Celebrate Black Nonprofits: Inner City Youth Tutoring

Former teacher Marsha McCleod believes each child deserves a quality education, no matter the circumstances. In 2004, she noticed many students were not receiving the tutoring services they needed, mainly due to financial reasons. Her passion for education and teaching motivated her to open Inner City Youth Tutoring (ICYT), a nonprofit that specializes in serving at-risk K–12 students.

Inner City Youth Tutoring offers one-on-one, hands-on tutoring to students from all over the region at little to no cost. ICYT serves students living at or below federal poverty guidelines, providing them with learning opportunities they could not otherwise afford but need to be able to excel in the classroom.

“Tutoring is just something parents don’t budget for; it’s not something they think about,” says Marsha. In addition, computers and hotspots for internet access are available for use at little or no cost. “Many of our students come from backgrounds in which it would be easy to take the wrong path. Just because you come from a life where there is crime and drugs, does not mean that must be your life too. I want our students to know that life can be different and better than that,” says Marsha. 95% of students who use ICYT attend underserved and under resourced schools.

After assessing each student, Marsha and her team of Educational Enhancement Coaches create academic learning plans that best fit the needs of the individual and attend to various learning styles. ICYT also provides GED instruction and ACT Prep.

ICYT accepts donations  for literature and math assessment items, hands-on materials in the various subject areas, technology, and other supplies such as writing paper, pencils, notebooks, and much more.   Marsha says, “I don’t want people giving me cheap stuff simply because they look at these kids and think they are poor. They deserve to have the same items as everyone else.”

Marsha has noticed that young students who were learning virtually during the pandemic are struggling. “We lost two and a half years of in-person, hands-on education because of COVID. It might be necessary for a student to return to in-person school a grade or two below where they should be,” says Marsha. “We are in a state of crisis when it comes to education. Computers used to be a supplement to a classroom, but now they are the classroom.”

As a Black-led nonprofit, Marsha expresses that they don’t have the same connections and other resources to get the funding they need for their services to remain at little or no cost. “In order to not turn anyone away, we need consistent donors. The St. Louis Community Foundation’s Give STL Day has helped us reach new donors,” says Marsha. Give STL Day is an online day of giving that provides opportunity for nonprofits like Inner City Youth Tutoring to find new donors and reconnect with their existing supporters.

A gift of $3,600 can provide a student with two hours of quality tutoring once a week for the entire school year. The more time EECs have with students, the more successful they are. ICYT’s goal for the 2024-2025 school year is to be able to offer two-hour sessions for 2-3 days a week because extra academic instruction is much needed. To learn more about Inner City Youth Tutoring or make a donation, click here.