By Susan Gale
A Rhode Island man is working to make education accessible and affordable to everyone with his social enterprise Go Peer – a college student tutoring business for children in grades K-12.
Along the way, his company has developed a digital tutoring classroom that may be a way to bring tutoring to every child no matter where they live or how much money their parents have. Right now, the company does 70% of its lessons online with the rest in person but is moving forward to be 100% online.
“Resources for private tutors are not always evenly distributed in terms of where students live and where the teachers are. Our mission is to make it accessible and affordable to all students. We really want to assure all students have access to good education,” Founder Ethan Binder said. “We built our own digital classroom, making online education collaborative and personalized so it’s highly effective.”
Founder Ethan Binder
Binder started the business two years ago while a college student at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania along with two other students who are computer science majors, Erick Laucks and Zura Mestiashvili. Binder graduated in May 2019 and Go Peer is currently taking part in the prestigious MASS Challenge Accelerator.
Since starting, Go Peer has had more than 3,250 college students apply to be tutors and has provided tutoring to more than 1,150 children. They charge a flat rate of $25 per hour, which Binder said is 1/3rd the national average cost for tutoring. In the future, Go Peer hopes to start a scholarship for students who can’t afford the $25 per hour.
Go Peer was launched in Rhode Island and is headquartered here. It currently has 150 Brown University students working as tutors. While it’s current base is Rhode Island and the Boston area, Go Peer has also done digital tutoring for students in cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco.
A Go Peer tutor also helped a student who was at Hasbro Children’s Hospital for several weeks to get back on track with schoolwork. “That story is special to us,” Binder said.
Digital Classroom of the future
The digital classroom has a white board that the tutor writes on, a collaborative note space, and audio/video. Students can access the white boards in between sessions to go back over their work.
“The goal is to make it feel like it’s in person with real-time synchronized collaboration,” Binder said of the software, which his company will be piloting with educational institutions so they can help their students digitally, to reach even more children.
“Over the last two years we’ve met and spoken with thousands of tutors and students to carefully refine our service. We’ve had plenty of product iterations, but from the insights gained, we have created the most versatile digital classroom that makes online tutoring personalized, effective, and collaborative,” he said.
“Online tutoring is a solution that will provide the accessibility, affordability, and flexibility necessary to move education forward in a substantial way.”
Examples of Go Peer’s Digital Classroom
Tutors near in age with students
“Near peer mentorship – with tutors having just navigated the same obstacles and barriers – they can create an effective and engaging learning environment,” Binder said.
Go Peer does personality matching and learns the type of learner a student is so their tutoring can be structured to keep the student engaged. This works especially well for students who are less than enthusiastic about learning. “Being close in age is definitely a factor,” in success, Binder said.
Education as an investment
Ultimately, Go Peer wants to change the world’s view of education
“So many people view education as an expense rather than an investment,” Binder said. “By making it more available and affordable, we hope to change that.”
Want to try out Go Peer’s services for free?
Email Ethan@gopeer.org to receive a free 60-minute lesson or use the code FREE30 for a free 30-minute session.
Want to meet Go Peer tutors?
5-Step Process to approve tutors
Go Peer’s tutors are fully vetted before they start tutoring. All tutors are currently enrolled college students. Every tutor applicant is reviewed and screened by the GoPeer team. When evaluating tutors, they look for prior tutoring or teaching experience, subject expertise, and a desire to help other students. Tutors go through a 5-step on-boarding process
- Academic screening
- Experience check
- Background check (details below)
The Background Check includes the following: SSN validation; address history; driving records check (motor vehicle records); national and international employment verification; sex offender registry check; state criminal records check; national criminal records check; federal criminal records check; Global watchlist check; country and federal civil records check.
Academic requirements for tutors:
- Minimum GPA of a 3.5
- AP exam score of ? 4
- SAT score ? 1410/1600 (2000/2400)
- ACT score ? 30/36
GoPeer announced that it has closed a $265K seed round of funding from high-profile investors including Deborah Quazzo , Managing Partner at GSV AcceleraTE (located in the San Francisco Bay Area), Slater Technology Fund , Angel Investors from the Launchpad Venture Group , and investment bankers from Morgan Stanley in NYC. The company is a graduate of the Social Enterprise Greenhouse ’s Impact Accelerator program, and a member of both the MassChallenge Rhode Island 2018 accelerator cohort and MassChallenge Boston 2019 accelerator cohort of entrepreneurs.