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BranchOut! FAQ

What programs do we offer?

At BranchOut!, mentoring is defined as something much broader - it is not just about tutoring; it is about supporting and helping others grow as not only an individual but a community. Our new projects reflect our definition of “mentoring,” and we look forward to meeting you!

Tutoring/Mentoring: This is our traditional peer-mentoring and tutoring program, where we work with public school systems, community centers, and homeless shelters to not only bridge achievement gaps, but also to help students find confidence and joy in learning. Depending on the location, this can be a summer-only or year-round program. Please note that additional references may be required.

Innovator: Working in teams with programming, curriculum design, and marketing specialties, students will prototype solutions for real-world problems. This may include designing an app, creating a website, or other creative ventures. Students do not need prior coding experience to join. Innovator is a year-round project with work required during the school year.

The Explorer (formerly Teen Stories): If you are interested in writing and journalism, join students from around the world to share their experiences on how they view common issues. We hope to gain a global perspective of these issues by producing 4 issues a year. BranchOut! mentors participating in this program will have the opportunity to inspire and be inspired, empower and be empowered by the courage demonstrated by themselves and other members. This is a year-round program. 

Career Panels: Students with similar interests will work together to plan a career panel for fellow students and adults. They will invite professionals in a field of their choice to discuss career paths, goals, and the future of their professions. This is a great program to enhance your public speaking skills. This is a summer only program.

2023 Program

What is BranchOut!'s calendar year?

BranchOut! runs from September to August, following the school year format. Applicants can apply any time throughout the year and the application is good for one academic year.

Will BranchOut! be virtual, in-person, or hybrid this year?

BranchOut! will offer both in-person and online programs this year unless otherwise noted. 


What are the summer programs being offered this year? 

We currently have 4 summer programs (see above) for mentors to join.

May I switch the weeks I signed up for in case scheduling conflicts occur?

For summer programs, we will send out another form in June to confirm each mentor’s final schedule. Therefore, mentors will have time to make the switch. There is no change after that and any changes can result in losing the deposit. Please note, mentors can add more weeks, but will not be able to shift or reduce the number of weeks/days that they originally signed up for. If it is a health related emergency, then student mentors should submit the doctor’s note to the team to help the team determine the situation. 


Is it possible to spend more time than my committed weeks?

See answer to the above question.


What subjects do tutors teach?

Predominantly STEM, but languages and the arts are also applicable. 


Where is the volunteer location? Who is responsible for the transportation?

Volunteer locations include community centers, high schools, and homeless shelters in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Transportation is not provided.

Can lunch be purchased on the site or has to be self prepared?

Students prepare their own lunch or purchase lunch on site if available. 


What is the daily time schedule for the participating weeks? 

Our in-school program will take place after school. As for our summer program, depending on the specific program, students may be able to choose from a morning shift, an afternoon shift, or an all-day shift each day. Mentors should plan accordingly to ensure they can fully dedicate to each shift for the week(s) they sign up for. 


Outside of tutoring and the student management team, what does the BranchOut program also entail? 

BranchOut! offers a wide range of outreach opportunities and community events in addition to tutoring. For an overview of our program last summer and past events, please view the "2021 programs" and "News & Events" subpages on our website. We also hold an annual end-of-summer celebration event for all BranchOut! mentors to recognize their achievements and recap our work.

Application Related

How many weeks should mentors sign up for? 

All mentors are expected to dedicate at least one week of their summer to the program. However, two weeks are recommended for the optimum experience.


What is the purpose of the $150 earnest deposit? 

Due to the nature of the position, we expect the Student Mentor to take this position seriously by fulfilling the work assigned and showing up to the position on time. As a result, an earnest deposit of $150 is required when the applicant accepts and confirms participation in the Program. If a student has financial hardships or is on FRL status, please contact our team at


How is the earnest deposit refunded? 

The deposit will be refunded (minus any PayPal service fee if any) after the Student Mentor has successfully completed their committed portion of the Program and submitted the deposit return form. In other words, mentors should fully attend all weeks they sign up for. Any absence from any part or whole of the committed period shall cause forfeit of all of the earnest deposit. The deposit refund request form will be sent in August 2022, and all the refund process will be done by late September.  


What does completing the committed portion of the program mean?

Completing the committed portion of the program means fulfilling the specified number of weeks indicated by the mentor. A google form will be sent in June to confirm each mentor’s final schedule. If the mentor does not complete all the weeks they signed up for, the earnest deposit will not be refunded.

Student Management

Do I need to submit both applications to be considered for the Student Management team?

Prospective summer management team applicants should submit the 2022 BranchOut! Application and indicate their management interests there. In addition to applying as a program specific team lead, students may also choose to apply as an officer of one of the 4 functional teams: Operations, Fundraising, Social Media, and Technology.


What does the Student Management team mean? What kind of person can be an ideal candidate to join this team? 

The Student Management team is an overarching leadership team that is responsible for the operations and publicity of BranchOut!. Each team has officers and one to two directors. In general, a leadership candidate should demonstrate strong proactivity, communication, and team skills. 


If you are in the student management team, do you also still tutor? 

Student management team members also tutor. 


I applied to the Student Management team but have not gotten a response. What do I do? 

We will be choosing leadership candidates in June. Final candidates will be invited to present their qualifications during the summer training day. Please continue to check your email for more information on the management team selection process.

Volunteer Hours

Is all time involved in the BranchOut program counted as Student Service Learning (SSL) hours? 

Students will receive service hours based on the program shifts or sessions they sign up for during the summer and/or school year. Hours outside shifts, including management meetings or team building activities, will not be given. 


Who can I contact to verify my SSL hours?

Mentors may list Dr. Yuhsien Wu (email: as their SSL verification contact.


How should I send in my hours if I need them signed digitally?

Please send your hours form in PDF format to, the email subject line should include your name as well as the word “verification” so that it can be classified as an hours request.


How should I group my hours for submission?

Please submit your hours by lump sum if possible once you have finished all of your commitments for BranchOut!. If absolutely necessary, you may split hours up to be approved separately by week. 


When should I submit hours for verification?

You may submit hours as soon as the deposit refund form is sent out in August. Please try to get hours approved as quickly as possible as verification requests will be checked less and less as we move farther from our Summer session.

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