Creating Connections through Peer Tutoring: Shree’s Changemaker Story
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Santiago High School abruptly transitioned to online learning. In the subsequent days, schools throughout the country and world followed suit. As she began online classes, junior Shree Reddy recognized a problem – and an opportunity. After talking to her friends, meeting parents who were struggling to teach their kids, and experiencing the challenges of online learning first-hand, Shree realized that there was a widespread need for personalized academic support.
Seizing the opportunity to create positive change, Shree teamed up with two friends, Kaitlyn Park and Sanya Dhama, to create GoToTutors, a free one-on-one online peer tutoring service. Through their website, GoToTutors connects volunteer high school and college-aged tutors with students who need support.
When the idea for GoToTutors was born, Shree reached out to classmates and friends to recruit tutors and participants in her school district. Community outreach was a struggle in the initial weeks, but with a social media campaign, peer references, and word-of-mouth advertising, they slowly began to build community trust.
Eventually, NBC agreed to feature GoToTutors on the morning news. The publicity gained from the news story bolstered GoToTutors’ legitimacy and catalyzed its spread. Undeterred by her relative lack of experience, Shree has continued to expand GoToTutors, stepping outside of her comfort zone and finding creative ways to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Since its founding, GoToTutors has expanded from its roots in southern California to several states and countries. Although providing academic support is its primary goal, Shree and her team also aim to promote cultural exchange and foster meaningful relationships. In a time when isolation and social distancing are the norm, creating these cross-cultural connections is more important than ever.
Shree credits her parents for imbuing her with this global perspective. The daughter of immigrants, Shree and her family often take trips to the rural Indian village where her mom grew up. Each year, she and her parents donate supplies to local school children and families. This empathetic mindset, along with encouragement from her parents, empowered her to respond to the problem she encountered by creating a solution.
Since the summer began, Shree and her team have started an English-as-a-second-language (ESL) program to support students learning English. In the months ahead, they hope to expand the program to Mexico and South America. As online learning continues in the fall, Shree and her team are excited to continue to support students, relieve stressed-out parents, and make the world a little more connected.
When asked what advice she would provide to other young changemakers, Shree responds, “the key to creating change is addressing needs within your own community. No matter how "small" the issue may seem, as long as it impacts the life of one, it is worth it. With GoToTutors, we realize that we impact more than the student themselves, but their families, and the community as a whole. This is our motivation to expand, and we hope to inspire others to support their communities in unique ways as well."