A group of five UCC students has created Peer4Peer, a free, interactive, online peer-tutoring platform helping navigate the world of school in a pandemic-disrupted world.
“My brother, Krishna, and I started a student podcast in March about the impact of COVID-19 on education,” says Karam Bambawale, Year 12, one of the startup’s founders. “We noticed that we were lucky to have regular online classes, while some of our friends weren’t as fortunate.”
They teamed up with two friends, Drake Belanger-Polak and Bill Chan, both in Year 12, and Jefferson Ding, Year 10, and launched Peer4Peer to match student tutors and learners, along with mentorship opportunities.
“We created a business that serves to unite students and empower youth,” says Krishna Bambawale. “We do that through our platform’s offerings of peer tutoring and mentorship, as well as specialized classes. Our mission is to ensure equity in learning and promote virtual companionship, one peer at a time, because not being able to participate in the social side of life is incredibly isolating for teens.”
Ding speedily brought the online tutoring model to life with his coding skills, building the entire platform in about a week. The site allows students to seek long-term assistance for their courses or short-term aid when they’re studying for assessments or find themselves stuck on a homework problem. The tutors are vetted by committee, and tutoring takes place one-on-one or in small groups of up to five students.
Since its launch in June, the Peer4Peer team has expanded to more than 20 students, and there are 50 tutors on the roster. With more than 140 active users, it’s anticipated that demand will only increase with the new academic year. The founders have been in touch with numerous schools across the Greater Toronto Area and hope to reach out to both public and independent schools across Canada and, ultimately, worldwide. They’re also working with Havergal College students to create a middle-school offshoot called Study Buddies.
“Our goal is to create a self-sustaining platform to continue to assist students throughout the school year,” says Ding.
Adds Krishna Bambawale, “No matter how peoples’ school year varies, it is human tendency to look for some element of consistency and normalcy. And we want that to be Peer4Peer. Offering support at a time when so many of us need it, the value of this platform can only grow.”