RAPID CITY, S.D. — School of Mines graduate students Debbie and Kate began exploring the idea of bringing a tutoring program to South Dakota after volunteering themselves for a tutoring program out of New York.
They wanted to fill a gap for families where students didn’t have the resources they needed.
Debbie, who is from Belle Fourche, says she saw the value of this free service.
Debbie Rankin, Co-Founder of StudyDakota, says, “I know the resources really differ around Western South Dakota of what students have access to, and so we wanted to make it accessible to everyone West River.”
The program hopes to open up opportunities for students who were struggling to learn.
Kate Dickinson, Co-Founder of StudyDakota, says, “Well, especially with the pandemic, we saw some of the educational inequalities; especially in Rapid City a lot of the resources people had for tutoring was for-profit and there is not a lot of free resources, which could bar people from having those sort of chances of get the academic support they needed.”
Right now the main focus is on middle school students and older.
The hour sessions run for four weeks at a time. Students upload homework ahead of time and join a Zoom meeting with breakout rooms for individual students and tutors.
Currently, StudyDakota has 29 volunteer tutors who are either Mines students or Mines alumni. The program can manage from 40 to 60 students, with some tutors teaching more than one student at a time.
And with no more on-site volunteer opportunities, this is a great way for students and alumni to volunteer.
Kelsey Gilcrease, SDSM&T Instructor in the Department of Chemistry, Biology and Health Sciences, says, “Our students are really highly trained in math, science, biology and chemistry so I think we have the basis covered pretty good and what a great way for them to give back to the community.”
StudyDakota plans to be an endless service that the school will offer with volunteer tutors available.
Any student West River student who has good internet access and is in need to tutoring services is encouraged to sign up.