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Rarely does someone care so much about education that he will postpone his own to make sure younger students don’t fall behind. But as a high school junior, Tanmay Rao decided that was exactly what he was going to do — and no one was going to change his mind.
“I didn’t have to meet with him more than twice before I realized that he was passionate enough about this that if we didn’t find a way to make this work for him, that he was going to go off and do it anyway,” said David Laws, dean of academics at The Lawrenceville School, a private New Jersey high school that Rao attended.
“It” turned out to be Ankhor, an online math tutoring nonprofit that Rao developed and launched during his senior year of high school. In some ways, it was a culmination of five years of tutoring services Rao had run at his local library since he was 13. In other ways, it was just the beginning of his quest to expand education access to students who need it most.
Ankhor (the name is a play on words on “anchor,” combining “ankh,” a Hindi word for “numbers,” with “or,” from “tutor”) is a free online platform that connects elementary and middle school students with high school math tutors, through their schools. Districts sign up and receive an access code so that the Ankhor team can accurately match up schools and students in the same geographic area.
The program has already been used by hundreds of students in 23 schools in four states and Washington, D.C., and Rao hopes to expand to 50 schools by year’s end. The program will be also be spreading to schools in Chicago and Miami this fall.