If you were looking for a tutor for your student, Manan Shah’s résumé would rise to the top of your pile. He excels in Advanced Placement and honors classes, has placed first in national math competitions and scored a near-perfect score (1580) on the SAT.
A typical tutor of that caliber might set you back $50 an hour or more. But Manan is no typical tutor. He’s a Scout, and Scouts think differently, solve problems and help other people at all times.
When COVID-19 forced Manan’s high school to move to online education in the spring, Manan made the transition fairly easily. But he knew that younger students would need more individualized attention.
So he recruited some of his smart friends and embarked on a selfless Good Turn.
The Life Scout from Troop 66 of Edison, N.J. (Patriots Path Council), started a free virtual tutoring service to help families in his community. So far, Manan’s team of 250 volunteer tutors has provided more than 900 hours of free tutoring to more than 200 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“We were hoping that we could at least help a few kids,” Manan says. “Never could we have imagined
that we would help as many students as we have to date.”
Alongside co-founder Linda Liu, Manan created the nonprofit LimitlessMinds Inc. Their efforts have gotten noticed on news outlets like NJ.com, which dubbed Manan and Linda “hero high schoolers.”
“Community service has always been a major part of my life, and I knew that many of my peers are academically gifted,” he says. “While it can seem difficult to make a profound impact alone, you may be surprised by how many people are willing to help you and your cause.”
How it works
Tutoring through LimitlessMinds costs nothing. Students get 30 minutes to two hours of tutoring per session. For safety, Manan’s team requires that the student being tutored has a parent next to them the entire time.
As for the tutors themselves, they get no cash for their efforts. But in addition to the satisfaction of helping others, these tutors earn volunteer hours required for various extracurricular organizations. Everyone wins.
(Recommended reading: Can Scouts earn service hours outside the troop setting?)
Why he did it
Scouting is part of the Shah family’s DNA. Manan’s brother is an Eagle Scout, and his dad is a dedicated BSA volunteer.
Manan has been part of Scouting for a decade. He led a troop of more than 100 Scouts as senior patrol leader and served as a den chief for his entire time in Scouts BSA.
“My experiences in these leadership roles gave me the confidence and interpersonal skills needed
to lead this project,” he says.
Speaking of leading projects, Manan was well into planning his Eagle Scout service project when the pandemic hit. Some of his work had to be put on hold.
“I saw LimitlessMinds as another way to give back to my community in the meantime,” he says.
Who has helped
What began as a conversation between friends has grown into an ever-expanding effort to offer free tutoring to families who need it.
It hasn’t been easy. Manan has spent hours on the phone with school administrators, local parents and news reporters. He has answered endless emails and stayed up late recruiting tutors and spreading the word.
“My interactions with various people have not only helped me develop stronger communication skills,” he says, “but also deepened my understanding of different people’s circumstances in life.”
And he hasn’t done it alone. In addition to his co-founder, Manan has been supported by his family, teachers, school officials and the entire community.
“Receiving positive feedback and expressions of gratitude has shown me how valuable LimitlessMinds is to my community,” he says.
The power of the individual
So how can a Scout in your pack, troop or crew make a similar impact? Start by thinking about the beginning, not the end.
If you just look at the result of Manan’s hard work — a network of 250 tutors across 10 chapters, including one international chapter — it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
But Manan’s effort started with two friends brainstorming ways to help others.
From there, it grew organically. And Manan and his team plan to continue the service even after the pandemic subsides.
“If you truly believe in a cause and want to help others, then it is certainly possible,” he says. “LimitlessMinds has taught me that when you put your mind to something, the impact one person can have is limitless.”