Teen tutors donate to help educate young people around the world

Four students from Long Island, New York donated tutoring income to the Global Business Coalition for Education. They are, from left: Kevin Zhu, 17; Jaylin Man, 16; Dylan Lee, 17; and Darian Pan, 16; with Justin van Fleet, executive director of the organization. (Photo: David L. Marcus)

High school students from suburban New York had a surprise for the Global Business Coalition for Education: They started a tutoring business and raised money to support other young people.

Like any entrepreneur, Kevin Zhu saw a need, then found a way to meet it.

Early in the pandemic, in 2020, Kevin noticed that teens in his Long Island community were bored and disconnected from school. Kevin, then a 9th grader, started tutoring math and science by Zoom – first one classmate at a time, then two, then groups of kids he’d never met.

Kevin saw a second need: Young people struggle to learn the STEM subjects and languages they’ll need to get good jobs. The pandemic exacerbated that problem.

Fast forward three years: Kevin, now 17 and about to start his senior year at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, NY, runs a tutoring company with three classmates. This summer, they agreed to donate 80 percent of their earnings to a nonprofit that’s committed to improving education.

After searching websites, Kevin chose the Global Business Coalition for Business, which works with corporations, youth and other groups around the world to help young learners and refugees.

“I’ve had a passion for teaching since third grade when I gave English lessons to my grandmother, who is from China,” Kevin said in Manhattan this week as he and his fellow tutors visited the Global Business Coalition for Business. They came in from the suburbs to meet Justin van Fleet, executive director of the nonprofit and president of TheirWorld, a global children’s charity dedicated to ending the global education crisis.

Van Fleet explained the organization is raising the profile of the urgency of the global education crisis. He discussed a United Nations report that shows more than 250 million children around the world are not in school for many reasons, including working in factories and fields or taking care of family members.

“We’re so honored by your idealism and generosity,” van Fleet said as he accepted a $1,000 check from the four boys.

During the pandemic, Kevin and his friend Darian Pan, now 16, researched ways to start a tutoring company and build a website. They invited two friends, Jaylin Man, 16, and Dylan Lee, 17, to join their venture, which they named Academix. Drawing on their combined interests, they tutor math, science, English and Spanish. Also, Dylan gives lessons in three musical instruments: piano, double bass and cello.

“Helping kids learn seems natural to me because my mother is a teacher in my school,” Dylan said.

Van Fleet urged the four to apply for his organization’s Global Youth Ambassadors program as soon as they turn 18. It connects and trains dynamic young people who want to improve education.

“I have a feeling we’ll be hearing from all of you in the near future,” van Fleet said.

Kevin’s mother, Wei Cai, immigrated to New York from Shanghai, China before Kevin was born. She accompanied the boys to the city to deliver the check. “I’m pretty impressed by them, too,” she said.

Your employees and your company can give back to education – in your backyard or across the world. Click here to find out more about joining the Global Business Coalition for Education.


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