ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On average, students are 2.5 months behind in English and 2.6 months behind in mathematics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, says a 2021 study by the Policy Analysis for California Education research center.
But that significant learning lag hasn’t been felt equally. Low-income students and English language learners have been some of the most impacted, with their learning lag ranging from 2.8 to 3.8 months, according to the study.
That’s where Ann Arbor’s Family Learning Institute (FLI) comes in. Since 1999, volunteers from the nonprofit have worked to improve literacy and math skills in Washtenaw County students in grades 2-5 through free, weekly tutoring sessions.
On Saturday, April 23, FLI hopes to raise awareness and money for its after-school programs with a night of virtual trivia.
Starting at 5:30 p.m, trivia teams from anywhere can test their wits and battle it out for prizes from local businesses.
FLI board member Jenn Cornell Queen said that the event is a good way for people with friends and family around the country to get together and connect.
Funds generated by the trivia night will go towards helping support FLI’s free tutors who meet with students and families.
“From our perspective, the need [for tutors] is there. The need is greater than it’s every been,” Cornell Queen said.
“Every family, I think right now, can really relate to the challenges that the pandemic brought to kids. And we know that those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged were harder hit. That’s just a national fact. That’s not unique to this community.”
Volunteers spend one hour every week working one-on-one with students in schools, online or at FLI’s South Industrial Highway center.
“It [the pandemic] hasn’t changed our delivery or mission but the demand has grown significantly,” Cornell Queen said.
Teams at the Saturday event can have up to six participants. Anyone without a team will be added to a group in need of another mind.
The top three teams will receive gift cards and other items from Ann Arbor businesses as well as trophies made by a local artist.
Trivia topics will include various genres and themes. Tickets cost $50 per person or $300 for a group of six. Get tickets here.
In addition to trivia, FLI is running a silent online auction where participants can bid on items donated to the Ann Arbor organization.
Items range from gift certificates and cocktail classes to golf outings and a private four-course dinner created by Grange Kitchen and Bar chef Brandon Johns. Community members can even bid on a 3-night stay in Petoskey, Michigan.
The silent auction runs until April 23. Check it out here.
Those unable to participate but who still want to support the organization’s mission can donate online.
Volunteering to tutor is another way to help. While it may seem intimidating, Cornell Queen said that no special skills are needed and that FLI is in critical need of volunteers.
“Don’t feel as if you don’t have the skills to do it,” she said. “If you can read, you have the skills to do it and to help.”
Interested? Apply online through FLI’s website.