“Once an ASK family, always an ASK family, “ says Denice Grawe, Program Manager for the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation. “Our commitment is to support the family, not just during treatment but throughout life.” Created in 1975 and headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation’s mission is to “make life better for children with cancer.” To accomplish this purpose, ASK provides community building activities, emotional support, and academic tutoring programs to kids with cancer and their siblings. With one or two children in Central Virginia diagnosed with cancer every week, the need never dissipates.
In 2017, Alma Morgan, ASK’s Educational Coordinator, decided to try online tutoring with Trilogy Mentors in order to provide remote learning to those children who could not attend in-person academic support sessions. ASK wanted to help more kids with more one-on-one tutoring regardless of where the child lived, so the Trilogy Mentors platform became an innovative way to serve more students. The first pilot program started with seven kids and has now blossomed into fifty students receiving tutoring in subjects from elementary school history to high school calculus. “I was so happy we already had this [online tutoring] in place,” says Denice when COVID-19 in the wake of school cancellations.
For a child who has endured cancer treatment, cognitive delays and problems in school are almost certain. Often, a child chooses not to identify as a “cancer survivor,” resulting in teachers mistaking problems caused by chemotherapy as learning deficiencies. Sometimes, these academic problems do not manifest themselves until later on in school. Furthermore, time away from class exacerbates an already stressful situation. Because ASK transitioned to online academic support programs, it assures ASK families that their children can continue school.
The Trilogy Mentors online tutoring platform “alleviates the pressure” in the household, says Denice. With parents working now from home, online tutoring provides tremendous relief because parents aren’t forced to serve as school teachers while trying to perform their own jobs. As she explains, “With parents working full time at home, they can do their work, or they can teach their kid, but they cannot do both.” And because the Trilogy Mentors platform supports and sustains the relationship between student and tutor, the child receives continuity, organized instruction, and holistic support. This consistency allows ASK programs to mitigate frustration and continue learning, sustaining the organization’s mission to support the entire family.
Had ASK not had the foresight to transition to online learning three years ago, their students would be at risk of falling even further behind should schools not open as usual in the fall. However today, ASK stands ready to buoy their spirits, celebrate their victories, alleviate their frustrations, and help them succeed. For fifty students and their parents, the Trilogy Mentors team has helped the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation remain their champion, not just now, but for the rest of their lives.