Client: Education Non-Profit Organization, Toronto
Year: 2015

The challenge

One of the organization's largest programs in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood provides academic support to over 800 youth.

A major part of the program involves over 200 volunteer tutors with varying competencies in different subjects, varying preferences regarding student age group, and varying weekly availabilities. Manually producing a schedule to meet the forecast demand had been a significant challenge, often taking up several days of work.

Our solution

We designed a web application that allowed staff to input volunteer data, specify demands, and, with the click of a button, get the optimal schedule within 30 seconds. The interface allowed staff to make changes to the schedule and see immediately how their changes affect subject coverage.

The scheduling problem was modelled mathematically as a mixed-integer programming problem.

Screenshot Tutor Scheduler
  • Checkmark Time savings of ~30 hours per semester. Staff can spend less time on this "back-room" process and more time with the students and volunteers.
  • Checkmark The schedule is better. Students can rely on there being a tutor who can help with their subject no matter which session they attend.
  • Checkmark The UI gives staff an overview of subject-coverage and provides targets for tutor recruiting in subjects that are under-represented.
  • Checkmark Higher volunteer retention, as personal schedules can be more easily accommodated.

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!

— Volunteer Manager