Seth Linden, a former teacher and current CEO of Tutorpedia, a San Francisco-based company that provides one-on-one tutoring to elementary through high school students throughout the Bay Area, is passionate about his mission to get kids the help they need to succeed in school. His hybrid company, Tutorpedia (for profit) and the Tutorpedia Foundation (non-profit) helps both those who can afford to hire a private tutor and those who can not. His staff of 50 part-time experienced tutors, many of whom are retired teachers or graduate students, works with students in Burlingame and other Bay Area cities.
Linden believes that when it comes to education one size does not fit all, and that’s where one-on-one tutoring can be effective. Students can learn at their own pace, connect with adults, build their confidence and grow to become lifelong learners. When they go back to class, students who have been tutored are more likely to participate and ask their teacher for help when they need it, he said. He added that they are also more likely to get engage with the subject matter and get better grades.
After teaching math at Sacred Heart Preparatory School in Atherton, at the MET Alternative School in Providence, RI, and at Lionel Wilson School (an Aspire Charter School in Oakland), Linden realized that what he really enjoyed about teaching was the times he connected one-on-one with students. And those one-on-one relationships helped those students succeed. That led him to start his own company to foster those one-on-one relationships in 2005.
He tutored a few students at Sacred Heart, and then hired a few more tutors. His company quickly grew as he hired 20, then 50 tutors. In 2007, with the help of federal dollars under the No Child Left Behind law, his company became a Supplemental Educational Services (SES) provider and was able to provide services free of charge to families in the Ravenswood School District in East Palo Alto and at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in San Francisco.
When the federal monies dried up in 2009, he wanted to continue to serve low-income students who can’t afford to pay private tutors. He formed the nonprofit Tutorpedia Foundation and now holds fundraisers and seeks grants so that he can continue to provide these services.
“Not having those federal dollars has been a blessing in disguise,” he said. Now he’s in control of the cash flow and doesn’t have to rely on the whims of the federal government. For just $1,000 (which he raises through grants and donations) he can provide tutoring services for a student one hour per week for nine months.
“My girls are improving by leaps and bounds,” said Natalie, a parent of two daughters in Oakland and a Tutorpedia Foundation client.
“Sometimes I really do have struggles with my homework and my reading,” her daughter Ashley, a second-grader, added. “My tutor Heleyna helps me with my reading. She helps me sound out the words and we write them down.”
In addition to matching tutors with students, Tutorpedia also provides free talks at schools throughout the Bay Area on SAT prep, study skills and how the brain works, as well as project-based workshops for middle and high school students on a variety of subjects and topics from the art of essay writing to a history of 20th century music. The workshops typically involve six to 12 students and are given over the course of six to 10 two-hour sessions.
Linden’s passionate belief in the dramatic effects of one-on-one tutoring led him to give a talk at the TEDx Conference in Monterey last May on his dream of providing one-on-one tutoring for all students. The gist of his message—if we could provide one-on-one tutoring to every student, we could tailor learning to their needs. As a result, graduation rates would soar and students would be well prepared for college and the workplace.
You can learn more about Tutorpedia at www.Tutorpedia.com.