On September 4th, Young Leaders of Orange County (YLOC) kickstarted its 8th year in operation in the Buena Park area. This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization provides free weekly tutoring to over 100 elementary and middle school students, with the majority coming from low-income families. All instructors are high school students coming from a wide range of schools: Whitney High School, Oxford Academy, Troy High School, and more. Volunteers meet once a week to provide tutoring and assistance to students in second through seventh grade.
The non-profit serves five different cities: Buena Park, Stanton, Fullerton, La Mirada, and La Palma. While all branches teach their pupils mathematics, every branch possesses unique characteristics that set them apart from one another. For example, the La Palma branch prepares children for the American Math Competition (AMC), using hundreds of practice questions and worksheets from textbooks. The La Mirada branch, in addition to teaching math, provides free music lessons to children, which nurtures the students’ creativity through their hobbies and interests. The Buena Park branch writes math worksheets that are published online weekly for the other four other branches to utilize at their leisure, and the Fullerton branch works with the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention (CalGRIP) Program to reach out to more families. Lastly, the Stanton branch is currently preparing to host its annual Halloween party for all tutors and students to enjoy. Regardless of the different events and responsibilities of every branch, in all, the children benefit tremendously from the diligent work of the volunteers.
This month, the Buena Park branch is aiming to implement creative methods to incentivize their 30 energetic students to concentrate on math and study diligently. Students who finish their math worksheets by the end of the tutoring sessions are entered in a weekly raffle, which includes prizes such as toys, snacks, and games. With this raffle, the instructors have increased productivity during the weekly math sessions.
YLOC raises funds through a large variety of student-led fundraisers. For example, an annual garage sale is held at the Buena Park Community Center, where participants bring used math textbooks, clothes, and toys from their elementary school years to sell. At the March 2019 garage sale, the Stanton Branch set up a food booth to feed hungry shoppers and volunteers. In addition to the annual garage sale, the non-profit gains funds through a local partnership with the La Palma and Fullerton HamNam Chai-In Supermarkets, who donate a percentage of their profit back to the volunteers. All funds are used to help YLOC function in the following year.
Young Leaders of Orange County, which first started as a single branch of only 15 tutors, has grown for 7 years, into a large, efficient organization that serves 5 different cities. To ensure that all branches are operating smoothly, the founder of YLOC, Helen Youn, meets with both the high school and parent board members.
High schoolers, in the midst of busy schedules with sports, homework, and extracurricular activities, find themselves understanding the importance of volunteering. Laura Park, co-president of the Buena Park branch states, “Volunteering is more than just another line on your resume; volunteering allows you to surround yourself with those who share the same passion and drive to make the world a better place.” Young Leaders of Orange County is a community-service organization that benefits families who need help the most: low-income students wanting to further their education in any way they can.
Stella Hong, Grade 11
Whitney High School