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UNT alumni create tutoring program for Internet users
Jennifer Zhang / Intern
A free tutoring program designed by former UNT Texas Academy of Mathematics and Sciences students will be come available to the public on Feb. 4. after being delayed from the original September release date.
Forward Tutoring is a nonprofit organization that aims to improve academic achievement and promote youth volunteerism with its novel nonprofit business concept.
Students can “pay forward” their tutoring services with their hours of community service.
Students who can’t afford tutoring are set up with volunteer tutors through the Internet program, and in turn, the tutors are credited with community service and are eligible for scholarships with Forward Tutoring’s partners.
The program began as a simple idea of giving back and “paying it forward” by former TAMS students Stephanie Nguyen, David Chi, Mitchell Powell, Mariko Nakamura, Shannon Lu, and Brian Ng.
Mitchell Powell, one of the co-founders who is now a freshman at Yale University, said he was riding to UNT with Nguyen to the main campus when she mentioned the idea.
“My involvement in Forward Tutoring began when I was approached by my good friend, Stephanie Nguyen, for a ride to the University of North Texas. It seemed harmless at the time, as I was doing research there during the summer and so commuting daily,” Powell said. “As it turned out, Stephanie had sinister plans for that car ride, and so unfolded her grand vision for this organization that she called ‘Forward Tutoring.’”
David Chi, another co-founder who is also now a freshman at Yale University said the group looked at the three areas of the program in order to come up with the idea.
“We started with the educational and volunteer needs we saw in the community and asked, ‘Why do things have to be this way?’” Chi said.
It was originally supposed to be released in September, but was pushed back to run additional tests for the website and to market towards more nonprofit organizations.
The program was tested among different high schools in the Denton area and then was entered into multiple contests.
The program was entered into a contest called “Boost The Biz” by PostNet, and won out of 200 total applicants. The students won $15,000 as a result of the contest.
It also won the Dell Education Challenge, a contest with more than 400 applicants. The group won $10,000 fromor the contest.
Even though many of the co-founders are currently attending different universities to establish their own chapters, the TAMS/UNT chapter of Forward Tutoring still remains close since six of the seven co-founders are TAMS alumni.
“Our efforts for the venture drew upon the resources available to us at TAMS in so many ways that we have become inextricably linked,” Powell said.
There is currently a team of 19 TAMS students working with the Forward Tutoring co-founders on the mission of orchestrating the Forward Tutoring launch.
With the launch approaching soon, Powell said his anticipation is building up and that he wants the concept to “spread like wildfire.”
“Forward Tutoring truly is a revolutionary social idea, but there are many obstacles to even the best ideas, and we must steer Forward Tutoring through these hurdles,” Powell said. “After launch, I expect Forward Tutoring will need a lot of pushing, marketing and work to catch up on in local schools and volunteering organizations.”