Pathways to Education is a Canadian non-profit providing academic support to youth in low-income neighbourhoods. The organization's largest program in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood has over 800 students and over 100 volunteers.
Four nights a week, volunteer tutors help students in subjects ranging from English to Physics. Each tutor volunteers one night per week and can cover a number of subjects. Based on this information, program coordinators schedule tutors to nights such that 1) tutors' availabilities are respected, 2) a sufficient number of tutors are present each night, and 3) the different subjects are covered. It was an arduous task. Manually coming up with a schedule took a great deal of effort and often several days of work.
A web application that allows Pathways staff to input volunteer data, specify demands, and with the click of a button, get the optimal schedule within 30 seconds. The interface allows staff to make changes to the schedule and see immediately how their changes affect subject coverage.
The scheduling problem is modelled mathematically as a mixed-integer programming problem.
Plank has helped us run our program more effectively and efficiently, saving us on average 30 hours every semester — time that we now use to enhance our services and engage with our volunteers and students!
— Kim Outten, Volunteer Manager