Like Airbnb, but for tutoring.
Fiveable began with a mission to democratize learning, and it still stands at the intersection of entrepreneurship and social change today. This month, we’d like to spotlight a student-led nonprofit that makes S-tier tutoring services accessible to students remotely and for free. Join us as we interview Ingenify!
What is Ingenify?
"Ingenify is a nonprofit tutoring platform that connects students and high school tutors. It’s both a place to teach and learn at no cost. It’s a two-sided marketplace, like Airbnb, but instead of guests looking for hosts for a temporary stay, K-12 students are looking for excellent high school tutors to learn from."
What motivated you to start Ingenify?
"I remember back when the COVID pandemic had hit America back in March, there was so much uncertainty about remote education and online schools, which seemed destined to dictate student lives for an indefinite period. Our personal experiences with online school have simply been abysmal; there was no retention of content, work was piling up, and teachers couldn’t effectively teach online. Furthermore, online schools have also cut a lot of student opportunities and extracurriculars, which greatly impacted clubs like Beta, Honors Societies, and other activities that we were all part of, but were canceled or postponed. This simultaneous rise in demand for help with school and lack of volunteering opportunities for students hit us last summer, which prompted us to make a platform that allows people to tutor and learn, thus resolving both of these issues. Overall, I’d say that our motivation and inspiration for creating Ingenify was just us connecting the dots to the struggles that we’ve been facing during high school ourselves."
What makes Ingenify different from other tutoring services?
"In most cases, existing tutoring services provide the tutoring themselves—whether that be getting paid tutors to assist students at a premium, or as a temporary, one-off effort to offer volunteer tutoring in a bootcamp or an event. Furthermore, with both free and paid tutoring organizations, students usually can’t even choose the tutors that they learn from. But Ingenify is drastically different in three ways. First, it is a platform, where tutors are from all over the country and affiliated with various service organizations (Honors Societies, for example) rather than Ingenify providing the tutoring ourselves. Second, students have their pick of tutors to learn from, and you can see who’s the best fit by looking at star ratings, reviews, and the number of hours that the tutor has taught. Finally, Ingenify has the ultimate amount of flexibility. Tutoring and learning isn’t just a one-time thing: tutoring sessions occur between a single tutor and a single student, so meetings can occur whenever and however often the tutor and student want."
How can students volunteer for Ingenify?
"Signing up to volunteer on the site is very easy, and convenience is one of the big appeals of Ingenify to high school students looking to tutor. Make an account on ingenify.org, create a profile, and we will reach out to you to do a quick interview. Once this vetting process is complete, you will be displayed on the site and enabled to teach. That’s it! Students will then be able to reach out to you to schedule tutoring sessions, and the site will automatically log your hours once they are complete."
What are some challenges that have come up and how have you overcome them?
"Some challenges that have come up have been the bureaucratic processes in schools and counties. The American education system, like many things run by the government, are usually very risk-averse and are unwilling to try new things. Even though the site is completely secure and students and tutors have only ever had positive experiences on ingenify.org, it’s very difficult for specific schools or counties to advertise us to their students. We’ve overcome this challenge by getting included in publications like the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which bolsters our credibility with the school system."
Do you anticipate any changes post-pandemic?
"The pandemic would certainly bring forth changes to remote tutoring, as through some of our surveys, some of the tutors on the site have voiced their preference for in-person teaching. However, the advantages of online tutoring, such as its accessibility from your home, reach that is unlimited by geographical location, and easier counter for hours, do certainly still make the current Ingenify model an appeal to many that want to continue teaching and learning online. Once school resumes in-person instruction, we will also be looking to partner up with more clubs and organizations in school and locally to potentially provide tutoring to a broader reach and potentially a mixed form of both IRL and remote learning."
Where do you see Ingenify in five years?
"While all of us will long be in college in five years, we don’t see ourselves abandoning Ingenify anytime soon. Ever since the first day of creating the platform, we have never envisioned it as just “another high school nonprofit for the resume,” but rather a project and catalyst for real change to the way peer-to-peer education functions, and to help the maximum number of people that we can reach. In five years, we hope to have hundreds of thousands of tutors and students and really make a difference in American education."
If you’re interested in learning more about Ingenify, check out their website here