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Exploring Life & Business with Junhwan (Alex) Jung of Excelerate

Today we’d like to introduce you to Junhwan Jung.

Hi Junhwan, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I started a nonprofit organization, Excelerate Inc., after recognizing the differential access to quality education that many students faced in the United States last year. Given the pandemic, we understand that the issue has only gotten worse, and our explicit purpose is to make a difference in this context.

Offering a free alternative solution to the “private pods” that have cropped up across the nation within high-income neighborhoods, we have created fully online courses taught by our high school volunteers to specifically help students earn better scores in mathematics courses and standardized tests (STAAR). To facilitate their learning, students and volunteers utilize electronic writing pads on which they can show their work and explanations in one-to-one online tutoring sessions.

For a few months since September of last year, we developed our unique processes and our curriculum. By December, we took in three pilot students and were able to successfully test our curriculum and operational processes. After about a month, we opened our services to everyone and reached out to parents of local middle schools. Since then, we have seen over hundreds of students apply, not just limited to Texas, and expanded our tutor team to over forty volunteers. However, this is only the beginning, and we will be more aggressively expanding and growing our team over the next few months.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A struggle was gaining the trust of parents to have their kids take our courses. Obviously, to parents hearing about us for the first time, this is a genuine concern as we are, after all, only high school students with no college degrees yet. To combat this concern, we have a team of college graduates and even an active professional in the education field to get our materials approved for use and get any advice. Moreover, we make sure to train our volunteers after vetting them for academic proficiency, and we do our best to provide the parents with as much information as possible regarding our qualified volunteers.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Excelerate?
Excelerate Inc. is a nonprofit organization formed by a team of high school students and college graduates to make a quality math education more accessible to those who need it. When a student enrolls in our program, they are matched to a highly qualified and trained high school volunteer who will tutor the student over the course of seven to ten weeks. Since our creation, we’ve helped over fifty students across the nation and recruited a team of over forty volunteers.

What sets us apart from other comparable nonprofits is the use of our own original curriculum, crafted to match Texas state standards and designed to maximize student growth in both standardized tests like the STAAR and school grades. Of course, one size does not fit all. Our courses adapt to individual students’ needs based on a diagnostic test taken at the start of the program. Moreover, our courses take place in a virtual setting in which both tutors and students utilize electronic writing pads and innovative software. This allows for a more interactive study environment than traditional online learning methods as well as gets rid of any timing and transportation barriers for students. Finally, following our mission, our course is completely free for over twenty hours of one-on-one tutoring sessions, the custom curriculum, formal analysis reports of student growth, and much more.

One of the most common questions we get is about the level of students who take our course. Our course is open to any middle school students, no matter course level. For students who are struggling in class or want to maintain their current grades, our volunteers can help provide a better understanding of fundamentals as well as incorporate your current school curriculum into ours. On the other hand, students who want to get ahead of their peers in school can be placed in a higher Excelerate course level. Our courses will adapt to what you and your child are looking for.

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