Pomona Students Lead Tutoring Program for Local Elementary Children

Three students pose for a photo on Stover Walk

A year ago, one of the Draper Center’s longest running community partnership program had just one volunteer: Cecilia Ransburg ’25. Tasked with reviving the Learning IN Collaboration (LINC) program following pandemic shutdowns, Ransburg got to work.

“I thought maybe we could get eight student volunteers. We ended up getting 26,” Ransburg says.

This semester, nearly 100 Claremont Colleges students are participating in LINC. Students visit classrooms at two under-resourced elementary schools in the city of Pomona: Barfield Elementary and San Jose Elementary. During school hours, LINC volunteers work with children to develop literacy and math skills and improve their overall performance in school.

Ransburg, an anthropology major, got involved with LINC after volunteering for the Draper Center’s Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), a program that prepares area high school students for college. She says she enjoyed working with high school students but wanted to try working with younger students.

“Since joining LINC, I realized how important early childhood education is,” says Ransburg, “and I wanted to explore these different areas of education and use the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained to have an impact.”

The Draper Center launched LINC 16 years ago under the national program America Reads. Over the years, the program evolved into what it is today, including moving from working with schools in Claremont to schools in the neighboring city of Pomona.

“[The program] shifted to Pomona Unified School District, where there’s a greater need,” says Ransburg.

Aisulu Malik ’25 and Katie Stuart ’25 co-lead the LINC program along with Ransburg. This team of coordinators recruits other students, works on the logistics of getting to the schools, coordinates with district leaders and, of course, spends time in the classroom tutoring. The hard work, they all agree, is well worth it.

Malik, a linguistics major interested in a career in speech language pathology, says she has always loved being around children and LINC has given her an opportunity to be a role model.

“People I’ve looked up to most of my life have been my teachers, and I can point to very specific moments where teachers and mentors have impacted me,” says Malik.

Stuart, a Romance languages and literatures major, aspires to become a teacher. She says being a part of LINC has given her valuable real-world experience in working with children in the classroom.

“I’ve always been interested in education. I love kids,” says Stuart. “Being able to go into local elementary schools and have that hands-on time with the kids was something that I knew I would really enjoy. And being able to fill that need in the community as well was also something that really appealed to me.”

LINC is one of several community-based programs run through the Draper Center. Located on Pomona’s campus, the center is open to students across The Claremont Colleges who want to contribute to the local community.

“The fact that the Draper Center is so well run, is such a wonderful community and has so many different opportunities for those with different interests is really incredible,” says Ransburg. “I can 100 percent say that my Pomona experience would be completely different without it.”