Diego grew up in Back of the Yards, an under-resourced community in Chicago’s Southside, and received little academic support from people he knew. Although he understood that people in his community wanted to help him academically, many of them couldn’t since they themselves didn’t graduate from grammar school. This experience led to Diego becoming a tutor as soon as he enrolled into high school. After two years of tutoring in neighborhood elementary schools, he eventually founded the Bridge Tutoring Program in November one day after his seventeenth birthday-“The program was a birthday present to me because it meant helping children who were in the same situation I was and that’s just a great feeling.”
With under a year of having begun this program, The Bridge Tutoring Program has now expanded to 4 community high schools and 5 elementary schools in Chicago’s Southside. These schools are located in 4 distinct neighborhoods where the program is operated voluntarily by high school tutors in each respective community. By early November they will be expecting to have about 150 tutors and about 300 students participating in weekly tutoring sessions through this program. The tutors provided over 800 service hours of service last year and are expecting approximately 5,000 hours of service by the end of the 2017-2018 school year. “It’s such a rewarding experience when, as a tutor, you are able to look back at all of the time one has dedicated to this program and reflect on the impact we have caused on not only the students, but the community as well,” shared Stefany.
Our GLP scholars have not been the only ones putting in the hard work, however. With the program expanding each time more and more, Cain and Demitri Yepez, Jones College Prep Seniors, have now been added to the board of coordinating officers for this program as well.
Although our scholars have come thus far within only a year, they still have many plans ahead and don’t plan on stopping any time soon. “We can’t stop now,” Stefany shares. “We believe that every student deserves to have access to more programs like this in their school, and we are willing to provide it with the best quality and to as many students as possible.” Within the next few months, our scholars will be launching the official Bridge Tutoring website, Facebook page and will remain trying to expand their program. Along with this, they plan on providing the program’s tutors with professional tutor training and will be providing middle schoolers with selective enrollment test prep. “We wish to provide our tutees with as many opportunities as possible and truly forge a path for them to pursue a higher education. We want to be as best prepared for this and plan on only providing the best,” Stefany explained.
The Global Leaders Program has been working alongside these scholars to provide support for all of their endeavors especially community orientated ones like the Bridge Tutoring Program. GLP leads their scholars through annual community innovation projects designed to help provide some type of support to under-resourced communities whether it be through education or renewable resources. “The community innovation project definitely shifted my paradigm in how I saw community service and helped motivate me to come up with this program” recounts Diego. Both GLP scholars said that anytime they have a question or need advice about expanding the program they are confident that they can receive an answer and additional support by sending Charlie, or any of the GLP staff, a quick and simple email. Currently, the Global Leaders Program is helping connect the Bridge Tutoring Program with ARC Tutors at IIT in order to try to provide free tutoring training to over 150 tutors who participate in this program in an effort to further improve tutoring quality and help more Chicago students in the process.