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Teenager Earns Jefferson Award With Worldwide Homework Help Program

DANVILLE (KPIX 5) - High school students around the world are getting homework help from honor students here in the Bay Area thanks to a program created by an East Bay teenager. He's this week's Jefferson Award winner.

Every evening, after he finishes his own studies, 16-year-old Neil Gupta makes a difference across the globe without leaving his Danville home.

"I learned I could help a lot of people," he said simply.

The Monte Vista High School junior developed Teen Mesh, a website where teenagers can get answers to their homework questions from other students worldwide.

Gupta came up with the idea for Teen Mesh in 2012. He and his family had just returned home to Danville. They'd spent the last two years in living in India where his father was on business. While in India, Gupta tutored children from the slums.

"Students from the International School would teach kids from slums English and math in a peer-to-peer way," he explained.

He wanted to continue the good work he started in India, so at age 13, the son of computer scientists spent two months programming Teen Mesh, mostly by himself. His mission: break down geographical and economic boundaries to help kids in need.

"Let's say they don't have the money for tutoring or their parents can't help them. They can get their help from Teen Mesh from other students," he said.

Today, with very little marketing, Teen Mesh provides homework to more than 1600 students from the U.S. and Canada to Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, and Slovakia.

"I'm just happy I created Teen Mesh and did this for other people," Gupta told KPIX.

Several other honor students, like 15-year-old Armaan Sengupta of Dublin, volunteer too.

"He's a genius," Sengupta said of his friend. "I can't think of a better idea of helping kids you don't know."

"I'm learning that anyone like me can make a difference throughout the world," Gupta added.

So for creating and running a peer-to-peer homework network for teenagers around the globe, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Neil Gupta.

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