Growing up as an English language learner in a Chinese immigrant family, Sophia Jiang was often reticent to speak up.
“I found it difficult to reach out in order to get the help I needed,” said Jiang, 16, a rising junior at Bergen County Academies, a magnet high school in New Jersey.
Her innate shyness prompted her to help students who may have the same issue. During the pandemic shutdown in 2020, Jiang was seeking volunteer opportunities to connect with like-minded students. That’s when she foundOne World Anchor, launched that year by fellow high school student Cindy Lin in California.
From its initial grassroots operation of a handful of Asian American students who wanted to give back to the communities they live in, One World Anchor is now a full-fledged 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing equal education opportunities for all students.
Entirely operated by students, the organization now serves four states: New Jersey, New York, California and Illinois. More than 300 students have volunteered over the past three years, sharing their passions and expertise.
Students are able to access private tutors in myriad subjects from math to coding as well as group lessons for free. One World Anchor operates a YouTube channel with over 2,600 subscribers.
Students who want help are matched with a tutor, Jiang explained. There are no barriers to accessing a tutor or online classes, she said.
Jiang now serves as president of the organization and Lin is about to start college this fall.
The organization also reaches out to underserved and immigrant communities, recently partnering with the Paterson Board of Education, Fort Lee Chinese American Community Association and Fort Lee Korean American Association in New Jersey. Fort Lee is a borough that’s over 40% Asian American, and Paterson is a multiracial city.
Paterson resident Mayelis Guzman Taveras credits the organization with helping her third-grade daughter Lizmariee Martinez.
“I really like how the World Anchor helped my kid,” she said. “They really help her understand everything. She learned how to read the clock, how to understand reading and book.”
One World Anchor serves diverse students in different geographic areas, Jiang said. The student volunteer tutors are mostly Asian American as there’s a large population of Asian American students at Bergen County Academies and her hometown of Fort Lee, Jiang said. But the services and the students that are helped are from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Through word of mouth and social media, One World Anchor has grown exponentially since its founding, expanding courses to include coding and music and providing over 4,000 hours of lessons over the course of three years.
“I’m hoping to spread One World Anchor to more states," Jiang said.
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com