About Us

What We Do

SDRT is headquartered in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego and currently meets virtually on a weekly basis on Tuesday and Thursday late afternoons and evenings. We also facilitate off-campus field trips & extracurricular activities. During COVID-19 we are also supporting our students with their essential needs.
Tutors work 1:1 with students of refugee background to help them with foundational English and math skills. Tutors also spend time reading with our students and playing educational games together. Returning tutors are encouraged to work with the same students for consistency.

Tutors can easily join us and do not need any formal training in education or teaching. However, we do require that you attend a New Tutor Orientation before you begin tutoring. Find out more about our Orientations and how to register HERE.
You could also tutor during the day, independent of our program, as Ibarra Elementary provides opportunities for community members to tutor its students, many of whom are refugees. [PLEASE NOTE: DAYTIME OPPORTUNITIES ARE CURRENTLY ON HOLD DUE TO COVID-19 PROTOCOL.]


San Diego Refugee Tutoring works with students of refugee background from Ibarra Elementary and their siblings (preschool, middle school and high school). Our students have lived in the United States anywhere from one month to eight years. They are Burmese/Karen/Karenni, Burundian, DR Congolese, Somali, Sudanese, Central African, Syrian, and Haitian. Most of our students speak several languages other than English.

How We Got Started

In 2008, SDRT was formed out of a brainstorming session of teachers who saw the unmet needs of a growing refugee population in an eastern City Heights neighborhood of San Diego. Dealing with more than just an educational gap, teachers noticed a wide cultural gap that made it difficult for students of refugee background to keep up with their peers. Most students do not receive any additional instruction outside of school from someone who is fluent in English or assimilated to American culture since they often live in ethnic enclaves.  Additionally, there are extremely limited after-school options for accessible tutoring or extracurricular activities.

When SDRT started, it focused on meeting the needs of the Ibarra Elementary School students (K-5th grade), their siblings, and their parents.  As the parents began getting jobs, learning English and acquiring full schedules, the parents could no longer spend 90 minutes with us.  Now, SDRT focuses mainly on the students and their siblings, who range in age from Pre-K to High School.

Our Volunteers

Volunteers come from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds, careers, cultures, and religions. On any given Tuesday and Thursday, SDRT has volunteers from various high schools, local community colleges and three major universities, local churches, and various friends and families from a plethora of workplaces. This is a unique volunteer opportunity that welcomes entire families to serve together.  There is flexibility with our volunteer commitments ranging from daytime tutoring with an elementary school student to tutoring high school students during the evening.  However, volunteers are asked to commit to attending at least one tutoring session every week. This would be an approximately 8-month commitment, which includes Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring breaks according to the school’s academic calendar. Please REGISTER HERE if you’d like to join us!


Tuesdays and Thursdays late afternoons and evenings at the following times:
Elementary – K to 5th Grade: 4:45 p.m.–6:20 p.m.
Middle & High School – 6th thru 12th Grade: 6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.


Ibarra Elementary School
4877 Orange Avenue
San Diego, CA 92105

During the day, Ibarra Elementary provides opportunities – independent of our program – for community members to tutor its students, many of whom are refugees. [PLEASE NOTE: DAYTIME OPPORTUNITIES ARE CURRENTLY ON HOLD DUE TO COVID-19 PROTOCOL.]