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State Honoree

Manan Shah

Edison, New Jersey

Manan Shah, 17, of Edison, New Jersey, a senior at John P. Stevens High School, started a nonprofit virtual tutoring service with a friend last April that has recruited more than 350 high school students in 15 chapters to help kids in grades K-8 adapt to online classrooms once their school buildings closed due to COVID-19. When the virus forced his school district to shift to online instruction, “I realized that many students were likely struggling with the sudden change,” said Manan. “For younger students who rely more on interacting with their teachers, this transition must have been especially difficult.” With a track record of community service, Manan knew he could help, so he asked a classmate to join him in launching a nonprofit called “LimitlessMinds.”

The two began promoting their tutoring service on a website and social media, and reached out to school principals in their town to help both recruit students willing to become tutors and identify younger kids who needed their assistance. Manan also asked acquaintances he had met through summer programs and other activities to consider starting LimitlessMinds chapters in their hometowns, and provided them with guidance and a blueprint for implementation. Since he began, Manan’s program has conducted more than 4,000 hours of virtual tutoring for 550 kids in locations as far away as El Salvador and Pakistan. Initially, Manan said he envisioned his project as “a solution to the struggles of virtual school.” But now, “I hope that it will remain a valuable resource to students around the world long after the pandemic subsides.”