Felicia was stuck at home during COVID-19, watching helplessly while the communities around her suffered. She looked for any opportunity she could to help people: she sewed masks and delivered them to hospitals, she baked cookies and distributed them in her neighborhood to spread joy. During this time, her high school had switched to Google Hangouts for their classes. Even though her school is well-resourced, she felt the transition to online learning was substantially difficult. As she talked to other students and read news articles, she learned that for many schools, the shift was even harder. Students felt like they weren’t getting enough 1:1 attention from teachers. Many parents in particular didn’t have the bandwidth to help their kids with coursework and were worried about them falling behind.
Students weren’t getting enough academic attention, and Felicia sensed an opportunity to step in and support them. She spoke with directors of community-based organizations (CBO) and found that there was a pressing need for educational support among many families these CBOs worked with. Meanwhile, most of her friends weren’t able to attend their extracurricular activities anymore because of COVID-19 and were, like Felicia, looking for opportunities to help. With that, Buddy Tutoring was born. The idea? To create a free online tutoring program that would match kids who needed extra help with older kids who were looking for ways to volunteer. Each student’s experience would be completely customized to fit their needs, whether they needed help learning specific subjects, developing their reading abilities, or learning general study skills. As opposed to commercial tutoring programs, where each tutor has tens of students, Buddy Tutoring keeps the ratio low, assigning each tutor only three students at most. This allows every tutor to give each kid the attention they need.
Felicia herself started tutoring a few students in order to test the concept and gain feedback from parents and students alike. Pleased with the program, the parents helped spread the word and soon Felicia had more and more students coming in. She began recruiting tutors, at first in her community and then across the country. As of writing this article, Felicia has more than 30 students,20 tutors, and over 150 hours served. Her hope is to grow Buddy Tutoring to reach any student who needs extra academic support. If you’re reading this and could potentially benefit from free tutoring, or if you’re interested in being a tutor, reach out to Felicia here.