Our newest series, A United Thread, highlights the importance of pulling together to collectively serve our community through an unprecedented time. In each segment, we feature an organization awarded COVID-19 grant money through United Way of Central Carolinas.


As a result of the coronavirus crisis, our community’s most critical nonprofits are feeling the strain as they experience an increased demand for services while simultaneously navigating decreased financial resources. Within multiple counties across the Charlotte region, United Way of Central Carolinas established COVID-19 response funds in partnership with Foundation For The Carolinas, and with the support of corporations, local government and others to assist local nonprofits serving on the front lines.


In this segment, we connect with Kara King, executive director of Academic Learning Center, to learn how the organization is navigating the pandemic.



How has COVID-19 impacted Academic Learning Center?


King: Academic Learning Center works to promote learning and achievement while developing self-esteem and social skills among disadvantaged elementary children who struggle to learn. The students that participate in our program are performing below grade-level standards in school. Our free after-school tutoring program is designed to provide targeted academic assistance.


Due to COVID-19, our students have missed valuable classroom time and after-school tutoring. The research is already indicating that the longer students of all levels are learning remotely, the more likely they will perform below what they would have in the classroom. For students from disadvantaged backgrounds, that gap is much wider. We are anticipating that we will have a wider gap to close for our current students and there will be more students that will need our program.



How has the organization adapted the way it delivers on its mission during the pandemic?


King: During the school year, we serve around 500 students in Cabarrus County. In order to continue to serve our students and to help prevent our students from falling further behind their peers, we are providing instructional resources to our students and families.



How is Academic Learning Center using the grant money it received through the COVID-19 Response Fund?


King: The students will have quality reading books and interactive math books to mitigate the loss of teacher instruction and in-school experiences missed during school closures. Our students will be thrilled to receive their own personal reading materials and math challenges. We’ve also included pencils, colored pencils, glue, pencil sharpeners and notebooks in our summer instructional packets.



Outside of COVID-19, what is something people should know about Academic Learning Center’s partnership with United Way?


King: United Way allows Academic Learning Center to reach over 500 Cabarrus County students each year. Together, we are making a difference in the future of our Cabarrus County youth. The children that participate in our program improve their conduct in school, academic performance, strive for higher attendance and develop more confidence in their ability to learn. We know that if children feel confident about school in the elementary years, they are more likely to graduate high school.


In addition to monetary support, United Way provides resources and training for our agency. United Way also fosters relationships between agencies, allowing us to work together to serve our community—we are stronger together.


Learn more about United Way’s COVID-19 response efforts here.