July 24, 2020 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Haarika Kalahasti; Edited by Pallavi Vemuri
Although COVID-19 has negatively impacted many small businesses, individuals have begun to step up to promote change in the community. Another organization that emerged due to the outbreak of the pandemic is the Covid NineTEEN Project.
The Covid NineTEEN Project is an organization that provides free activities and tutoring for elementary school students (Grades 1-5) to keep children engaged and active. Started as a direct response to the boredom children across the globe were facing, The Covid NineTEEN Project created an outlet for students to connect with other community members and fuel their intrinsic motivation to learn and explore their passions. The non-profit was founded by Sarah Shapiro and Skye Loventhal, two rising high school seniors from Los Angeles who are passionate about social change and education. Both co-founders are daughters of educators, which inspired them to step up to solve the specific struggles both inside and outside the classroom.
Immediately after the pandemic became global in April, the co-founders began planning the specifics of their programs and reaching out to friends to be a part of the project. On May 11th, they officially launched the program and opened the first activities and tutoring sessions to the public. The lessons and classes are conducted through Zoom, which makes it accessible to everyone everywhere! Danielle, the Co-Head of the Outreach Committee, says that, "The Covid NineTEEN Project has students from 9 countries, including USA, Mexico, India, etc." It's very impressive how they were able to develop an idea into something impactful in their community with a broad reach. The organization currently offers over 200 activities, taught by student mentors, per week with events running from 9 AM to 5 PM PST every day. A few of their most popular sessions include the Tik Tok dance class, Step by Step Drawing, Cooking classes, Zumba, and Little Astronauts. On top of the vast amount offered, the Covid NineTEEN Project provides free tutoring services for fourteen different languages, such as Spanish, Russian, Korean, and more, that work on a student-need basis. The large group of driven teenagers conduct classes every day and have, without a doubt, used their valuable time to make a difference in the world.
The accessible website makes it effortless to see the class schedule for the week and a short description of each class. To sign up, you must click the signup button on the Activities tab and scroll down on the tutoring tab and register for the sessions through google forms. The Covid NineTEEN Project recommends that you sign up the night before the class so that the event leader can contact you two hours before with the link to the session.
The organization has over 200 committed student mentors and tutors and is currently seeking to grasp more volunteers due to the high demand for the remarkable initiative. Teenage students interested in becoming mentors or tutors must fill out the application first (currently open for tutors in the volunteer tab). When accepted into the project, they must undergo a brief training and orientation session.
The phenomenal team has worked effortlessly to put out activities to keep children engaged continuously! When asked how it was for the co-founders to start the non-profit, Sarah Shapiro said, "Starting an organization with my best friend has been the most incredible experience. We both care deeply about the values and goals of this program, so being able to create something like this with someone who means so much to me is beyond amazing. This transformative experience has completely changed both of our lives for the better”. Skye Loventhal, the other half of the project, said, "Being able to work on something I am so passionate about with my best friend has been such an amazing experience and has truly helped me grow as a person. It feels incredible to know that something I created has helped so many people." Certainly, they've made an immense impact on their community and the lives of children worldwide. According to Danielle, the Co-Head of the Outreach Committee, they currently serve over 500 children worldwide. Just in the three months of the project's launch, they've managed to make such an immense impact and have gained a large market. In addition, their hard work paid off and was heard to the country, as The Covid NineTEEN Project was featured in several news networks, such as Good Morning America and KTLA.
When asked for advice they'd give to aspiring teen entrepreneurs or business owners, Skye said, "My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs would be to believe in your project's mission. Don't be afraid to reach out to people and know the worth of your project when you do because that will influence the way others believe in your project and truly help you create something amazing." Her aspirational advice to network and do what needs to be done is truly inspiring, and a tool that most successful entrepreneurs follow! Sarah's powerful advice to young entrepreneurs is "to focus on what they are passionate about and if they do so, they will be able to achieve anything they set their mind to. Many individuals will tell them that they won't be able to achieve their goals, but as long as they stay determined and motivated, they can create the organization or business of their dreams." These words of wisdom are incredibly beneficial to those aspiring to start a business of their own--it's important to network, focus on your goal, and persevere!
The Covid NineTEEN Project has made plans to continue its activities until the end of the year and is considering running the weekly events as long as students remain at home. If school opens in parts of the country, some students may not want to participate in as many free activities that the Covid NineTEEN project offers, as they won't have as much free time. Danielle says, "We really want to continue the project until the end of [our] senior year and throughout quarantine. It just depends on the kids and whether they're doing online learning or going back to school."
The Bizz USA recommends checking out, signing up for activities, and signing up to be a mentor at Covid NineTEEN Project! With an admirable and kind-hearted mission to help fulfill the time of countless elementary school students worldwide, Covid NineTEEN project has touched the lives of many children thus far and holds a plethora of accessible and student-led classes weekly. The hard-working co-founders, board, and student volunteers have expanded this project so large and are still seeking to touch the lives of more children. Thank you for making a change in the world!
Please check out the Covid NineTEEN Project!