UPchieve - Our Story

The best ideas come from solving your own problems. Aly's problem was this: as a recent college graduate with a full-time job, she didn't have time in her schedule to volunteer and give back to her community, a practice she had kept and valued all of her life. While in college, Aly worked as an online tutor for community college students, working late-night shifts to accommodate individuals with children, full-time jobs, or those who simply could not attend tutoring sessions during regular hours.

After graduating, Aly started researching volunteer opportunities in New York City. She thought about tutoring high school students, but she couldn't leave her job in time to make it to the sessions. As she continued her research, she noticed that there were not as many virtual volunteer opportunities as she would have liked. With this realization came another: if she was having this problem, surely there existed a constituency of recent college graduates, eager to make a difference but with limited time due to their newly acquired full-time jobs, who sought similar flexible volunteer opportunities. Why not create one?

Aly approached Katie, her best friend from college, and told her about her new idea. The year before, Katie had founded her own non-profit, AsylumConnect, which is creating the first online, centralized resource database for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. Having gone through the process already, Katie was the perfect person to consult on how to bring the idea to fruition.

After a few brainstorming sessions, Aly and Katie decided on the concept of UPchieve, a free, online and on-demand tutoring platform for high school students in the U.S. that offers math tutoring and college counseling services, with a goal to expand to include tutoring in other subjects as well as a mentorship program.

With a mission of helping disadvantaged youth receive equal access to educational opportunities, UPchieve serves as a connector between volunteers and students. Volunteers are compelled by the flexible hours and virtual component, and students can receive tutoring and college counseling for free.  UPchieve promotes the idea that every student deserves the resources they need to succeed, and its purpose is to move closer to a world in which there is no achievement gap.


Progress to date:

Since starting in late 2016, UPchieve has incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Delaware and grown to include 30 team members, including 14 unpaid staff members and 16 volunteers who work with students. As an online initiative, many members have full-time jobs and the team is spread out across the country.

UPchieve secured fiscal sponsorship from The Social Good Fund in early 2017, an organization that sponsors projects that positively impact and develop local communities. UPchieve also established a partnership with Urban Upbound, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide residents of four public housing neighborhoods in New York City with the tools and resources needed to achieve economic mobility and self-sufficiency.


Next steps:

In addition to launching our new web app, we are also working on developing a mobile app. Students who do not have access to computers at home will instead be able to use their smartphone to get help with homework or college applications. As for volunteers, they will be able to receive alerts on their phones and be notified when students need help instead of signing up for shifts, making it even easier for UPchieve to recruit volunteers.


Want to get involved?

Michelle Vogt