When Mohit Agarwal noticed that students he was tutoring were taking pictures of other students’ textbooks or using unreadable damaged materials because they could not afford to buy them, he decided to find a solution.
It was those tutoring sessions that sparked the Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) senior into action to address the lack of basic study materials for many students in North Minneapolis and the Phillips neighborhood.
His answer: Educaturu, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to address fundamental disparities in educational resources for students.
Educaturu was founded in 2019 with help from connections in the Eden Prairie community that Agarwal built from volunteering as a math tutor for high school and college students. (The name Educaturu has no specific meaning), Agarwal said. He wanted a reference to education but also to avoid duplicating other names.)
Agarwal has leadership experience through his participation in EPHS debate and speech teams. His volunteering and leadership were key to the sustainable growth of the foundation.
The nonprofit has accelerated its operations since its founding to locations in Minnesota and Texas, a team of four directors and 15 volunteers, more than 1,700 volunteer hours, and donating materials through 32 book drives.
Thanks to Educaturu, the University of Minnesota’s physics department switched to free textbooks.
“Since our inception, we have received an outpouring of support from the community,” Agarwal said. “Teachers, students, and legislators all understand the problem and want to help. Within the Twin Cities we have been able to enact meaningful change through university partnerships and have in some cases increased the size and diversity of a school’s library by 50%.”
The nonprofit now has a leadership team, including EPHS students Lucas Wagner and Jash Parekh who serve as directors of advocacy and relations respectively, with Akhil Perla operating from his high school in Texas. Perla, a former EPHS student who moved to Texas his senior year, was determined to continue working with the nonprofit.
Educaturu has secured corporate partnerships with Target, United Health Group and Bank of America and has also partnered with state representatives to raise awareness about legislative changes.
Agarwal said Educaturu is making a difference.
“We do this through a couple of key initiatives,” he said. “The first is through direct donations of books and educational materials to schools and public libraries. The second way we do this is through legislative advocacy; misaligned incentives between administrators and governments are a root cause for much of the underinvestment in materials.”
Educaturu has received donations worth $82,000 in educational materials that have been donated to the Hennepin County Library, North Community High School, Edison Senior High, Loring Nicollet, Wellstone International High and others.
The future of Educaturu is promising, and Agarwal is looking to grow aggressively beyond the two states in which it currently operates.
“We have an upcoming scholarship program that is in the process of raising up to $5,000 for fee waivers for AP exams, the ACT, and SAT as well as donations to larger nonprofits,” he said.
Educaturu plans to continue making positive impacts in the community through book drives, drop boxes and various fundraising mechanisms to enable educational access — one book at a time, Agarwal said.
You can read more about Educaturu on its website here.
Editor’s Note: EPLN contributor Harini Senthilkumar is a senior at Eden Prairie High School. Previously, she was a contributor to the Eden Prairie News since she was 11 years old. She aspires to become an advocate for sustainability through journalism.
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