KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and his wife Crissy are launching a new statewide program designed to help elementary school students who are at risk of falling behind in studies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Haslams announced Tuesday that they will partner with Boys & Girls Clubs and other youth-focused Tennessee organizations to create the program, known as the Tennessee Tutoring Corps.
The program will run from June to August, with the goal of recruiting at least 1,000 college students to serve as tutors for the grade school students.
"The 'summer slide' is a very real problem each year, and, with students being out of school for so long because of the coronavirus, this year could be more of a summer avalanche," the former Republican governor said in a statement. "We know that younger students and low-income students are especially vulnerable to summer learning loss, and we want to help address the problem."
The Haslams say recent research shows the coronavirus pandemic will "significantly worsen" learning loss over the summer nationwide, with some students potentially at risk being a full year behind because of the school closures.
Haslam served in the top elected position from 2011 to 2019. He mulled a run in 2020 to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, but ultimately decided not to seek the office.
During his time as governor, one of Haslam's signature initiatives was providing free state community college and technical school tuition for new high school graduates and adults without a college degree or certificate through programs nicknamed Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect.