United Way of South Hampton Roads Partners to Help Students Overcome the Impacts of COVID-19

by CoVaBizMag

From a press release issued by United Way of South Hampton Roads

Bank of America and United Way of South Hampton Roads recently joined forces to gift over 100,000 masks to students at Norfolk Public Schools. The donation represents just one example of how these multi-sector partners are working together to help students overcome the impacts of COVID-19.

The impacts of the pandemic on children have been significant. While schools have reopened and life is beginning to return to normal, students will be fighting COVID learning loss and the effects of social isolation for the foreseeable future, particularly among students who already face opportunity gaps. To help students overcome challenges, United Way has taken a three-pronged approach focusing on emergency response, short-term solutions and long-term recovery.

Getting students, faculty and staff the necessary equipment to safely return to the classroom was part of the emergency response. In addition to the masks donated by Bank of America, United Way also helped coordinate a donation of 110,000 masks from Hanes Brands as part of America’s Mask Challenge. The masks were distributed to multiple schools across Norfolk.

Recognizing the impossible choices families were facing to balance work, childcare and supervision, United Way also supported short-term solutions by funding safe remote learning sites staffed with trained adults. There, students were able to receive in-person learning support throughout the day to help them connect and focus and participate in new learning activities after school to help them catch up.

"At Bank of America, we have a special passion for children, particularly in underserved communities, as seen through our work with United Way," said Charlie Henderson, president of Hampton Roads at Bank of America. "But there is still more to do if we want to minimize the long-term effects of this pandemic on our students. Our hope is that other corporate leaders will join our commitment to surround our children with the supports they need to thrive."

Now, United Way is turning its long-term focus to providing extra learning supports like tutoring, mentoring and other out-of-school programs to help our kids recover learning loss and build upon every opportunity to excel. United Way will once again work with Norfolk Public Schools to host Summer LEAP, a program targeting more than 1,000 children in the St. Paul’s Area, specifically designed to help students overcome summer slide through innovative projects, hands-on learning and enrichment activities. And plans are in the works for a one-on-one mentoring program focused on reading skills and social and emotional learning.

"We are so thankful for generous supporters like Bank of America and passionate partners like Norfolk Public Schools," said Michele Anderson, president and CEO of United Way of South Hampton Roads. "You truly cannot do this work alone. It takes the entire community working together to make an impact, and it’s time for us to double down for our kids."

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