Patel was inspired to start New American Scholars after witnessing refugee students at her high school struggle with pandemic-related isolation and educational challenges. Patel said she saw too many refugee students falling behind and being setup for failure. With remote learning mostly ending at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the learning challenges have persisted.
“This isn’t something that magically went away once we resumed in-person learning,” Patel said. “This was a seismic event, and seismic events require time to rebuild and relearn.”
What started with Patel offering summer tutoring to 11 students who came from Nepal, Rwanda, Bhutan, and Congo, has grown into a larger and well-connected nonprofit that takes a multi-prong approach to addressing the areas of greatest need.
A more formal summer program now reaches more than 100 refugee students across New Hampshire by partnering with other refugee nonprofits to integrate services and provide quality educational content.
During the school year, volunteer tutors offer year-round individual and small group tutoring in the NAS-(Intensive) program. An after-school reading program supports elementary school students.
The “Study Buddy” program pairs refugee students with a peer tutor where they meet twice a week via a secure online platform where tutors provide help with school-related activities like homework or projects, while also being available to offer social support and mentorship.
“The process of recovery doesn’t stop when the bell rings at the end of each school day,” Patel said. “Our tutors ensure that refugee students are getting the support they need outside of the classroom. Together, we can overcome this once-in-a-generation challenge.”