5 Reasons to Start a Home-Grown Tutoring Program

5 Reasons to Start a Home-Grown Tutoring Program

A Home-Grown Tutoring Partnership represents a collaborative effort, typically spearheaded by state DOEs, districts (LEAs), or non-profit organizations, to harness the power of local tutoring resources for the benefit of schools in their vicinity. The cornerstone of these initiatives is the emphasis on evidence-based practices, such as in-person high-impact tutoring, ensuring not only immediate academic support but also long-term sustainability of the programs.

This type of program has the potential to be a community treasure, transforming local experts like retired teachers, inspired professionals, and local college students into educational lifelines. These initiatives go beyond standard tutoring, offering customized, locally relevant learning while simultaneously boosting the community’s economy through internal investment.

Why Develop a Home-Grown Model

1. Strengthening Community Bonds

Home-grown tutoring programs bring education back to the local level, fostering a sense of community involvement and ownership that is irreplaceable. When local residents — be they in-house teachers and support staff, local university students, retired teachers, high-achieving high school students, or passionate volunteers — become tutors, it strengthens community bonds. This engagement isn’t just heartwarming; it’s also effective. Tutors with a profound understanding of local dynamics are uniquely positioned to connect with and inspire their students.

2. Economic Reinvestment in the Community

By employing residents as tutors, districts keep State funding within the community, contributing to local economic sustainability. Instead of allocating resources to entities outside the community, the money flows back into the local economy, enhancing the district’s financial health and fostering a sense of communal pride and investment in the success of its students.

3. Tailored Learning Experiences

The home-grown approach to tutoring takes personalized learning a step further, capitalizing on the intrinsic understanding local tutors have of the unique cultural, economic, and social dynamics that influence their students. This deep comprehension stems from shared experiences and histories, an asset that cannot be imported. Moreover, this approach fosters enhanced communication and stronger relationships between tutors and regular school teachers. 

Being part of the same community, they can collaborate more effectively (often in-person), aligning their strategies and goals. This synergy ensures a cohesive learning journey for students, where tutoring complements mainstream education. The tutors’ nuanced understanding of local dynamics, combined with consistent dialogue with school teachers, creates a more holistic, supportive, and effective educational ecosystem.

4. Empowered Professional Development

Home-grown tutoring initiatives create professional development opportunities within the community. Educators can collaborate with local tutors, sharing insights, strategies, and feedback that drive improvement. This continual learning environment not only enhances the quality of education but also increases job satisfaction and retention among teachers.

Home-grown tutoring partnerships are more than educational aids; they’re career springboards for tutors themselves. By fostering skills like leadership and communication, these local initiatives help tutors navigate diverse career or higher-ed paths. The hands-on experience enhances job applications and academic pursuits alike, making these programs a win-win: enriching student learning while advancing tutors’ professional journeys.

5. Enhanced School-Community Relationships

When schools initiate or expand home-grown tutoring programs, it signals to the community that the district values local talent and collaboration. This approach strengthens the relationship between schools and the communities they serve, establishing a foundation of mutual trust and respect that benefits all educational initiatives.


By focusing on local talent, tailored learning, economic reinvestment, and professional development, districts can cultivate a more engaged, effective, and sustainable educational environment. The challenges faced by rural areas have given rise to a model of education that’s not just a necessity for them but a beacon of inspiration for all. It’s time for educational districts everywhere to recognize the universal potential of this approach and embrace the home-grown advantage.

To Learn more about how Pearl supports Home-Grown Community Tutoring Programs – read the spotlight on Guilford Public Schools in North Carolina (and their amazing success).

How Guilford County, NC Succeeded in Home-Grown Tutoring

How Guilford County, NC Succeeded in Home-Grown Tutoring

In response to the pervasive learning gaps caused by the COVID pandemic, Guilford County Public Schools initiated a proactive strategy in September 2020, enlisting their inaugural group of tutors from neighboring colleges and universities to develop a home-grown tutoring program. By November, these tutors were actively bridging the educational divide. The recruitment strategy was precise, targeting both graduate and undergraduate students majoring in engineering, math, and education, with a significant emphasis on tapping into the rich resources of two strong local Universities, University of North Carolina Greensboro, and North Carolina A&T (an HBCU).

