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Peer2Peer receives grant to help underprivileged students

Thanks to federal funding, underprivileged students at Strathmore Elementary in Silver Spring will  now get free tutoring from high school students who work for Peer2Peer tutors.

The 21st-Century Learning Center, a Congressional educational incentive program, awarded Peer2Peer Tutors a three-year grant to pay for 1,000 hours of tutoring high-poverty students like those at Strathmore.

“Though only 12 miles apart, Whitman and Strathmore couldn’t be more different,” said Erik Kimel, the CEO of Peer2Peer tutors. “With the grant, we’ll be able to help students who come from families who can’t afford the extra opportunities that many students in Bethesda get.”

The 21st-Century Learning Center chose Peer2Peer Tutors for the grant because of the organization’s reputation in the community and its large number of youth job opportunities, Kimel said.

Each of 13 assigned tutors will work with three students at Strathmore for two hours a day, Monday through Thursday, in the school’s library. One hour will be devoted to math tutoring and the other to a fun enrichment activity.
Kimel hopes that the program will teach students valuable skills that they can use in future classes.

“It’s the most beautiful thing in the world to be able to help these students,” Kimel said. “We’re empowering them with the knowledge they need to succeed.”

The principal and resource teachers at Strathmore chose 45 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students who were scoring below grade level to participate in the program.

The elementary students were skeptical of the tutoring program at first, but have since become more open to their tutors, said senior Sarah Gizaw, a student tutor who attends John F. Kennedy High.

“The students at Strathmore need role models they can look up to,” Gizaw said. “As tutors, we’re like brothers and sisters who encourage them to work hard and help them when they’re having trouble.”

Although 30 Whitman students currently work for Peer2Peer Tutors, none of them currently participate in the Strathmore program.

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