LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Since spring, many students and teachers have resorted to using webcams and completing lessons from behind a keyboard. There can be a real learning loss from the lack of in-person help, according to community leaders working to open new learning hubs throughout Louisville. Evolve502 is coordinating with these facilities, staffing some of them with Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) substitutes, for in-person tutoring and academic help.

Neighborhood House in the Portland neighborhood is one community center already functioning as a site for students to go in-person to complete Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) work. Evolve502 says there are about 50 providers currently and about 26 substitute teachers committed to staffing facilities. 

"Schoolwork is just hard under these conditions, but we're hoping we can provide a little extra support that makes it a little easier," Neighborhood House Executive Director Jennie Jean Davidson said. 

The center is open to elementary, middle, and high schoolers, but to a limited number of students. That's to allow enough space for social distancing.

Evolve502's Executive Director Marland Cole says her organization was inspired to facilitate learning, thinking, "How can we help shore up that learning loss that's happened? Having a place to go where [students] have some support with their NTI is critically important, and just again that socialization, having the opportunity to feel like a kid again.

"Our young people are challenged by many things that have nothing to do with their ability to learn, but issues and their lifestyle circumstances. So we have kids living in poverty. We have kids that are exposed to trauma. And they're coming to JCPS schools bringing those barriers with them that keep them from being successful," Cole added.

Davidson's Neighborhood House has long been a community staple. She says there's been success with this new type of NTI help they're hosting, although there have been some challenges. There's a capacity limit, so there's a growing waiting list.

"That's a tough one," she admitted. "We have kids that are on our waiting list, and it's been really hard to say no to those families."

Evolve 502 also opened a scholarship opportunity for students. JCPS seniors graduating this May can apply. Students who qualify can go tuition-free to a Kentucky Community and Technical College or Simmons College, pursuing an associate degree or career credential.