North Side tutoring program helps youngsters boost grades

SHARE North Side tutoring program helps youngsters boost grades

Roberto Sanchez, 11, (right) and his tutor, David Work.Supplied photo.

Roberto Sanchez used to get C’s in math.

Now, the 11-year-old gets A’s because of a North Side-based tutoring program — Inspired Youth Tutoring.

“I used to have a lot of problems with math, but tutoring helped me a lot,” Roberto said.

Roberto has been tutored for the last year by David Work, a volunteer who also helps two other youths.

Inspired Youth, which started in 2004, works with youngsters in the Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park areas.

Tutors help with homework, as well as help students improve their reading and writing skills.

The program currently serves about 90 elementary and high school students.

“We provide encouragement and the world view that education is important, and studying and learning is important. It really takes hold and changes lives,” said Beth Palmer, director of the Inspired Youth program.

“We can see big differences in a year, but then we have to wait to see how they are in their 20s. How are they doing?  Education is very important to them, and they are doing really well.”

Even some former students return with their children to get tutored, Palmer said.

Roberto added that students like the program because their grades improve.

“Even when they’re sick they still come,” Roberto said.

Roberto said his tutor also has helped improve his confidence.

“I’ve been with other tutors, but I like David a lot,” Roberto said. “I feel pretty confident around him. He has patience. When you can’t learn something and don’t know how to do it, he stays calm.”

Roberto is a “bright, curious and appreciative student,” said Work, a recent graduate of Illinois Institute of Technology.

“I find [the Roberto and other students] continually amazing with their insightful questions and observations.”

Tutoring is held in the Bezazian Branch Library at 1226 W. Ainslie on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and at Margate Park Field House, 4921 N. Marine Drive every other Saturday.

The program is looking for tutors to volunteer.

Anyone interested in becoming a tutor can email Palmer at or fill out the application online at

This is one in a series of articles being produced though a partnership between the Chicago Sun-Times and the Illinois Mentoring Partnership.

Megan Kramer, the author of the story, is a Northwestern University student.

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