Describe the mission, services and programs of YTP:
The Youth Tutoring Program is an after-school educational enrichment program for vulnerable first through twelfth grade students who live in low and mixed-income housing communities in Seattle. We offer tutoring at six locations around the city.
Last year, we supported 463 youth- most of whom were matched with dedicated tutors. We take pride in the fact that we develop individualized tutoring plans for each of our students, with a principal goal of filling in missing “skill areas” so our students can succeed on their own merit. We don’t want to do our students’ homework for them- we want to teach them what they need to know to complete it on their own.
How does YTP engage volunteers?
YTP uses a multifaceted approach to engaging volunteers. We understand that our youth benefit from the wisdom and patience provided by older people, as well as the more “current understanding” of curriculum that younger people, who are still in school, possess (I came to YTP as one of the “older” tutors before joining the staff!). As such, we try to get “on all the networks” of our potential volunteers- from using old school techniques like “flyering” and public speaking, to working all the social media platforms we can find. We love diversity!
How did you come into the field of volunteer engagement?
In 2005, I left my job as a government employee to follow my husband, an FBI agent, to Romania. We landed on a Saturday and attended church in a small, French chapel on Sunday morning. At Mass, we met a group of nuns who asked me where I was working. When I told them I’d just left my job to follow my husband, they said, “Good, we’ll see you tomorrow. We need some help.” From that point on, I became involved in recruiting and managing volunteers, as well as assisting in just about every other facet of nonprofit management.
What are some of the successes and challenges you have had engaging volunteers?
YTP maintains a great relationship with several higher level learning institutions around Seattle. With this, we are flooded with service learners several times a year. As we offer one to one tutoring experiences for our youth, it is very challenging to maintain continuous support to each of our enrolled YTP students.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would you change and why?
Working with Jesuits in Romania and Turkey, I really appreciated their emphasis on “bridging cultures,” which really helps build trust amongst people of very different backgrounds. Wouldn’t it be great to have peace and trust as a foundation for solving big problems? It sounds naïve, but you asked!
What is the most interesting item in your closet?
While both my husband and I have lived and spent time in many countries, our closets are packed with bizarre gifts – hookah pipes (no, we don’t smoke), headscarves, decorated warrior masks, a wooden Dracula from the Carpathian Mountains, and more. Those may seem interesting to some, but to me, my most interesting item is my running shoes as they never fail to lead me to another great adventure.