A project by a group of teens trying to help Bay Area students during the pandemic has gone global.
Launched in March, Quarantutors – which connects K-12 students with high school and college student volunteers who provide free online tutoring through Zoom – has exploded in popularity. According to its website, the nonprofit has now reached students and tutors in 32 states and 12 countries.
“I think we were all kind of just hoping we’ll be able to help at least a few people in our area – we did not expect for Quarantutors to extend far distance-wise as it has, and to kind of the extent that it has,” executive director and co-founder Esther Sun said. “We’re just really, really astounded by the success of it all, and we definitely owe it to all of our high school tutors, who are just putting their time and energy into helping others, and so we’re really glad about that.”
Los Altos High School junior Eesha Palasamudrum is among the founding members and serves as director of partnerships. Along with Sun, a senior at Los Gatos High, the leadership team includes director of operations Brian Dinh (Milpitas High junior) and technical director Carol Li (Stanford Online High School and Los Gatos High senior).
The four students had never met before launching Quarantutors; a similar passion and a mutual friend brought them together.
“At the beginning of quarantine in the area in March, we were all kind of independently trying to think of ways to help out,” Li said. “We all had this one mutual acquaintance of ours, and he was, like, ‘Oh, these kids all want to do pretty much the same thing,’ so he connected us, and then we scheduled a call and figured out the idea of Quarantutors.”
After a few conversations, their vision to provide some relief during troubling times became a reality.
“At the beginning of quarantine, everyone was kind of frozen and didn’t really know what to do. And we all wanted to contribute to the cause,” Li said. “Based on our, I guess, limitations as students, we thought that the best way we can do that was via academics, since we actually have knowledge and in some ways specialization.”
A few months later, the modest Bay Area project has expanded to not only the East Coast, but as far as China, Italy and the United Arab Emirates.
“I remember when we first started it, we were getting a few Bay Area tutors, and that was really exciting,” Li said. “But I remember when we first got our first East Coast tutor, we were all texting on the group chat, like, ‘Oh, my gosh, how did it get there?’ And it was really exciting. I think it’s just been really cool to see how much it’s grown.”
Spreading the word
When the co-founders created the tutoring group, they reached out to schools and nonprofits to recruit tutors to help them achieve their goal of educating students who might be struggling during the pandemic, according to Palasamudrum.
“We sent out emails to Los Altos High and Mountain View High school students, and we got a lot of our tutor signups from there,” she said. “And then (Quarantutors) also traveled using our social media – we have an Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn – so it kind of just spread by people talking to each other.”
The co-founders originally tailored Quarantutors to help low-income families during the pandemic, offering nearly every class in the U.S. education system.
“Low-income families are more vulnerable to, struggling due to, COVID,” Sun said. “And so we figured that Quarantutors would best be able to benefit low-income students who also are less likely to be able to pay for private tutoring from companies who are trying to make money. So just because of our free service, we figured that would be able to help them best.”
Now it’s available to all students who feel they need support.
Seeing the success and happiness Quarantutors has brought to so many, Dinh said they will continue to provide aid during the school year – whether it be in-person or online.
For more information, visit quarantutors.com.