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Huiswerkuur (Homework Hour)

Project Overview

Connecting struggling students with volunteer tutors for weekly homework sessions.

Identifying the Problem

By working with schools in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the Netherlands, the IMC Weekendschool is able to identify youth who are highly motivated and driven students, despite the disadvantages they face due to their low socio-economic status. Yet, even though they are passionate about doing well in school, many of these students are hindered by language barriers and a lack of knowledge about what Dutch society has to offer. The IMC Weekendschool provides concrete inspiration for these 10-14-year-old students through a special weekend program.

The IMC Weekendschool has three locations in Amsterdam, and its program invites working professionals to use an interactive approach in sharing their experiences with the students, in order to give them a better understanding of various work opportunities and to inspire the students to work hard to achieve their dreams. However, while this program was a fun and exciting way for the students to learn about different career opportunities, it did not directly address ways to enhance their performance in school. The IMC Weekendschool was looking for a way to provide homework assistance for these struggling students, most of whom were not receiving help on their schoolwork from their families. 

Creating A Solution

Sanne and Umar were contacted by Senior Fellow Michiel de Haas, who had spoken with IMC Weekendschool administrators about their desire to start a weekend tutoring program. Sanne and Umar were excited about the possibility of creating such a program for the students, and decided to work together to implement “Huiswerkuur (Homework Hour).” With the help of Michiel, they began contacting university students around Amsterdam who they thought might be interested in serving as volunteer tutors for the IMC Weekendschool students. After recruiting 25 volunteers, Sanne and Umar teamed up with the IMC Weekendschool and Instituut de Leeuw, a professional homework assistance institute, to conduct a training workshop for the volunteer tutors. 

Sanne and Umar then created a tutoring schedule for each volunteer, which allowed for a weekly 1.5 hour tutoring session with two or three students.  They also organized all the materials for the homework classes, and used Google Docs to allow the volunteers to write weekly reviews of their students’ progress. These progress reports were assessed by the Senior Fellows coordinating the project, and shared with the IMC Weekendschool and the other volunteer tutors. The program was incredibly successful, and after the Senior Fellows ran it for a year and a half, the IMC Weekendschool decided to integrate it into its core program and run the coordination itself.

Lessons Learned

Despite Sanne and Umar having no relevant experience in developing and implementing this type of project, they dove in head first. In retrospect, they wish they had spent more time creating a detailed plan for the project, especially a strong framework that allowed for responsibilities to be more fairly delegated over time. They stress the importance of not taking on too many of the lead roles in a project, especially when there is the possibility that the original project leaders will not be able to remain in that role for the duration of the project. Along that vein, they recommend designing similar projects with the long-term goal of having the project taken over by the host institution, such as happened in this case.

Sanne and Umar also learned the importance of reaching out to those within your network for guidance and support. They could not have carried out this project without the help of several Senior Fellows. Michiel, Cihan TekeliJesse HettemaIsa van Krimpen, and Louis Middelkoop all provided assistance on this project, from helping coordinate the program across the IMC Weekendschool's three locations to providing helpful advice. 

Funding

This project did not require any fundraising. The space and materials for the tutoring sessions were provided by the IMC Weekendschool, free of charge, and there were no travelling expenses incurred by the volunteers. Humanity in Action Netherlands generously provided lunch for the volunteers during their training workshop.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

United-states United States 2009

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