17-year-old Bianca Jortner is a high school senior from Easton, Connecticut, and says she witnessed firsthand how education was negatively impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for underserved students.
Launching Youth Promise in June 2020, Bianca offers students around the globe individual tutoring, group classes and college/test prep workshops. Thus far, more than 400 Youth Promise student volunteers around the world have taught over 1,000 lessons to hundreds of students from countries including Kenya, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Bianca is offering educational stability to children during this unprecedented time, helping kids reach their full potential through service.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I’m so privileged with the resources I have. I want to use my voice and resources to empower others and be the voice for those that are silenced.
Describe your volunteerism with Youth Promise.
The pandemic harmed education, especially for youth who didn’t have access to technology or adequate education in the first place. I manage YP’s volunteers and outreach to shelters, schools, orphanages and other community organizations. I also work on communications, social media and with the public relations team. We fundraise around events including a recent holiday toy gift drive. Youth Promise opened the door for my volunteerism with other causes that are close to my heart, including: U.S. Youth, Peace and Security Coalition, CT Students For a Dream and Peace Direct.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
The parent of a student wrote me an email explaining how YP’s tutoring helped her son perform better in all his classes. The boy also understood his emotions more, and was able to control them more and become healthier. Through personalized academic mentorship, we see the impact of our efforts and how we can empower children.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
It’s essential we give back to our communities as well as the world. It’s our responsibility to give back to create a better future and impact lives in order to create a better generation.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your service?
Volunteerism and receiving feedback is the greatest satisfaction. It’s so rewarding to see how youth benefit from academic mentorship they otherwise wouldn’t receive, because I’m helping people out of the sheer drive to help others. And I think that’s the best gift in life.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
What do you want people to learn from your story?
If you have a passion, follow it. You can do anything with that passion. Your mission and drive is larger than the fear of failure. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you, let your passion for the mission drive you.
When you’re not busy volunteering or in school, what do you do for fun?
I love to write, read, and do other projects including activism. I also hang out with family and friends.
How can readers help?
We’re always looking for volunteers and to get more people involved. Please visit our website for more information about how you can help.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Bianca Jortner? Find local volunteer opportunities.