Teachers aren’t the only ones delivering curriculum to today’s youth; for many students, tutors extend learning opportunities well beyond the school day. GoPeer, a nationwide tutoring service founded in Providence, has expanded dramatically in the past two years. In 2017, GoPeer featured tutors from Brown University, RISD, Bryant, and URI. Today, they have tutors from a large number of colleges and universities, serving students in 48 states. More than 2,000 clients have received tutoring in countless subjects, ranging from staples like algebra and chemistry to more unusual offerings, such as astronomy and oceanography.
Ethan Binder, a Moses Brown alumnus, founded GoPeer with fellow students at Lafayette College and has shepherded the business through this growth. GoPeer uses a “near-peer” model to provide connections to college students who are available to tutor K-12 students in a variety of subjects. While the tutoring services are affordable, they are also reliable: each tutor is screened and vetted, and their youth makes them more easily relatable to their tutees.
More than 3,200 college students who have signed up to be GoPeer tutors aren’t doing it for the money. Some want to give back to the community and provide a helping hand to students who are just a little younger than them. Some savor the opportunity to share a subject for which they are passionate. One of the tutors, Ben, says, “Education is an extremely important factor in socioeconomic mobility, and I want to help students develop the skills that they need in order to pursue higher education.”
In fact, GoPeer boasts a 92 percent satisfaction rating with families. Katya, the parent of a high school student, left the following review: “Really good prices and tutors – our math tutor was basically a genius and helped my 15 year old in the nicest and easiest way possible. Highly recommend!”
Ethan believes that one of the biggest reasons for their growth is the increasing market adoption for online tutoring. Initially, 100 percent of GoPeer’s tutoring sessions were done in-person. However, as the business grew, they found that location was a limiting factor, since the majority of their tutors do not have transportation. More and more, parents and tutors began scheduling lessons online, leading GoPeer to develop an online platform that serves as a digital classroom. Now, close to 70 percent of their revenue is generated through online lessons.
This approach reflects GoPeer’s commitment to meeting the individual needs of their students. As Ethan says, “All students learn differently, and everyone has their own unique needs and learning goals. We have put in place an operationally intensive process to establish trust and improve customer experience. Through careful vetting, interviewing, and training of our tutors, we’re able to have a relatively small supply of tutors who provide high quality services to a large population of clients.”
Recently, GoPeer won first place in the National Blended & Personalized Learning conference shark tank event. GoPeer was also recognized as one of Rhode Island Inno’s 50 on Fire, in the Education and Government category. The GoPeer website includes an active blog featuring posts written by their tutors on a variety of topics.