By the Numbers

The 2022-2023 academic year witnessed a revolutionary transformation within Guilford’s educational landscape, a metamorphosis driven by staggering numbers that underscored the success of its home-grown tutoring initiative.

Attendees were a wonderful blend of K-12 Education professionals ranging from classroom educators, researchers, policy experts, to EdTech innovators. As panel discussions unfolded and workshops began, everyone contributed their unique knowledge and valuable experiences, making this a truly inspirational event.

Fact and Figures
  • 305,000 high-impact tutoring sessions conducted, highlighting the strength of the program’s infrastructure in enhancing personalized academic support.
  • 500+ community tutors mobilized from within the community to boost K-12 education, increasing civic participation, and providing practical experience for university students.
  • 11,000+ students positively impacted through customized, individual, and small group tutoring sessions.
Correlated Conclusions
  • Improved academic performance, self-confidence, and educational equity among students.
  • Powerful synergy between educational advancement and community engagement, establishing a national model.
  • Sparked a surge in student confidence, reignited enthusiasm for learning, and notably decreased educational gaps across diverse student groups as the pandemic resurfaced.


Scaling Home-Grown Tutoring

When scaling a home-grown tutoring program, it’s important to select a technology partner that not only helps facilitate online and in-person tutoring but also prioritizes comprehensive data collection—including attendance, dosage, and SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) metrics. 

This focus on data integrity is crucial for Guilford County Public Schools, ensuring that every stakeholder can monitor and understand the program’s impact. Because Pearl has rostered every student in the district, data professionals at the district can merge tutor assessment data with tutor data for a full (and dynamic) picture of program health. The ability for the Pearl tutor management platform – and ultimately Guilford County – to track specific aspects of student engagement and progress allows for a nuanced view of the program’s effectiveness and areas for improvement.

Key Takeaways

  • Require detailed tracking of attendance, engagement, and SEL metrics through a tutor management platform provider, like Pearl.
  • Prioritize data integrity for transparent, stakeholder-friendly program assessments.
  • Integrate district-wide student data for a holistic view of program effectiveness.
  • Utilize specific engagement metrics for insights into successes and areas needing improvement.
  • Capitalize on large-scale programs to support extensive tutoring goals, like the Pearl partnerships with Stanford’s National Student Support Accelerator to underscore a commitment to top-tier data standards and security.


Now halfway through the first semester of the 2023-2024 school year, Guilford Public Schools’ tutoring program reflects more than an academic lifeline; it’s the heartbeat of a community united in its commitment to educational excellence. This unity is evident not only in the surging academic progress of students but also in the deepening roots of community involvement and support. With proven results and a forward-thinking approach in their home-grown tutoring program, the initiative continues to garner diverse financial backing, ranging from local coffers to significant grants and philanthropic gestures, each contributor drawn to the tangible successes and sustainable promise of the program.

Moreover, this initiative is a catalyst for cultivating the next wave of educators. By involving community members in hands-on tutoring roles, the district is not just filling positions but inspiring a passion for teaching among those who share a personal stake in their community’s future. This strategy has established a robust, self-sustaining educational ecosystem that’s as focused on tomorrow’s teachers as it is on today’s students.

Praise for Guilford Leadership

The ongoing journey of educational recovery and growth in Guilford County Public Schools is significantly marked by the visionary leadership of Dr. Faith Freeman, now Co-Director of the Institute for Partnerships in Education at UNCG, and Guilford’s Superintendent Dr. Whitney Oakley. Their leadership is not just about administrative prowess or educational oversight; it reflects a profound understanding that education extends beyond classroom walls.

