Bay Area nonprofit aids quarantined students worldwide

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Quarantutors is a non-profit organization founded by four Bay Area high school students in mid-March, just days after California went into lockdown, to help students and families affected by COVID-19 quarantine regulations. The organization offers free, online tutoring for K-12 students worldwide in subjects ranging from elementary sciences to Advanced Placement (AP) Literature and Composition, and electives such as coding and dance.

“I was feeling personally convicted, like wanting to help out in some way but not knowing how, and I shared these feelings with a mutual acquaintance — between myself and the other three founders who were also feeling a similar kind of urge to help out,” said Esther Sun, executive director and co-founder of Quarantutors. “We thought maybe we could use our skills and position as students to help, and so tutoring became our biggest idea that we thought might be plausible, and we just went with it.”

One of the founding members, Carol Li, is a senior at Stanford Online High School and Los Gatos High School. She serves as the Technical Director of Quarantutors.

Since its founding, Quarantutors has recruited between 600 to 700 tutors from 33 U.S. states and 12 countries, including Italy and South Korea. Tutors consist of high schoolers as well as college students from institutions such as John Hopkins, Tufts, Northwestern and Barnard.

Leila DeSchepper, a rising frosh at Stanford, is a tutor with Quarantutors, tutoring in English, math and Spanish. 

“I appreciate how organized Quarantutors is — and that they make it very easy to become a tutor, but also to receive tutoring,” said DeSchepper. “There is a huge need for free and/or low-cost tutoring, especially during COVID-19, so Quarantutors is super important to help fill that gap! It’s a really easy process, and they’ll help you with what you need to be prepared.”

Besides its American base, the organization has also established in Greece and the United Arab Emirates, and recently launched a branch in Taiwan. The first branch, Quarantutors Greece, was founded by Lietta Ioannou, a rising high school senior from Athens, Greece. 

“I first came in contact with Quarantutors in April when I came across their website, and thought it would be a great idea to cooperate with them to create a Greek branch,” said Ioannou. “It has been a great experience so far, and I’m very excited to continue our project over the summer!” 

Quarantutors offered summer classes with planned curriculums. These group lessons received around 400 registrations, while individual sessions attracted over 600 K-12 students. As of August, Quarantutors has completed over 2,000 tutoring sessions and received appreciation from both students and parents for its work. 

“[Quarantutors] had all the elements that I like: the teacher let us write on our own, covered the topics that I was struggling with, and most importantly created a very engaging class,” said Kanushi, a middle school student who took a creative writing summer class, in the comments section of Quarantutors’s website.

“Quarantutors was the difference between struggling with online schooling and excelling at it,” said Melissa, a parent from Bloomfield, MI, in the same comment section. “This service is truly a godsend!”

“We are so grateful to the Quarantutors team for this innovative idea of connecting children during quarantine,” said Keren Moses, a parent from India. “I hope this program can continue even after quarantine ends!”

Quarantutors plans to continue for as long as quarantine lasts, and even after life returns to normal. The team is currently working to extend its resources to employees of high-tech companies through the Silicon Valley Employers Forum in exchange for potential financial donations. They have also reached out to the History Club of Los Gatos, a women’s nonprofit philanthropic organization that supports women and children with an emphasis on education and health. Quarantutors hopes to welcome members of the Club, many with educational backgrounds, as tutors. 

In addition to providing help for students in need, Quarantutors received assistance from Francesca de la Torre, a high school teacher from Pennsylvania, in providing Zoom seminars for tutors about tutoring strategies. Topics include reinforcement and engagement, as well as managing disruptive behaviors. 

“One of our goals moving forward is to expand our support and training for tutors coming in,” Sun said. “We’re thinking also of potentially inviting guest speakers for future seminars” in the fall to better prepare tutors.

Though Quarantutors is completely free, they accept “optional financial donations from parents as a token of appreciation for our tutors’ time,” with 100% of proceeds donated to No Kid Hungry, an organization working to end child hunger in America. During quarantine, they have been providing meals to “youth dependent on school lunches and who are therefore negatively impacted by school closures” related to COVID-19.

Contact Vivian Chang at vivianchang2003 ‘at’ gmail.com. 

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Vivian Chang is a high school student writing as part of The Daily’s Summer Journalism Workshop.