Akanksha Shah ‘17 wanted a flexible work opportunity that aligned with her passion for education and with her UChicago class schedule. She couldn’t find one that fit the bill … so she worked with the Neighborhood Schools Program (NSP) to create one.
“Maroon Tutor Match helped me learn to work with people — not just students and families, but tutors as well — who were very different from me and had different priorities and struggles. Getting a better understanding of where people are coming from is invaluable.”
Shah approached the NSP in 2015 with her idea for Maroon Tutor Match (MTM), an affordable, one-on-one tutoring program connecting University student tutors with local K–12 students based on their needs and schedules. “NSP provided incredible support for us,” Shah says, including funding a pilot program and introducing MTM to NSP partner schools near the University. Today, 275 MTM tutors serve more than 400 students every year.
On average, MTM-tutored students improve a full letter grade in the subject area where they receive tutoring. Many of them are also delighted to explore UChicago for the first time. “I heard from a number of kids that MTM was their first chance to see what the campus was all about — to go into the libraries and think ‘hey, I belong here,’” Shah says. “If you’ve never been on campus, how can you envision yourself there as a student? That kind of exposure is key.”
Exposure to new surroundings goes both ways for MTM participants, Shah says; because tutor-student pairs can meet in any public spaces that are convenient for both, “tutors end up spending a lot of time in Woodlawn, South Shore, Kenwood —neighborhoods that they might not have seen otherwise. As a University student it’s great to understand where you’re situated, especially in an area as complex as the South Side.”