Program Spotlight: Step Up Tutoring

Step Up Tutoring is a Supporting Champion of the National Partnership for Student Success. In 2024, Step Up Tutoring was selected as an NPSS Community Collaboration Challenge awardee.

Meet Sam Olivieri, CEO of Step Up Tutoring. For more than a decade, Sam has dedicated her professional life to expanding access to opportunity through K-12 education. Since beginning her career as a special education teacher, Sam has made an impact in leadership roles with multiple education organizations, including as Senior Principal at Guild Education, Partner at Entangled Solutions and Chief Strategy Officer with GreatSchools.

Since its founding in 2020, Step Up Tutoring has served more than 3,000 students in under-resourced communities across five California school districts. Tutors meet with 3rd-6th grade students twice per week, during the school day, after school, or at home, providing high-impact one-on-one virtual tutoring and mentorship.

Expanding the Teacher Pipeline through Federal Work-Study.

In addition to the positive role that Step Up Tutoring plays in the lives of young learners, the organization also aims to expand the teacher pipeline in California.

“Step Up’s uniqueness in thinking about a sustainable structure for tutoring, not only to build the efficacy of tutors, but also potentially to translate a young person’s tutoring experience into a career in education is very thoughtful on their part,” said Ann Argo, Coordinator of Tutoring Servces with Los Angeles Unified School District.

“They’re not only thinking about the now, they’re thinking about the next.”

According to Olivieri, more than half of Step Up tutors are interested in pursuing careers in education following college graduation. “We know that gaining this experience as a tutor can help encourage students to more seriously explore that career pathway,” she stated.

As Olivieri sees it though, Step Up’s role in expanding the teacher pipeline goes even further:

“Our Federal Work-Study students are also very diverse. 85% of them identify as students of color, which is important to us—not just because they are more likely to reflect some backgrounds of the students that we serve, but we also know how important it is to build a teaching workforce that is representative of our K-12 population.”

Leveraging Federal Work-Study to Expand Sustainable Tutoring.

Step Up Tutoring recruits a diverse group of tutors, including both adult and college student volunteers, as well as college students paid through Federal Work-Study and Californians for All College Corps.

“What the number-one thing that we see is these are students that are super mission-driven. They’ve all chosen to work with Step Up… and so they all have a connection, some story as to why education is important to them.”

With 98% of Step Up tutors reporting that their top motivation as a tutor is giving back to their community, the organization is actively recruiting individuals who are truly driven by a desire to serve. Additionally, Step Up Tutoring has increased collaboration with the National Partnership for Student Success to capitalize on this passion and expand the sustainable flow of high-impact tutors available through Federal Work-Study.

In March of 2024, Step Up Tutoring co-hosted a webinar with the NPSS Higher Education Coalition to encourage participation from other organizations. Step Up Tutoring is also an NPSS 2024 Community Collaboration Challenge awardee.

(Image resourced by Arizona State University)

Providing High-Impact Tutor Training & Credentialing Resources.

Step Up Tutoring and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, with generous support from Annenberg Learner, have launched a set of high-impact tutor training resources to equip tutors with the knowledge and skills needed to help students learn and succeed. These resources include:

  • 12 nanocourses on the fundamentals of high-impact tutoring.
  • 12 nanocourses on evidence-based practice for elementary math tutoring.

Individual users can visit the program landing page and create an account, while tutoring organizations can request support from the ASU team to create multiple accounts for your tutors at once. 

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