The amazing tutoring department at Guilford (now run by Kara Hamliton) holds a shared belief that nurturing the next generation of thinkers, leaders, and innovators is a collective responsibility, one that they have embraced with profound dedication. As Guilford County Public Schools celebrates its milestones and carves out future goals, the community stands testament to the indelible impact of leaders who not only envision a brighter future but also work tirelessly to turn it into a reality.

Pro-Tips: Community-Based Tutoring

  • Embrace Community as Core Strength: Recognize your tutoring program not just as an academic support system, but as a vital community asset. The program’s success should reflect and amplify the community’s commitment to educational excellence.
  • Implement Rigorous Data Tracking: Establish a systematic approach to collecting critical tutor data — including metrics like attendance, dosage, SEL, and assessments. This robust data collection is essential for accurately measuring program success, providing transparent proof of effectiveness, and ensuring continued trust and investment from funders. By demonstrating positive outcomes through solid data, you reinforce the program’s credibility and secure ongoing support.
  • Measure Success Beyond Academics: Gauge the program’s impact not only through academic improvement but also via the depth of community engagement and support. Celebrate and leverage these aspects as integral components of the program’s success.
  • Diversify Funding Sources: Seek varied financial contributions, from local funds to substantial grants and donations. Showcase tangible successes and the program’s sustainable promise to attract and secure diverse backing.
  • Cultivate Future Educators: Use the program as a platform to inspire a new generation of educators. Engage community members as tutors to ignite a passion for teaching and a personal investment in the community’s educational future.
  • Build a Self-Sustaining Educational Ecosystem: Aim to create an educational environment that nurtures both current students and future educators, ensuring the program’s longevity and community relevance.
  • Lead with Vision and Understanding: Encourage leadership that understands education as a holistic experience extending beyond academics. Leaders should embody and act upon the belief that shaping future thinkers, leaders, and innovators is a communal duty.
  • Champion Collective Responsibility: Promote a shared belief across all stakeholders, including the tutoring department, that educating the next generation is a joint responsibility requiring dedicated commitment.
  • Celebrate and Strategize: Take time to acknowledge milestones while also diligently planning for the future. Recognize the enduring impact of visionary leaders and a community united in turning educational aspirations into tangible realities.

Guilford County Public Schools high-impact tutoring program, enhanced through collaborations with local institutions like NCAT and UNCG, extends robust tutoring resources to students. Emphasis on systematic training and superior instructional materials ensures the tutoring surpasses the effectiveness of many other academic interventions.

The strategy focuses on frequent, high-dosage tutoring, allocating 2-6 hours per week, which is pivotal for improving student outcomes. This approach not only bolsters academic performance but also strengthens social and emotional foundations through valuable mentorships, helping students realign with their educational pathways.

Elevating Student Learning with Tiered Intervention and High-Impact Tutoring

Elevating Student Learning with Tiered Intervention and High-Impact Tutoring

Education systems continuously evolve, seeking to optimize student learning and ensure that every child reaches their fullest potential. Among these evolving strategies, the integration of tiered intervention via Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) with high-impact tutoring is a clear path towards a more equitable future for K-12. In September of 2023 the National Student Support Accelerator (NSSA) released an in-depth brief on the benefits, challenges, and most effective action steps related to properly integrating High-Impact-Tutoring with MTSS. The following is a primer on the brief.

What is High-Impact Tutoring

The NSSA defines high-impact tutoring as tutoring that enhances student learning without replacing classroom instruction. Its key features include:

  • Regular tutoring sessions, ideally more than 30 minutes per week.
  • Strong, ongoing relationships between tutors and students.
  • Continuous assessment of student progress and tailored instruction.
  • Consistency with what students learn in school.
  • Regular training and support for tutors to ensure quality.

In short: High-impact tutoring is intensive, tailored, and aligned with classroom teachings.

The efficacy of this tutoring isn’t universal; it hinges on the right implementation. Research reveals that the tutoring’s impact is maximized when specific features and methodologies are applied with utmost fidelity. More on HIT here.

What is MTSS and Tiered Intervention?

