Closing the COVID-19 Learning Gap Facing School-Aged Kids

By Amy Taylor

Kids being tutored

EDITOR’S NOTE: Summer learning loss happens when children in grades 3 through 8 experience academic declines over summer—anywhere from 20 to 50 percent—particularly in math and reading. With COVID-19, there is greater concern that disadvantaged children are not only already behind but could remain behind with schools in limbo. For many kids, tutoring may be the answer.

Back to school preparation looks a lot different in 2020 than it has in previous years. When we’d be visiting new teachers, picking out backpacks and snapping cute first-day photos, many parents are struggling with heavy decisions about their children’s education. We’re navigating a world where homeschool, virtual learning or hybrid learning are the only safe and available options. If you’re concerned that your child may have fallen behind in the past few months, there’s a nonprofit organization here to help close the COVID-19 learning gap.

Virtual Tutoring for In-Need Families

Angie Penn, CEO of The Knowledge Exchange

Angie Penn, CEO of The Knowledge Exchange

The Knowledge Exchange, Inc. is a Fredericksburg-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides education services to kids locally and across the country. They’ve been helping students since January 2020.

“Everybody should be able to have access to quality education, people shouldn’t be limited in their education because of lack of funds. We empower our community by giving information about finances, fitness, education. We build communities as well as provide knowledge,” says Angie Penn, CMO of The Knowledge Exchange, Inc.

Penn and founder Jimmy Shing, both Fredericksburg locals, want to build up the Fredericksburg area. While they’re based in Fredericksburg, they provide virtual tutoring nationwide.

“We want to be able to provide what we weren’t able to have access to and give a better experience, not just to kids, but to the whole family,” she adds.

In-Person Tutoring is Available with Precautions for COVID-19

Students in Fredericksburg city, and Stafford and Spotsylvania counties, can receive limited in-person tutoring sessions. These sessions are scheduled on a case-by-case basis. If the parents and tutors are comfortable having in-person sessions, they meet in open-air public spaces where they can socially distance and are wear masks. They are recommending virtual sessions but understand that some students need face-to-face instruction.

Closing the Learning Gap

To help students benefit most from their tutoring services, they approach each student’s needs individually.

“We talk to the parents and ask, ‘What area are your kids struggling in?’ and tailor instruction plans to the kids’ needs and interests,” says Penn.

Penn recounts, for example, one student loved anime, so they incorporated anime into her tutoring lessons to get her interested in what she was learning and to help her retain information.

More than Tutoring

The Knowledge Exchange, Inc. offers more than standard tutoring services. They also hold workshops and seminars and tutoring in life skills outside of the usual curriculum.

“We provide tutoring and education services for K-12, financial literacy, health and wellness, nutrition, whatever their educational goals are, we will fill that gap with one of our tutors,” says Penn.


The Knowledge Exchange is planning a Black Girls Code Conference, which will be an introductory coding class for young women. While this event is still in the works, but updates will be available on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube