The old idiom about one door closing and another opening certainly applies to Lakeside High School grad and current Vanderbilt University senior Nathan Guzman.
Guzman’s summer internship was lost to the pandemic, but his passion for justice reform and helping others led to the creation of VolunTeach – an online tutoring service where students make donations to nonprofits instead of paying instructors.
In a matter of months, VolunTeach already has 25 tutors who have helped more than a dozen students while raising hundreds of dollars, Guzman said. At $25 per hour, it’s a competitive rate and the students using the service get to support a favorite charity.
Guzman originally conceived of the soon-to-be nonprofit as a way to raise money for the Nashville community bail fund to help low-income arrestees and those detained for protesting against social injustice.
“With my internship cancelled, I knew I’d have a lot of time on my hands, so I planned to do online tutoring,” Guzman recalled. “That’s when the idea hit me to tutor for donations.”
He pitched the idea to friends at Vanderbilt and at home in DeKalb, who also expressed their excitement and interest in becoming tutors. Guzman’s friend and roommate, Nisarg Patil, came up with the name VolunTeach. Another friend, Andrew Crites, helped Guzman set up the website and online procedures for students and tutors, while Alaina Bacante created the organization’s logo and assists with social media.
The tutors offer a variety of knowledge and skill sets and offer assistance for ages kindergarten to adult. Those looking for a tutor don’t even have to be in school, but just looking to learn or expand a skill. Learning the Adobe software suite, guitar lessons, and one-on-one quarterbacking sessions for football players are some of the unique sessions available.
Guzman said customers can feel safe about donating their money, since it goes directly to the nonprofit of their choice rather than being filtered through VolunTeach. Some of the organizations that have received donations are Atlanta Mission, Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort (AWARE), and DonorsChoose.
With school back in session, Guzman said he expects an influx of new students, but VolunTeach is ready to scale up to meet the demand.
For more information or to schedule a tutoring session, visit volunteachtutoring.org.