Tutor Teens: Boosting Grades & Building Relationships with Near-Peer Tutoring

Feb 29, 2024 | Spotlight, Tutoring Industry

Born in the whirlwind of the pandemic, Tutor Teens isn’t just another tutoring program. This unique tutoring initiative, brought to life in 2020 by then high school siblings Erin and Aidan Finn, represents a student-led crusade to transform learning through near-peer tutoring. Their impact? Tutor Teens has empowered over 360 students (K-12) across 100+ schools in the Greater Cincinnati Area to conquer subjects and cultivate a lifelong love of learning.

A Case for Near-Peer Tutoring

Over four years, Tutor Teens has built a network topping 290 high-performing high school tutors (grades 9-12), connecting them with younger learners. This near-peer tutoring approach, matching high-school academic tutors with younger students one-on-one, goes beyond boosting grades. This model builds confidence, fosters independent thinking, and forges lasting friendships that extend beyond a Zoom session.

Erin Finn, co-founder, adds, “We weren’t just another tutoring program. We wanted to create a community where students could connect with tutors who understood their challenges and could guide them in a relatable way.”

Whether it’s conquering math facts, mastering history, or demystifying science, Tutor Teens tailors sessions to individual needs and learning styles. With an average of 12 sessions per student in Fall 2023, they help to improve grades, but also develop a curiosity for learning, as evidenced by reduced learning anxieties reported by students. The benefits extend to tutors as well, anecdotally reporting improvements in mental health, nurturing leadership skills, and empathy.

Beyond Grades, Building Love of Learning

Whether it’s conquering math facts, mastering history, or demystifying science, Tutor Teens tailors sessions to individual needs and learning styles. With an average of 12 sessions per student in Fall 2023, they help to improve grades, but also develop a curiosity for learning, as evidenced by reduced learning anxieties reported by students. The benefits extend to tutors as well, anecdotally reporting improvements in mental health, nurturing leadership skills, and empathy.

A Community of Equity and Inclusion

  • 52% of Tutor Teens students qualify for free or reduced lunch, highlighting their commitment to bridging the opportunity gap and making quality education accessible to all.
  • 45% of their students identify as Black, reflecting their strong dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion in education.
  • The remaining student body represents a diverse range of ethnicities, creating a rich learning environment that celebrates different cultures and perspectives.

Serving Diverse Environments

  • 73% of their students attend public schools across various settings, including urban, suburban, and magnet schools, demonstrating Tutor Teens extensive reach into various communities.

Making Learning Accessible and Engaging

Tutor Teens understands the challenges of modern life. Their online tutoring platform, Pearl, offers flexible scheduling and a dynamic learning and mentoring environment. Interactive tools like whiteboards and document sharing keep students engaged and stimulated, making learning accessible and fun.

A Vision for the Future

Always striving for greater impact, Tutor Teens plans to refine its program using data from Pearl and expand its reach through partnerships with Cincinnati-based partnerships. This will not only provide a wider range of tutors, but also offer valuable experience and training to young minds. 

Erin Finn shares, “We started small, but with the belief that young people could make a difference. We applied for a 2022 Call to Effective Action grant, knowing it was a long shot. The Accelerate team believed in us and awarded us a matching grant, contingent on raising funds from our community. Thanks to the support of the Reds Community Fund, U.S. Presidential Scholars Foundation, and Main Street Ventures, we met that challenge and continue to grow.”

The success story of Tutor Teens and its collaboration with Pearl serves as a testament to the transformative power of communities coming together to make a meaningful impact on the educational experiences of students. Tutor Teens is more than just tutoring, it is a shining example of student initiative, near-peer mentorship, and relationship-building.

If you are based in the Cincinnati-Area and are interested in joining the Tutor Teens network as a tutor or student, visit: www.tutorteens.com

 We are a teen-founded, teen-led initiative using our affinity for technology to provide FREE virtual, interactive homework help to Cincinnati-area students.