Covid Catch-Up Tutors is a non-profit organization started by Wildcats Rachel Delmar and Stephanie Tadda, Seniors. Their mission is to help students who have been struggling with academics due to Covid-19. CCUT provides one-on-one virtual tutoring, college Q&A and essay-help sessions as well as story time read alouds. The non-profit partners with D214 and WHS “Rise Up” to tutor and read children’s stories in two local parks on Saturday mornings.
In late March, Rachel Delmar, like many students, had little motivation and energy for school left due to the hardships of Covid-19. She knew she wasn’t the only one feeling this way, and imagined the difficulties younger kids were facing with remote learning.
Two main realizations prompted Delmar to bring the idea of CCUT to her peers: 1) kids need help in school, and 2) students need service hours. What started as a simple concept has now become a 3-program organization with over 80 tutors and over 125 students, ranging from preschoolers to high school seniors. “I didn’t expect this to go anywhere, really. I didn’t expect to get more than like twenty people,” Delmar explains, “my team and I planned [CCUT] to go only into the summer. Starting in July and late June, we realized that we were really having a huge impact on people. All these schools were announcing that they were going remote and people needed peer-to-peer tutoring.” Covid Catch-Up Tutors certainly rose up to meet the demand.
So what goes on behind the scenes? For every student who signs up, the CCUT team crossmatches subjects, grade level, and preferred video software with available tutors. Regular website updates and community outreach are also among the tasks that amount to hours of work per week.
Seven WHS students are part of the 9-piece group running the organization. Esha Karwal, Senior, is Operations Director. “As an Operations Director at CCUT, I am responsible for making sure that everything is running smoothly. I have to reach out to communities to find more tutors and kids who want tutoring” Karwal says. Sam Martin, Senior, helps with getting the word out as well, explaining, “I have been doing the flyers we post on social media and I’ve been reaching out to companies, especially where lower income parents work, to help parents get free tutoring for their children.” With many libraries and after school programs restricting access due to Covid-19, the demand for free tutoring has risen to accommodate students.
Besides tutoring, CCUT hosts free college information sessions. Students (including WHS graduates) from UChicago, Cornell, Northwestern, and University of Illinois are among the many guest speakers who give advice to the audience. For younger students, CCUT organizes community story time readings. Stephanie Tadda’s passion for education made her the perfect candidate to spearhead the project. She uses skills developed in Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club to engage children in enrichment activities. Kindergarten through 1st graders can listen to children’s books for reading development, while 2nd through 5th graders listen to chapter books that are later discussed as a group.
Covid Catch-Up Tutors is currently in the process of becoming an official non-profit which would allow them to start fundraisers, and more specific outreach programs such as school supplies drives. The team is optimistic about their organization and are inspired everyday to keep working. Martin says, “[The work] is definitely worth it, especially when I read the reflections of parents saying how much of an impact our tutors have had on their kids.” As uncertain as the future is, the CCUT team is determined to continue helping their community.
*****To contact Covid Catch-Up Tutors to be a tutor or get school assistance, you can reach the team at [email protected] or check them out on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter*****