Virtual tutoring has been an essential resource for Seattle students over the past two years. Key Library programs like Homework Help have been unavailable in person during the pandemic. But donor support has helped the Library offer more than 4,000 live tutoring sessions on the Tutor.com platform since 2020.
The virtual program has been a major success. Ninety-five percent of participating students report that they would not be able to finish their homework without it.
Tutor.com has improved the tutoring experience for students in many ways. It provides access for those who may not have transportation to or from the Library. It expands time for students outside of in-person hours. And it delivers additional services in Spanish and Vietnamese.
But we also know that many students miss the quiet study space, one-on-one instruction, and sense of community that Homework Help provided. Over the next year, the Library will work to restore in-person Homework Help programs while keeping Tutor.com services in place. The Foundation is excited to support both versions of free tutoring to benefit all types of learners.
Eighty percent of Homework Help participants have parents who speak a language other than English at home. Students shared that their parents can’t always help them with their homework, and that they often need more time to understand their assignments. Fifty-five percent of Homework Help students report receiving better grades after attending the program.
Tutor.com has made this kind of support more accessible for high school students. Only 10 percent of pre-pandemic Homework Help users were in high school, while Tutor.com has more than doubled the high schooler participation rate.
Recent feedback from teenage participants makes it clear that both Homework Help and Tutor.com address student needs. One 10th grader using Tutor.com shared, “This is actually really helpful! And I’m glad it’s in a chat format since a lot of kids my age are much more comfortable asking for help through text or chats. I asked a question from a physics packet I’m working on and got clear and helpful answers.”
A high schooler who used to attend Homework Help at the Lake City Branch said he misses the friends he made in the program. He also misses having a distraction-free place to work. He shares a room at home with his younger brother, where he said it’s “loud as hell” and hard to concentrate on homework.
The best way to support student success is to restore in-person programs alongside virtual offerings. Tutor.com expands hours and access, boosts participation with high school students, and provides services in more languages. Homework Help fosters connections, supports social emotional learning, and provides community (and snacks!).
The Foundation wishes to thank the many supporters who make student success programs possible, including the Loeb Family Charitable Foundation and Eulalie and Carlo Scandiuzzi. We also thank the volunteers who support in-person Homework Help. We look forward to seeing you again soon!