As Vice President of Service Projects for his high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, Zachary wanted to provide classmates with service opportunities that mattered. Zachary reached out to a local chapter of the US Dream Academy, an organization that provides mentoring for children in need, particularly students with incarcerated family members. When Zachary learned that the local Dream Academy was significantly understaffed, he founded the Tutoring Outreach Program (T.O.P.), a program to cultivate teen volunteers to run academic clubs and extracurricular activities within the organization. Though the tutoring program began with five volunteers working once a week, Zachary now has 50 teens volunteering five days a week; these teens run 11 different classes and clubs dedicated to high school and college prep, science, art, music, athletics, technology, world cultures, film, and more.
T.O.P. volunteers started a literary magazine with the students, organized a “Healthy Living” field trip to a local farm over the summer, created a 1,500-volume lending library, and even initiated a pen-pal program with children in Uganda. Zachary relishes his role as a motivator and mentor, striving to foster a love of learning in students and a love of service in volunteers. Middle school students participating in the T.O.P. science program saw their grades rise by nearly 20%. As a result of the T.O.P.’s effectiveness in Baltimore, US Dream Academy asked Zachary to replicate his successful model nationwide by setting up T.O.P. chapters across the country.