CBA Record July-August 2021
The ShowWent On! Lawyers Lend-A-Hand Tutoring Program By Daniel A. Cotter, CBA Record Editorial Board
T he Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth Program became a direct service organization in 2016 with the launch of Lend-A-Hand Tutoring at the CBA. The program provides free one-to- one tutoring at the CBA to students from the Englewood community who attend Providence Englewood Charter School (PECS). The Beginnings The Chicago Bar Foundation, along with the leadership of the CBA, initiated the Lend-A-Hand Program in 1995, and it has continued to evolve. Since its inception, the Lend-A-Hand program has encour- aged the legal community’s support and furtherance of exceptional mentoring programs for disadvantaged youth in the Chicago area. Kathryn McCabe (“Ms. Kathy” to the students) joined LLAH as executive direc- tor in 2015. At that time, LLAH focused on supporting and issuing grants to various tutor/mentor programs in Chicago com- munities, including a special grant created in 1994 by Chicago attorney and Past CBA President Thomas A. Demetrio, the Lend-A-Hand Award of Excellence, with a desire to impact the lives of Chicago’s underprivileged children by recognizing the efforts of exceptional tutor/mentor programs in Chicago communities. This award was the start of LLAH, and it con- tinues today as the Thomas A. Demetrio Award of Excellence. WhenMcCabe was interviewing for the position, she suggested providing a direct services model. This was an audacious goal, but McCabe turned that vision into a real- ity less than a year later. The partnership has been productive and strong ever since.
Dan Cotter with his mentee, Xazavia P.
The Tutoring Program Lend-A-Hand Tutoring at the CBA provides free one-to-one tutoring to 50 students from the Englewood community on the south side of Chicago. The tutoring program focuses on literacy. Each student- tutor pair receive an individualized reading plan to work on each week. Because many students have learning challenges, LLAH strives to use instructional methods and materials that are appropriate for each student’s learning needs. The Pandemic Tutoring is on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. during the school year with the school providing transportation. Due to the pandemic, in-person meetings during the 2019-2020 school year ended in early March 2020. Tutoring for the 2020-2021 school year was done virtually, and ended inMay, with a handful of younger students opting to extend through mid-June. The importance of the individual pairs meeting on a weekly basis is crucial to the program’s success (as it is with any tutoring program). So McCabe invited several pairs to experiment with online tools over the summer of 2020. For example, with my student, we worked through various kinks in the system and each week experimented with the possible solutions with McCabe.
In September 2020, the full program was back up and running. About 50 tutor- student pairs were arranged, many of the pairs continuing from prior years. Using Google Meets and the reading material program Readworks, the pairs logged on each week. Given the volume of technol- ogy needs, as well as the need for McCabe and her team to be able to monitor the programs and ensure things were working, the pairs were split between Monday and Tuesday evenings, and the sessions were shortened from one and a half hours to about one hour. When the pairs logged onto their sepa- rate pairings, they “virtually” visited each other in their homes, and continued to create strong bonds and mutually reward- ing connections. The LLAH program had a great school year, especially considering the technologi- cal challenges that the program faced. But like the post office, neither rain nor snow nor the coronavirus pandemic could stop the creativity and loyalty the participants bring to the program. The program con- tinued despite the hurdles. Kudos to the volunteers, to the students, and especially to “Ms. Kathy” for making the LLAH tutoring program fun and enriching during the pandemic. Here is to re-uniting and seeing the students in-person soon.
Discover how you can get involved with Lawyers Lend-a-Hand to Youth at www.lawyerslendahand.org.
14 July/August 2021
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