MTSS or Multi-Tiered Systems of Support is a holistic framework adopted by districts to provide tailored support to students based on their individual needs. The essence of tiered intervention lies in its ability to cater to students at various tiers of academic competence, ensuring no student is left behind.

By relying on data, MTSS identifies and tracks struggling students, offering insights into effective interventions. Furthermore, its collaborative essence fosters unity among teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders, ensuring optimal student support. The rising adoption of MTSS in some districts may also be driven by state or federal mandates, a push to elevate specific academic outcomes, or a focus on addressing social-emotional student needs.

Why Marry MTSS with High-Impact Tutoring

When high-impact tutoring is infused into MTSS, districts witness:

  • Enhanced student outcomes: The combined effect of structured support from MTSS and the tailored, evidence-based methods of high-impact tutoring leads to significant learning gains.
  • Implementation ease: Challenges inherent to introducing new systems are minimized, thanks to the cohesiveness of this integrated approach.
  • Streamlined operations: The dual systems, when working in tandem, eliminate redundancies and pave the way for smoother school operations.
  • Instructional coherence: Aligning the objectives of both systems ensures that students receive a consistent and unified learning experience.

Steps to Successful Integration

Successful integration demands coordinated efforts at multiple levels:

  • State level: Review and, if necessary, amend conflicting guidelines in existing state policies to make room for this integrated approach
  • District level: Clearly define the scope of integration and set expectations for its seamless implementation
  • School level: Ensure that the practices are implemented with unwavering fidelity

The Clock is Ticking

Although states now have a path to file an extension on ESSER funding, the time is ripe for educational agencies to bolster their support systems. Embedding high-impact tutoring within tiered intervention is more than just an effective strategy—it’s an opportunity to bridge learning gaps, foster equity, and elevate educational outcomes.  Yet, success doesn’t come on a silver platter. It demands meticulous planning, strategic resource allocation, and continuous monitoring.

Dive Deeper

If you would like to explore more about the power of combining MTSS and high-impact tutoring? Discover benefits, delve into action steps, and glean insights from successful implementations at studentsupportaccelerator.org.

Steps to Successful Integration

Successful integration demands coordinated efforts at multiple levels:

  • State level: Review and, if necessary, amend conflicting guidelines in existing state policies to make room for this integrated approach
  • District level: Clearly define the scope of integration and set expectations for its seamless implementation
  • School level: Ensure that the practices are implemented with unwavering fidelity

The Clock is Ticking

Although states now have a path to file an extension on ESSER funding, the time is ripe for educational agencies to bolster their support systems. Embedding high-impact tutoring within tiered intervention is more than just an effective strategy—it’s an opportunity to bridge learning gaps, foster equity, and elevate educational outcomes.  Yet, success doesn’t come on a silver platter. It demands meticulous planning, strategic resource allocation, and continuous monitoring.

Dive Deeper

If you would like to explore more about the power of combining MTSS and high-impact tutoring? Discover benefits, delve into action steps, and glean insights from successful implementations at studentsupportaccelerator.org.

Towards the Cliff We Go!

Towards the Cliff We Go!

What Happens When ESSER Funding Ends?

One Year Ago

In May of 2022, Pearl leadership attended the NSSA Conference at Brown with a sense of opportunity, excitement, and responsibility. 150 amazing people from every aspect of tutoring gathered to discuss the opportunities ahead.  

Tutoring has become increasingly popular over the last three years as a policy that has forged new paths. A growing body of empirical evidence by the Annenberg Institute has demonstrated that positive outcomes can be achieved if key tenets of high-impact tutoring are followed carefully. The evidence regarding what works is increasingly accompanied by evidence about what does not work (including on-demand homework help).


The clarity of opportunities from the conference in 2022 remains unchanged today. 

It is an imperative to declare K12 tutoring as a fundamental human right and adopt the best method to mitigate the COVID slide as well as generations of inequities in education. 

This approach can transform our national educational system to equip our students with the essential skills to succeed in school and in life.

