Harvey Mudd College’s Homework Hotline, a free over-the-phone tutoring service for K-12 students, has become a permanent program of the College, assuring that local and regional students will have access to free, quality math and science tutoring for years to come.
Homework Hotline (1.877.827.5462) is open Monday through Thursday from 6–9 p.m. PT during the academic year.
Founded in 2010, Homework Hotline has averaged 3,000 calls per academic year. Most calls to the hotline come from students in junior high and high school, with over 60 percent of callers requesting help in trigonometry, geometry or algebra. The program primarily serves the Greater Los Angeles area but is open to all students who have math or science homework questions.
Homework Hotline is staffed by high-achieving student tutors from Harvey Mudd College, one of the nation’s top undergraduate colleges specializing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Hotline student tutors receive training to effectively communicate with callers, are equipped with books and materials from local school districts and have a Dropbox link so callers can upload materials if necessary.
During spring 2020, when students across the country moved to online instruction in response to the pandemic, Homework Hotline extended its hours to further serve the community. Harvey Mudd tutors, who had also moved to online learning, staffed the hotline remotely from their homes in 12 states.
Harvey Mudd’s Homework Hotline was conceived in 2010 by Harvey Mudd president Maria Klawe, after she visited the successful Homework Hotline created at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT). RHIT shared its system with Harvey Mudd, provided technical advice for its implementation and continues to be a valued collaborator.
“The magic in that room with students tutoring local kids in all kinds of topics of math and science, the energy and good-spirited helpfulness—I knew we could bring that to Harvey Mudd and serve our region,” said Klawe.
For 13 years, the College provided Homework Hotline’s service to the community thanks to private donations. Now, recognizing the invaluable resource the hotline provides to the community and region, the College has made the program a permanent part of its overall operating budget moving forward.
“It’s very important when we have a presence in the community to know that we’re there for the long term,” said Homework Hotline Director Gabriela Gamiz. “One of the biggest questions I hear from our school districts is, ‘how long is this program going to be in place?’”
“The service means so much to the surrounding schools,” Gamiz said. “Funding the program permanently is the College’s way of demonstrating its importance. Homework Hotline is part of our fabric, it’s part of our culture, it’s part of what we believe in. We want to keep on sharing the amazing passion and talent that Harvey Mudd students have for math and science with the wider community.
Harvey Mudd’s student volunteers also benefit from tutoring younger students in subjects that are the foundational blocks of their own studies in math- and science-related fields, strengthening their knowledge of basic concepts and helping them develop critical communication skills. When an elementary, middle- or high-school student calls the hotline with a question, a Harvey Mudd student tutor helps them with one problem and then encourages the student to try the rest on their own. Students are welcome to call back as many times as they like.
“Homework Hotline being permanently funded is great news for the College, the students, and the community,” said Diana Lin ’22, who has tutored with the hotline all four years she has been at Harvey Mudd.
“Serving the community is important for me. As a student in college, I value being able to give back and help others now that I have that knowledge and expertise to do so. Not everyone is fortunate enough to afford tutors and this hotline is way to reach that community and bridge the gap. Everyone should be able to receive educational assistance no matter their situation,” Lin said.
“I am super grateful that homework hotline was permanently funded, said hotline tutor Caitlin Huang ’22.
“Many of these students call because it is the only resource they have access to outside of school. Students will sometimes get discouraged and give up if they are struggling and can’t find help. With Homework Hotline as a resource, students know that they are not alone and can call at their convenience. Providing free tutoring is not only rewarding to the tutors, but also continues to foster learning within the community,” Huang said.
Many K-12 education leaders and student advocates in Southern California also view the program as a vital service, including Anthony Quan, STEM coordinator at the LA County Office of Education, who has been an advocate and promoter of the hotline with teachers in the LA area.
“Homework Hotline is a great resource that connects community to schools, college to kids, and imagination to inspiration,” said Quan. “Harvey Mudd’s Homework Hotline is an exemplary project that impacts a student’s life.”
“I am thrilled that Harvey Mudd has permanently funded Homework Hotline” said Klawe. “This means the College can continue to bring homework support to heavily impacted school districts and expand its outreach to even more students to help them achieve success in math and science.”