Ferguson Youth Tutoring develops in second year


use by permission, www.fergusonyouthtutors.org

Tutoring Ferguson students in math, Joan Tao volunteers twice a week. "I felt like I needed to help out in Ferguson after what happened, I also believe education is important," Tao said.

Since starting last February the Ferguson Youth Tutors (FYT) has grown and undergone changes, and had gotten help from multiple schools.

Since I was the only Parkway West kid at the time, I started recruiting my friend in February and I saw it as a really great cause, so I immediately wanted to help expands from other schools in the area like Parkway North, Marquette and Lafayette,” senior Joe Ross said.

Ross stepped in to serve as the Treasurer of FYT and established it as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

“Being a state-recognized charitable group allows us to receive donations without being taxed for them. Since I joined in February, we have expanded from a once weekly meeting, with about two tutors to five students, to an official charitable organization that meets three times a week and attracts tutors from over 10 schools,” Ross said.

Ross joined the program to help students who do not have the same resources as other schools.

“The public schools in the [Ferguson community] don’t provide students with the essential educational resources that we take for granted, like high-quality textbooks,” Ross said. “Many of the kids in Ferguson are extremely ambitious and love to learn, but their potential is restricted because of the lack of resources. I am really passionate about this idea of education equality, so I felt that the cause of the Ferguson Youth Tutors was a great one.”

While the organization is only in its second school year, Ross believes getting service hours sponsored by our honor societies will help improve the quality of the program.

We got Beta Chi Pi, Mu Alpha Theta and Community Outreach at West (COW) to accept service hours spent at Ferguson Youth Tutors. I think this will be a great incentive for people to come now that they will be recognized for their service to the community,” he said.

The program is managed by a conglomerate of students from Washington University – St. Louis and a variety of St. Louis area high schools.

“We plan on continuing this program by passing on leadership positions to underclassmen. Also, we have gotten a service fraternity at Washington University involved with the management of FYT, so they will continue to help keep us organized, managing media, fundraising, [and other similar positions],” Ross said.

Along with the lack of material needs which are being met by donations from local companies, the tutors see additional issues Ferguson students face.

“The greatest problems our students face is staying focused in class,” Ross said. “I understand why they might get bored and class, and that’s exactly why we want to tutor them; it is more interesting for them when someone closer to their age is teaching them.”

In light of this recognition, Ross believes that there will continue to be an upward trend in scores as a result of the growth of FYT.

“The most rewarding part of helping other students is seeing them take in interest in what we’re teaching them,” he said. “Seeing them improve in their test and quiz score week after week of them coming to tutoring really makes us tutors see that the impact we’re making is actually tangible. This really makes the two hours we are sacrificing worthwhile.”