Teenagers’ tutoring service wins first prize in entrepreneurship competitors

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Intuitionally, a free online tutoring service launched by high school teenagers amid the pandemic won first prize in the University of Delaware’s Horn Entrepreneurship Diamond Challenge on Friday, weeks after being featured on CBS This Morning ”was presented.

The story highlighted how students from across the country are helping younger children bridge the digital divide through the service that matches tutors with tutees. When the play aired, Intutorly had approximately 1,000 children – 500 tutors and 500 tutees. Intutorly co-founders, Virginia teenagers Alex Joel and younger brother Ben, say the program has since grown to serve hundreds more children.

“Thanks to the incredible coverage, we are now up to 840 students (tutees), including students from rural areas like Nebraska, Indiana, and we recently got students from the Lakota Indian Reservation in South Dakota,” Alex said in an interview with CBS News about the weekend.

“We’re up to 700 tutors now, so it’s a huge growth all round,” added Ben.

Ben Joel (left) and his older brother Alex Joel (right) started the virtual tutoring service Intutorly to help children during the pandemic.

Courtesy of Marlene Games

The boys and Intutorly’s former director of business development, Sophia Toback from North Carolina, submitted a pitch deck and video for the Diamond Challenge for the first time in February. After the story “CBS This Morning” aired, they updated their materials and were selected as semi-finalists from a pool of over 5,000 students from 32 states and 55 countries. The semi-finals of the high school’s global entrepreneurship competition included participation in a three-day summit, panel Q&A, and an award ceremony.

Intutorly received $ 8,000 in prize money for the Challenge’s Social Innovation (Non-Profit) Track. Alex and Ben said they will reinvest the money in Intutorly and build up the administrative staff so the service can continue to reach new students and tutors. Both described winning as surreal.

“We loved it,” said Alex. “The competition was very tough and it was amazing to finally realize that we got in first, oh my god.”

The week-long experience in which the semi-finalists develop new entrepreneurial skills and participate in workshops that range from creating an anti-racist culture to building your personal brand is considered the world’s leading high school entrepreneurship competition. It offers teenagers a total of $ 100,000 in prizes and resources to help them take their ideas to the next level.

When the pandemic temporarily halted face-to-face learning last spring, studies suggest that the educational gap among young students is widening. After reading news articles about potential learning loss, Alex and Ben decided to create this free service to provide virtual teaching to elementary school students.

With the help of their classmates and colleagues, the group of high school tutors and younger students grew up through word of mouth, social media, and media coverage. By the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, the service had connected hundreds of students from around the world. Intutorly is now building a bridge to the future in 35 states, the District of Columbia and seven countries.

It’s one of several free online tutoring services launched by students during the pandemic to help tackle distance learning difficulties and isolation. The “CBS This Morning” story also featured Educove, which was created by high school seniors in Brooklyn, New York after the founders discovered their younger siblings were having study problems at home.

Today, most students across the country attend at least some form of face-to-face learning. In the past few months, more school districts have reopened classrooms as teachers received the COVID-19 vaccine and the CDC released updated guidelines for safe personal schooling.

Arthur Jones II (@arthurjonesii) is an associate producer for CBS This Morning in his hometown of Washington, DC