When Jared joined the Owen Boys & Girls Club, he was missing 49 assignments at school. His older brother Leland was missing 53 assignments. The COVID-19 pandemic had forced most of their first semester online, but because of technical difficulties, they were falling through the cracks.

Jared and Leland’s father attempted to help them, but he couldn’t provide the support they needed and work at the same time. In addition, language barriers made it difficult to troubleshoot the issues and ask their schools for help. Their father reached out to the Boys & Girls Club, knowing it was a fixture of trust in Denver’s Westwood community.

Justine Baca, the Teen Specialist at the Owen Boys & Girls Club, explained that schools and educators across the nation are working nonstop to reach students during this pandemic, but not all communities and families have access to the resources they need.

“Some families don’t have internet access in their homes. Parents and guardians may not be familiar with the technology. There are conflicts in work schedules and language barriers,” she said.

As many schools across the Denver metro area have moved online, Boys & Girls Clubs have transformed our services to complement those offerings and support students as best as possible. The Owen Boys & Girls Club was one of many Clubs to help families by providing remote learning services during the school day. Instead of attending online classes at home, students came to the Club to learn, surrounded by encouragement and professional supports.

“Children all learn differently, so remote learning may be harder for some,” Baca said. “Some students may not have as much support to keep them on track and motivated to learn.”

To get Jared and Leland back on track, Baca created a focused plan for each brother, which included one-on-one help while they were at the Club and catch-up homework assignments each weekend. She created a “Missing Assignments” board and provided incentives to reward students as they caught up with their school work. It was just was the brothers needed.

After three weeks of hard work and homework help at the Club, Jared and Leland had completed every one of their missing assignments.

“We are so proud of them!” Baca said. “I knew they could it, but more importantly they knew they could do it.”

While Jared and Leland’s schools were in the process of returning to in-person learning, it’s currently unknown how classes will progress for the rest of the semester. One thing is for certain, Boys & Girls Clubs will keep adapting and doing whatever it takes to help our Club members succeed throughout these challenging times.

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