The mission of the nonprofit Growth and Inspiration through Volunteering and Education (GIVE) is “to provide an opportunity for students to reach their fullest potential by breaking down the economic and social barriers [to education],” said Executive Director of Outreach Hana Choi.
The organization was created by FCPS students more than 10 years ago to supply free tutoring to local students from kindergarten to 8th grade.
GIVE is entirely student-led but relies on involved tutees, parents, tutors, center managers, and schools throughout the county. All of GIVE’s current executive directors were first involved as tutors, some starting as early as middle school, and had experiences with education inequity.
“One’s access to resources has a significant impact on their opportunities,” Operations Director Tina Gao said. “Education inequality does not just affect traditional schoolwork but also communal education”–social education about how to interact in a community, added Choi, a senior a Robinson Secondary School.
“Some people had additional resources from outside of class, some students talked about how they had help from their parents, while [others] had neither,” Gao observed about her classmates at Oakton High.
“I am privileged to attend a high school with so many opportunities that many minority communities do not have access to,” noted Alison Chavez, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High, and operations director at GIVE.
They support communities with fewer education resources by translating learning and outreach material to multiple languages and offering free supplies (such as pencils, paper, worksheets, and more).
The organization partners with local community centers to host in-person weekend tutoring sessions and, since the pandemic, offers four virtual sessions. GIVE’s center managers equip tutors with a variety of resources from the organization’s website, a running tutor guide, and school material to prepare them for their sessions.
Center managers match what tutees need and where tutors excel to create lasting relationships that will build confidence for both. Tutors use those relationships to individualize sessions on an academic and personal level.
Sessions are “educational and helpful while being enjoyable and allowing tutees to talk to older students and gain life skills. … Both sides can gain knowledge from the other side,” said Outreach Director Aauyusa Dhakal.
“Throughout this process, I got to know my students personally and it was interesting to learn about their experiences in and out of school. I even got invited to one of my student’s elementary school graduation,” added Dhakal, a junior at Robinson.
“Neither I nor anyone else walks into GIVE hoping for an extra line on their resume or college application,” Choi said. “Our tutors are dedicated to helping tutees learn and enjoy learning because love for learning is something that every student should have,” Dhakal added.
GIVE has grown from four centers to 20. They have an average annual membership of about 2,000 tutees and 1,000 tutors.
They want to expand their reach by welcoming more tutors, students, and localities. “[We’re] focused on expanding the number of centers we currently offer and on increasing registration for those centers,” while considering the proximity to Title 1 schools, said Chavez.
“This need to decrease the education gap in our communities can be fulfilled by the community and I think it’s important to remember that because we are ultimately the only ones [who] can cause change,” said Dhakal.
“There is so much more to GIVE than being a volunteer service, … it is also a chance for students of all statuses to realize the importance of accessible education not just in terms of money but also ease in connecting,” Choi said, adding that GIVE is “proof that there is good in the world.”
Visit www.giveyouth.org for more information on GIVE and how to get involved.
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