🎊Start a Reach Out Chapter🎊

Before you read, let me know you’re interested: anoffvu@gmail.com or text me at (316) 650–9552

This guide was written for motivated high school students looking to found a chapter of Reach Out–a service organization looking to close the achievement gap and enable the underprivileged.

Let’s start with WHY:

“Let’s close the Achievement gap.”

Besides the fact that more and more students are volunteering and the need for youth volunteers continues to grow, there are tons of reasons to start a Reach Out chapter. Our mission at Reach Out is to “Help close the achievement gap by offering free tutoring in low-income communities”. This gap is a serious problem. We think it’s total BS that poor and minority students are not being empowered and educated at the same level that the rest of the country is. So much for an equal playing field, eh? If you don’t believe me, here is a recent Stanford study on the achievement gap. According to this study, the richest 10% of students are on average 4–8 YEARS ahead of the other 90% in math, reading, and science. And it’s only getting worse year over year.

That’s crazy. It makes sense though, they don’t have the resources to hire tutors and their schools aren’t as good. How do you expect a low-income kid to get help with his 5th grade with the current tutoring rates of $50–100/hour?? You can’t. Most people can’t. So, I created Reach Out, to help fight this achievement gap. Imagine if everyone was set on an equal playing field; imagine what we’d be able to accomplish. This is why you should open a Reach Out chapter.

Okay, that was intense, but the rest of the guide is light and has pictures :D.

(This guide may seem like a lot, but it’s really really easy once you have all the administrative stuff set up. Plus, the guide is extremely comprehensive. Feel free to delegate some of the work with a partner, or hit me up at any time and I’ll try to help.)

1. Reach out to low income schools 🏫

You’ll want to talk to the schools you want to help. Email one low-income school principal or teacher at a time. Follow up a few days later if there isn’t a reply. My initial emails went something like this:

My name is An Vu. I am a junior at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic School. I have created a volunteering tutoring program to help give back to my community. It’s called Reach Out. We want to fight the financial achievement gap by offering free tutoring in low-income communities. Low-income students fall far behind their more affluent peers by an average of 6 grade levels by the time they reach high school, and this is exactly what we’re trying to fix. I’d love to expand my program to Holy Savior Catholic Academy! We could regularly send 3/4 tutors each Tuesday and Thursday to Holy Savior. Reach out has a few other chapters, and the principals, teachers and kids of the partner schools love having the tutors come every week! We would offer volunteer tutoring for your kids in your after-school program. The kids may be tutored in whatever subject they would like! We regularly ask the teachers who we should be working with and who might need some extra help. The principal at Holy Savior, Dr. Shropshire (dshropshire@holy-savior.org), has told us that his students have benefitted immensely from our tutoring. Feel free to reach out to her to get her thoughts on Reach Out.
Please let me know if there’s any way that we can make this work in (their school) as well. I would love to come by and talk! If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this email or call me at (316) XXX-XXXX.
Thanks so much!
An Vu

Here’s another successful email sent by Isabel Perez, the chapter founder at Southwest Career Technical Academy (Las Vegas).

Hello Ms. Teacher,
My name is Isabel Perezand I am currently a senior attending Southwest Career Technical Academy. Our school is accredited as a rigorous school while studying our desired programs. Our school believes in helping our community especially to younger students.
I am a member in National Honor Society and I am trying to start a program created from a student in another state that benefits young elementary children who are struggling to succeed in their academics. Now as a student who struggled in elementary as well I always sought to have older students help me in my education as they were once in my position. I saw the statistics of your school and I would like to offer my help along with my NHS peers to assist in after school tutoring for students, who have the permission from their parents to help tutor. You can trust us students in NHS to help your students since we are required to have at least a 3.5 gpa or above to be in our club.
This is an opportunity to help your students improve their academics and for us to benefit our teaching skills. Please let me know how we can get this started and feel free to text or call me.
Best regards,
Isabel Perez

Both emails were successful, feel free to copy!

2. Set up a Google account 📫

After, you’ve gotten the approval from the partner school, you’ll need to create a personal google account. It’s 2017, so you probably have one.

3. Create your records📝

Go create a registration form for your volunteers. We used google forms for this. Here is the original form, feel free to fill it out and see all the questions.

If you want me to send you a copy so you can just edit a few things to make it your own and not have to start over, text or email me.

However, if you’re a try hard or computer geek (like me), you can make your own here.

You’ll need to collect the following:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Age
  • Grade
  • Phone number
  • How many times would they like to tutor per month (1–8)
  • Optional: What days would they be able to tutor? (make a checkbox for Tuesday/Thursday or even find days of the week that work for your program.)
  • Optional: Would you be interested in a leadership position within Reach Out (You will need to be able to drive and tutor every or every other week)
  • Special requests/jokes in case you need a quick laugh

You’ll want to hook this survey up to a google sheets to store all the data which you can do by clicking the responses tab and clicking on the green sheets icon next to the three dots in the middle:

Then you’ll need to create a separate google sheets doc to keep track of service hours. This is what you will share with “Leads” (I’ll get to that later) so that they can record service hours for those that tutor. This is what mine looks like.

4. Getcha some volunteers 🙋🙋

Reach out to your friends, classmates, and awkward acquaintances, see if they’d be interested in helping out. I first went to my class group chat and sent this long, cringe worthy text:

Heyo ! It’s me An Vu.
I’ve started a new service project to help out the less fortunate schools in our city, I call it Reach Out. We offer free after school tutoring to these schools in an effort to close the achievement gap in low-income communities.
We are currently in St. Patrick’s and Holy Savior Academy, but we are working to expand to other schools that need it.
I’ve got everything set up, but we really need tutors. We don’t have enough people to meet these schools’ needs. Rides to the schools and back to Kapaun will be provided. We tutor on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
If you’d like to sign up to offer just an hour of your time to help out an underfunded school in our community or if you would like to learn more about it, please go here:
(I included a google forms registration link here, I’ll tell you how to do this later)
Why would you want to do this?
1. Give back to the community. (and God DUH!)
2. Make a difference in a child’s life!
3. Close the academic achievement gap — Rich or poor, every kid deserves the chance to succeed!
4. (community) SERVICE HOURS!!!!!! (We’ll keep track & sign off on those for ya)
5. Looks AMAZING on college applications/resumes!
Call, text, or email me if you have any questions!
Thank you!!

