Student Teachers Enriching Proficiency through Service (S.T.E.P.S.)

STEPS 501(c)3 provides a tutoring/advising platform and donates 100% of the proceeds to improve STEM education for underprivileged youth.

Photo of Sanketh Andhavarapu
19 35

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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Not enough is being done to ensure that underprivileged students have the resources, knowledge, and skills to take part in the technology industry that is our nation’s future. Many current outreach programs struggle in finding up-to-date technology and donations to support their curriculums and for students to keep. Solving this problem is important for inspiring the next generation of students/leaders and promote equal access to opportunity.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Education has become a very profitable industry when targeted towards those who can afford it, leading to structured and bureaucratic organizations that fail to cater to each student’s needs. STEPS challenges this by offering a personalized tutoring and college advising platform that follows the motto “Students don’t adapt to us, we adapt to the student.” With a free consultation and a curriculum that is constantly modified by a curriculum development team, STEPS caters to each individual student at their own pace. STEPS is driven by a volunteer force, so all profits go towards improving the educational experience of students who don’t have regular access to up-to-date technology. STEPS has emerged as another alternative for families to go to, and given our unique approach to tutoring, it will continue to grow quickly as a business. We hope to translate this huge growth potential of the education market into a positive impact on underprivileged communities to ultimately solve the problem of lack of access to up-to-date technology in the educational environment through partnerships with existing outreach programs and schools that serve underprivileged communities.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

It was tough teaching the students at the inner-city Baltimore outreach; the kids were simply not excited to learn about STEM with the resources we bought. I still remember the deviser of ruckus: “What’s your name?” “Hot-Sauce-On-My-Chicken!” I couldn’t even learn each child’s name— how would I ever teach them STEM? I was concurrently conducting a private small-scale tutoring business for pocket money, and with extra money on hand, I bought a fascinating snap circuit kit. This kit finally inspired them to learn about STEM. I finally connected with Hot-Sauce-On-My-Chicken and learned his real name, Brandon! I came to learn that finding donations and enough money for these outreaches was often difficult, so I discussed with the organization about bringing in new STEM equipment to supplement outreach lessons. It was ultimately Hot-Sauce-On-My-Chicken who inspired me to found STEPS.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

In Oct. 2018, the parents of two kids reached out to us for English tutoring. After our standard free consultation, they were convinced that STEPS was their best option. They felt their children would benefit from our peer-to-peer approach, adaptable curriculums, and the long-term student-to-tutor relationship. We proceeded by pairing the students with a tutor from our volunteer network. With weekly tutoring, the students’ English grades and state exam scores significantly improved. As a result of our success with this family, our clientele expanded due to references. STEPS received $1400 from this tutoring, which went towards buying a drone to be paired up with Scratch and 2 Mindstorm Kits to supplement STEM outreach sessions in inner-city Baltimore. This equipment inspired and educated over 60 students from low-income communities about the power of STEM in the real world.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

STEPS challenges the profit-seeking bureaucratic structure of the education industry by donating 100% of profits in the form of resources to benefit STEM education initiatives for low-income communities! STEPS addresses flaws in existing companies by fostering a long-term 1:1 student to student relationship and developing personalized curriculums that move at each student’s pace. Our business model takes advantage of the huge growth potential in the education market to make a direct impact on education in underprivileged communities.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

STEPS has thus far relied solely on word-of-mouth marketing. Nevertheless, S.T.E.P.S. has to date tutored 10 students (5 still with us). Our tutor/advisor network has 21 students. From our services, we have raised $3000, and we are projected for over $12,000 over the next 12 months. Based on parent testimonials, we believe in the quality of our services and predict significant growth over the next few years. Students have also experienced improvements after STEPS. The $3000 we raised was used to buy technology that enhanced the STEM learning experience at outreaches for inner-city Baltimore students. The technology included drones and Mindstorm Robotics kits that were paired up with Scratch and snap circuit kits. In partnership with TeCanal, the resources we provided have been shared by over 60 students from low-income families who would otherwise not have access to these resources.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

With our anticipated marketing initiatives Youtube channel to expand our presence, we hope to expand S.T.E.P.S. from being a regional service to a national one. Our business model is simple enough to be replicated in other states, which will boost the money we raise. By accomplishing this, we can continue to scale our impact on education in underprivileged communities. We also plan to develop a free college advising program that connects the same communities we target with our network of volunteer college advisors to increase acceptance and attendance of underrepresented students to college. Finally, we hope to start the Steps to Success Scholarship foundation to support ambitious underprivileged students during their college endeavors.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Brand Development

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Donations between $100-$1k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others
  • Word of mouth

Evaluation results

62 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 76.3%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 18.6%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 3.4%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 1.7%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 89.8%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 6.8%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 3.4%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 88.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 8.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 3.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 15.1%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 3.8%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 1.9%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 87.1%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 9.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 3.2%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

Attachments (1)

S.T.E.P.S. FLIER.pdf

Attached is our flier that we use for advertisement. The flier describes our tutoring and college advising services while also describing our nonprofit mission.


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Photo of Akhila Sakalabhaktula

Congratulations Sanketh. It’s really great.

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