Saga Education is now an Edtech Nonprofit. Here’s why. — Saga Education

August 27, 2021

CEO, Alan Safran, and Chief Product Officer, Krista Marks, were speakers at the 2021 annual ASU+GSV Summit in San Diego 2021. 1) Watch Alan’s session about scaling high dosage tutoring. 2) Watch Krista’s session on educational equity.

Over the last 7 years, together we have shown what is possible with high-dose, in-school tutoring. Moreover, we have shown that for historically underrepresented youth, high-school is not too late. In rigorous studies the effect size of Saga’s program is so large that it is on par with the dramatic effect size when preschool is provided as part of a K-12 education.

There are 55 million students in the U.S. 9 million of those students are living below the poverty line. As a nation, if we provided high-dose in school tutoring for both 3rd grade (literacy) and 9th grade (math), we would need to serve 3 of the 9 million. This would roughly cost $3B per year, a 0.04% increase to what the U.S. currently spends on education. In other words, not much.

Today Saga is serving 8,000 youth of the 1.5 million ninth graders who live below the poverty line. The urgency is clear. We need to create tools, systems and solutions that enable our nation to reach more of these students faster.

Saga’s partnership with Woot Math began two years ago. Both organizations had been funded by the Gates program for middle years math. The partnership began when Woot Math created an online platform for tutoring that we needed for a joint study with the College Board.

After the study, the College Board wrote, “We continue to be impressed by the Woot Math online tutoring platform – it far outpaces what we have seen in the market and has continued to add functionality to ensure that the student-tutor interaction is improved by taking place online, rather than hampered by it.”

We agreed. Through the partnership with Woot Math, the potential for technology to accelerate our goals was clear.

In 2020, the pandemic created a severe urgency to rapidly expand and operationalize our online tutoring operations. With funding from the Gates foundation, Woot Math shifted its entire focus to supporting this effort. After several months of this engagement and also exploring the opportunity presented by a potential merger, we were able to merge the two organizations with further funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others.

October 1, 2020, Saga’s Product and IT Division was born. Since that time this group has remained head- down and focused on 3 main fronts:

Saga Connect, a one-stop platform for Fellows and Scholars, a place where they can access materials and models, schedule sessions, communicate asynchronously, view progress, and when tutoring online, work collaboratively. To date, over 220,000 tutoring sessions have been hosted on Saga Connect. While this is an ongoing effort, much progress has been made this summer. See a demo, here.

Saga Coach, a free online learning platform for basic tutor training. We wanted to help other organizations and school districts get the benefit of Saga’s expertise in training non-education specialists to become effective tutors. We are encouraged to see both large and small organizations adopt this as a resource. See a demo, here, or sign up and give it a spin, here.

“Saga Coach is exactly the professional development our tutors need. Both the format and content are a great fit for Boys & Girls Clubs, and I’m excited to recommend the training materials to staff and volunteers who want to become more effective tutors.”
– Chrissy Chen, Sr Dir. of Youth Programs, Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Saga Learn, a multi-media, multiplayer online world that aims to transform how we serve students when they are participating in an independent online learning system. This is a bold 3-year initiative that will strengthen Saga’s blended learning programs and also serve classrooms and tutoring programs more broadly.

We fundamentally believe the lever-arm of technology can help make tutoring more affordable, more accessible, and more scalable. In the end, that is the heart of why Saga decided to become an education technology nonprofit – a company that delivers on the promise of personalized learning that transforms our educational system.