High school and college students across the country are creating tools to help narrow the educational gap between students who can afford to hire private tutors and those who can't and are quickly falling behind.
(TNS) — Alex Yan and Arvin Ding, seniors at Irvine's Portola High School in California, have held free weekly in-person tutoring sessions for elementary and middle school students since they started their organization Math at the Library in 2017.
When COVID-19 hit, their team of high schoolers quickly transitioned to online tutoring and later banded together with two other student volunteer organizations — Girls Empowering Girls, founded by Annette Yuan, a junior at Irvine High School, which offers one-on-one English conversation practice with language learners, and Code Champion, a coding class Ding started with his sophomore sister Cindy Ding — to form the nonprofit StudySmart Youth Services.
While the teens previously served their local community, now they tutor students from Seattle to Toronto.
The Irvine youths are part of a growing number of advantaged high school and college students across the country who have stepped up during campus shutdowns and mandated distance learning, hoping to help narrow the educational gap between students who can afford to hire private tutors and those who can't and are quickly falling behind.
Emme Shaffer, a senior at the Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, and her team of high school students have tutored over 500 students since she started Tutor Together in the spring.
Recent high school graduate Dana Lin, from Pasadena, was a volunteer instructor teaching stem cell biology at the Wave Learning Festival, a student-run educational platform that was founded in May by undergraduates from universities like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.
Triplets Sonia, Esha and Nikhil Mathur, high school juniors in Tucson, started Peer 2 Peer Tutoring to help high school students who were missing school because of health reasons.
But since the pandemic, they've opened up their services to all students, and since May, P2P Tutoring has expanded from Arizona to five other states, including a branch in Granite Bay that serves all of California.
These teen volunteers hope to help fill an exponentially growing demand.
In August, the Los Angeles Unified School District partnered with the startup Step Up Tutoring to offer free one-on-one tutoring, though they currently only serve the communities of Huntington Park, Fremont and Taft. Even if the pilot is successful, Step Up co-founder Nati Rodriguez told the L.A. Times it'd likely take two years to make the services available for all students in the district.
Other organizations around Southern California and beyond are adapting their tutoring programs to distance learning.
Eddie D. Tafoya, the CEO and executive director of The Southeast Community Foundation, said the tutors at their Enrichment Tutoring Academy are hired credentialed teachers, supported by grants and donations.
The Enrichment Tutoring Academy has been serving the neighborhoods of Southeast Los Angeles, from Montebello to Compton and from Huntington Park to La Mirada since 2015.
He anticipates it'll be a challenge for them to meet the high demand this year.
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