As Spring is upon us and the end of the school year approaches, the workload on our shoulders is beginning to soften. With this sense of relief comes trepidation as educators look forward to next year. What will remain the same and what might change? One thing is certain, as the cliff approaches, so too will policy makers start putting the spotlight on programs, looking for results and demanding accountability. The funding must be contracted by Sept 2024 and spent by June of 2025. 

Recently, the Council of Chief State School Officers released a report on ESSER spending across the country. CCSSO reports that states have allocated a significant portion of relief funds to various initiatives. A majority of the fund, $4.2 billion, will go towards tutoring and accelerated learning. A total of $2.9 billion has been allocated for programs outside of school hours. In addition, around $2.4 billion will help fund higher quality curriculum/instruction and enhance digital equity.

LEAs (districts) and state DOEs continue to find themselves torn between the ease of RFPing for turnkey solutions which on the surface may seem more readily available to students or spending money on clear, proven evidence-based solutions that will benefit students that need support the most. Additionally, many LEAs struggling with sharp declines in teacher resources cannot begin to imagine adding the complexity of self-managed tutoring to their current scheduling paradigm.

With state and district programs trying to better navigate spending, RFPs will increasingly become Requests For Information (RFIs). The RFI trend will provide the opportunity to suggest alternative approaches, and perhaps even a different (evidence-based design) approach than that originally contemplated in the request. There is no doubt that ineffective spending on tutoring will not result in the sustainability of those programs. The effectiveness of both design and positive outcomes must be proven if stakeholders want tutoring money to stay in their respective tutoring programs. 

The Path Forward

Returning to what remains of ESSER (per the CCSSO), it is imperative to sustainability that forward thinking programs plan to leverage their portion of the remaining ~$4.2 billion to form tutoring community partnerships while leveraging third party evaluation to prove efficacy.  

As a core component of almost any community tutoring partnership design is the participation of higher education. Annenberg outlines three evidence-based program designs for community tutoring partnerships in their newly released HIT Higher Education Institution Playbook as Recruitment Model, Educator Pipeline Model and Community Engagement Model.  

Over the next year and a half a great deal will need to happen so that promising tutoring programs can be made sustainable. There are a number of ways that sustainability might be made possible, including: federal aid extensions,  philanthropic matching or braided funding, state DOE budget reappropriation, federal grant programs, corporate giving, and new policies focused on building better infrastructure for future teachers. Our friends at Deans For Impact (DFI) outline the final “higher-education” opportunities in their work to mobilize Aspiring Teachers as Tutors Network. As a quick resource, see DFI’s policy suggestions referenced below. 

As we look towards the final ESSER cliff, let us respond to the challenge and do what is right to make tutoring the future of education.  

We must:

  • Come together to implement High Impact Tutoring in an evidence based way for the students that need it the most 
  • Leverage evidence based approaches to data collection and proving program efficacy 
  • Build sustainable resources through partnerships in higher-education and broader communities
  • Innovate ways to scale tutoring capacity to deliver quality instruction
  • Develop better support for rural districts and schools 
  • Pay our educators what they deserve 


Pass S.3964 (The CORPS Act) and prioritize the eligibility of future teachers as awardees. 

Fund an optional 1% set-aside to expand access to tutoring by funding innovative partnerships between teacher-preparation programs, community-based organizations, and/or other non-governmental organizations.

Identify these ideas as an allowable use of funds in the next stimulus package for innovative partnerships that seek to increase the capacity to reopen schools and support students. 

Increase funding for Title II of the Higher Education Act in the FY2021 Labor-HHS-Education bill by $500 million to directly support states to develop plans that leverage future teachers. 

Allow tutoring – as described above – in high-need or low-income schools to satisfy TEACH Grant service requirements for the duration of the pandemic.  

-Attribution – Deans For Impact – Resources for Education and Policy Leaders*

Unsure of how to tackle the challenges of your large online tutoring program? Schedule time to speak to a Pearl expert and learn best practices for evidence-based tutoring with Pearl.