Yes, it was a big step for my socially anxious self, but it really works! We got something like 20 people signed up that weekend which was about 1/5th of the whole group chat.

If you wanted to ask your friends/fellow nhs members/club mates personally/awkward acquaintances personally, you could send them a little text like this:

Hey (awkward acquaintance’s name or more commonly “bro”), I’m thinking about starting a service project at Kapaun (my school). We would offer free tutoring in lower-income communities to close the achievement gap. The richest 10% of students in the US are something like 7 grade levels ahead of their less fortunate peers (and I think thats pretty f***ed up). I think that everyone should have an equal chance of succeeding in life no matter where you come from. Would you be interested in helping out a few times a month if I started this? It’s very low commitment, and tutoring sessions last an hour. We can even drive you from school to the partner schools. Plus you’d get service hours! Would you be interested in helping out a few times a month if I started this?

Feel free to use some other non-cheesy form of that template if you please.

The 3 most common responses were:

I might not have time!
This is when you reply: “That doesn’t matter! We can squeeze you in whenever you’re free, and it’s only an hour after school.”
I’m not smart enough!
“Don’t worry about that! You’ll be helping grade school kids, you can multiply, can’t you??”
I can tutor this season, but I have soccer in the spring :(
“That’s okay! We can take you off the rotation as soon as you get busy!”

Get creative! Make flyers to post around the school, get on the school announcements! It’s for a good cause people!

5. Managing Reach Out 🔑🔑🔑

So it’s a week later, and you’ve plugged the volunteer sign up announcement every place you could think of. You’ve even asked your 8th grade ex to help because you’re so committed to the cause. Now is where we really start. I’ll break down my current system of scheduling/running the program.

5a) Set up your leadership team 🤜🏼🤛🏾

I assume you’re taking the role of president, because who doesn’t want want the free title?? Now, we need some other people to help you run this thing. You should pick 3–4 other people to serve as “Leads”. These leads are the daily managers of the program. Their job is basically giving rides to and from the school if an underclassman needs it. They will also be in charge of tracking service hours so that they can be signed off at the end of the year by a teacher.

Once you have this team assembled, do a trial run at the partner school. Ask the school when a good day would be to drop by after school and tutor and run a normal Reach Out day. Get the kinks ironed out, where you will tutor, park, if you will go off to a separate room, find out which students need the help according to the teachers, etc. This way, your leads also learn how to lead the program from day to day.

Here’s how I asked my friends to be leads:

I also offered to pay for their gas which comes out to be like $12 for a year of tutoring. You can offer this too if you’re having problem getting people, and just let me know and I’ll pay em. No one took gas money last year, but it is an option.

5b) Schedule your tutors & publish the list 📅

You’ll want all of your tutors in a large groupme. Tell them not to say anything unless its urgent, and otherwise to private message you with any questions or else it’ll get pretty hectic as group messages tend to be. Then, schedule tutors in based on how many times they want to go this month/what day they want to go/what school they want to go to. I scheduled 3 tutors + 1 lead for one of the schools that used us a lot, and only 1 tutor and 1 lead for another school that only had about 10 students that we helped. I used google calendar because I’m extra and it looks nice and professional. Feel free to use Word and just type in their names. I then sent this schedule to the principal/chapter manager at the partner school as well as in the groupme so everyone knows what day they need to tutor.

5c) Remind the tutors (Day before) ⏰

I’ve got an alarm at 8 O’clock on mondays and wednesdays (days before tutoring) to remind me to send a text to everyone who’s tutoring the next day.

My texts went like this:

Sometimes things come up, so if someone cancels it’s no biggie. If you want, you can try to find a sub or sub yourself. Once or twice no one could make it because they all had a debate tournament or soccer game, so I would just email the manager at the partner school with something like “Hey, our tutors are busy, so no one could make it out today. Sorry about that!”

5d) Running the Reach Out (Day of) 💰

Today, if you aren’t tutoring, you just make sure everyone finds their rides (have them meet in the lobby or something). Then after the tutoring, make sure that your leads update the service hours in the spreadsheet.

If you are tutoring or serving as a lead, you will show up at the partner school. Tutor the kids that the teachers have said needed help. I didn’t bother getting a separate room for tutoring, but if that works for you, you can always ask.

5e) Signing hours (End of the year) 🖋

Near the end of the year, I had one of my partners fill out all the service hour forms for our volunteers up to the signature. Usually any teacher at the school will sign off on these for you. In case they need proof, show the tutoring hours spreadsheet, and if they ask further, show the edit/revision history on the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet edits should be maintained and updated the day of service. If you’re still paranoid, keep a sheet at the partner school for a supervisor to initial each time your tutors come.

5f) Finding leadership for next year (End of the year) 👶🏽

Small step before we call it over: you’ll need to find someone to run this for you next year! (Assuming you’re a senior) This is easy, just find some motivated tutors in the grade beneath, and run them through this guide!

🎉That’s it!🎉


I probably left something out, so if something isn’t clear, please let me know!

Now before you go out and change the world, shoot me an email: anoffvu@gmail.com

Together, we’ll close the achievement gap.

Check out our recent front page article in the Catholic Advance!