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Student Literacy Corps


Initiated in 1988, the UALR English Department’s Student Literacy Corps program provides tutors for students enrolled in the public schools or in the UALR Children International. Program participants are given a tutoring schedule that fits with their personal and class schedule. One training session is required, plus four hours a week of tutoring. Participants are also expected to join and contribute to our list serve, do course readings, keep records, and submit a final report.

The Illiteracy Problem


The need for literacy assistance in Arkansas is clear. Here are the facts according to Adult Functional Illiteracy in Arkansas:

  • More than 300,000 adults in Arkansas cannot read
  • Over 13% of the population 16+ years of age have less than an eighth grade education
  • 23% do not have a high school diploma
  • 6% have less than a fourth grade education, with the rate approaching 15% in some counties

According to the Literacy Council of Pulaski County, 48,000 adults are considered to be functionally illiterate in Pulaski County alone. This problem is closely related to the 25% drop-out rate for high school students.

Why the UALR Literacy Corps?

How You Can Make An Important Difference in Someone’s Life

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock works with the Little Rock Public Schools to provide the opportunity for undergraduates to help fight illiteracy. The Student Literacy Corps accepts UALR students each semester to examine the literacy problems facing our state and nation and to provide assistance to local schools.

As a UALR Student Literacy intern, you will give at-risk students the special one-on-one attention required to increase self-esteem and provide the confidence necessary to raise scholastic performance.

…her reading grade went from a ‘D’ to a ‘B’ as did two of her other subjects…. I do not think of myself as the reason for her success, but rather as a catalyst, someone who took the time to care and become involved.
–Melissa Nieser, former literacy tutor

What Do I Need To Do?

UALR students in all majors are encouraged to apply. The Literacy Corps requires only that you be of junior or senior standing and hold a commitment to promote literacy in our state.

You will earn three upper-level hours credit upon completion of the following course requirements:

  • participate in a training workshop
  • complete weekly discussion questions
  • tutor several times a week at a local public school
  • complete a final report describing your tutoring experience

…I can see a remarkable improvement in his expression and overall confidence when he reads out loud…. Now when he reads, he is doing beautifully… I think so much of his problem lies in his lack of self confidence and others’ low expectation of his ability.
–Sharon Dees, former literacy tutor

What Else Do I Get?

You can expect the following additional benefits as a member of the Student Literacy Corps:

  • develop interpersonal skills
  • tie academic performance with real world experience
  • make a difference in your community
  • understand the state and national illiteracy problem
  • earn an important addition to your resume

…it turned out to be a lot more than just three hours of college credit. This experience has been totally positive for me. It’s amazing that I can help a student achieve new goals, and at the same time give myself a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
–Bo Baldwin, former literacy tutor

Who Else Is Involved?

UALR Students from all parts of campus participate as tutors. They are from many age groups, various backgrounds, and diverse majors. What they share is a commitment to help.

The Student Literacy Corps works in partnership with the Little Rock School District. These dedicated individuals

  • arrange training, schedules, and tutoring sessions
  • provide tutoring materials
  • monitor the progress of the program
  • serve as the liaison between the Student Literacy Corps and the schools

Being with and bonding with the students has been an enjoyment to me. I’ve learned from them as much as they have from me. I loved the experience, and I am a better person because of it.
–Gwen Moncrief, former literacy tutor

What About Training?

A training workshop conducted by members of the UALR faculty, and personnel from the schools, will prepare you for tutoring. The training course covers the following material:

  • an overview of the Little Rock Public Schools
  • an examination of the training materials and resources
  • roles of tutors
  • a profile of the reading assistance program in the Little Rock schools
  • strategies for working with educationally disadvantaged youth

I have very much enjoyed my experience as a tutor, and I am grateful to the University that I have been able to earn credit hours through participation.
–Barbara A. Silaski, former literacy tutor

How Long Has This Been Going On?

In 1988, the English Department at UALR established a literacy internship program in which students tutored children and adults in reading and writing while earning three credit hours. The program established a network of faculty, staff, and students who are committed to increased literacy in the United States.and in Arkansas.

Since its beginning, UALR hundreds of literacy interns have tutored thousands of students in a variety of programs and schools across Central Arkansas.

My involvement in literacy has become a passion with me.
–Debbie Rogers, former literacy tutor

How Can I Join?

To join the UALR Literacy Corps or for more information, please contact:

Cheryl Chapman
(501) 837-8472

It is an eternally gratifying experience. I enjoyed my experiences with the tutoring program and plan to participate again.
–Barbara A. Sanders, former literacy tutor

Updated 11.29.2011