BRYTE is a student-led organization that pairs Brown undergraduate tutors with students ages 5-18 in refugee families. Currently, BRYTE works with over 170 refugee youth that are resettled from a diverse set of countries, including Iraq, Syria, Colombia,
Nepal, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Burma, Somalia, and others.
Brown undergraduate, graduate, and medical school students serve as the tutors and mentors in the BRYTE program. Around 170 BRYTE volunteers work one-on-one with refugee students in their homes at least three hours per week. Volunteers spend time primarily tutoring (providing homework help and building on foundational literacy skills), but also engage in enrichment activities such as taking their students to visit the zoo, playing soccer at the park, or bringing them up to Brownʼs campus for community events.
Our work is based in relationships—both the tutor and tutee gain so much from this relationship. We do not enter homes to save people or to fix a problem. Listening and empathy are huge parts of our work. We break social barriers through our educational model. Through BRYTE, both our tutees and our tutors come to understand themselves and the world in new and exciting ways, and that growth is important.
We do not wish to simply teach material, but rather to empower our tutees to become scholars and leaders of the world. We work towards giving our students study skills and advocacy skills. Our tutors do not become crutches for our tutees, but rather foster in their tutees the ability to navigate their education and their future independently.
Each volunteer is also paired with one of eight coordinators whom they email weekly with progress reports outlining the various academic and enrichment activities completed with their student. Additionally, coordinators meet individually with volunteers three times a semester to provide them with guidance and resources as well as to receive feedback on the program.
BRYTE volunteers undergo an intensivetraining program to equip them to be proficient tutors. At the beginning of the semester, new volunteers attend an all-day orientation training, while returning volunteers go to a refresher training
to build on their existing skills. Throughout the rest of the semester, all volunteers attend two additional trainings, covering topics such as literacy instruction to the conflict contexts of the refugees’ countries of origin.
In addition to providing ongoing support to refugee youth in Providence through our in-home tutoring model, the trainings also function to spread awareness about immigration related issues in the United States and worldwide. We hope that our tutors will come out of BRYTE more aware of these ongoing issues, and feel inspired to continue making positive social change in whichever path they choose to take after graduating from Brown.
While our model is centered around individual relationships between a tutor and a tutee, we are very intentional about fostering a larger tight knit BRYTE community. Every year, BRYTE volunteers bring their students to several activities and events organized
by the coordinators to bring the community of some 170 tutoring pairs together. These community events have included our annual Fall celebration, Dance Workshops, Spring Talent Show, Science Day, Field Days, and more.
Our community events serve to bring together refugees in Providence who share experiences of resettlement , and also to enable our volunteers to form closer connections with the kids they tutor.
Founded in 2015, BRYTE’s High School Advocacy Board consists of fourteen high school refugee youth—former and current students in the program—who are young leaders in their communities and the city. Among other things, they are tasked to select and train BRYTE’s tutors, host BRYTE community events, and advise BRYTE’s coordinating board. In the past the BRYTE Board has spoken at Brown University about youth leadership and advocacy in Providence and guided BRYTE through a critical year of transition.
Why BRYTE?BRYTE’s unique model fosters long-term relationships and bi-directional learning. BRYTE capitalizes on the skills and position of university students to provide a tremendous service for an underserved population. Our work helps
Providence’s refugee population develop cultural competencecompetency and confidence as well as vital language skills. Refugees gain the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in American society and at the same time, refugee families share their
respective experiences and cultures with Brown students, opening their eyes to realities very different from their own. Additionally, BRYTE provides a unique lens onto the city of Providence and helps students build a connection to the city.
Where and when do volunteers tutor?Volunteers tutor in the refugee families’ homes in Providence. Some tutors prefer to take the tutees to a local library, provided they have parental permission. For enrichment sessions, tutors have taken their tutees to movie theaters, ice skating rinks, local parks, and museums. A volunteer will often go down with a group of volunteers who are assigned to other students in the same family. Volunteers and students arrange tutoring sessions that accommodate each person’s schedule. Tutoring sessions are either twice a week for an hour and a half each, or once for three hours, and they can be scheduled during the week or on weekends.
What is the commitment like?Volunteers must meet with their student for at least 3 hours per week, not including travel time to the student’s home. They must also commit to at least one year of tutoring to build a consistent and supportive relationship. Volunteers must also send in weekly Progress Reports to their BRYTE coordinator to reflect on progress made by both the tutor and the student and consider creative and effective ways to move forward. Volunteers typically go above and beyond these minimum time commitments to do more enrichment activities with the students and to develop a stronger relationship with their tutee.
Do volunteers go through training before they tutor for the first time?Yes. All BRYTE volunteers are required to attend a full day of training and get a background check before they are allowed to begin tutoring. During the training, new volunteers become familiar with the goals and history of BRYTE as well as the responsibilities of being a part of this organization. They also learn about the refugee population in Providence and how refugee resettlement works in the United States. The training reviews safety guidelines and specific considerations for in-home tutoring. In smaller groups, tutors receive training on how to plan tutoring and enrichment sessions, as well as how to teach literacy and math.I want to tutor for BRYTE. When can I start?We accept applications at the beginning of each semester. Email us for more information.