New Grant Allows Shaw Center’s Literacy Corps to Hire More Undergraduate Tutors

Up to 100 new community engagement service positions tutoring children and teens in Syracuse City School District and other area schools have been made possible by a new grant to the Shaw Center Syracuse University Literacy Corps program.

woman with long hair looking at camera
Carla Ramírez

The grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for $700,000 will support the hiring of additional undergraduate students for tutor positions for the next two years. The University’s Literacy Corps tutors primarily work with elementary school students but also with middle and high school students at Syracuse City Schools, other Syracuse-area schools and at community organizations throughout Greater Syracuse, according to Carla Ramírez, Shaw Center assistant director and Syracuse University Literacy Corps program coordinator.

Students interested in participating can apply now through the end of January. Positions begin in February 2024. Those hired can continue the positions throughout their years at the University. In many cases, students can also use their work as community service hours to fulfill academic program requirements, Ramírez says.

How to Apply
Interested candidates may apply online or through Career Services’ Handshake job portal (job posting #8425846). Ramírez also encourages applicants to visit the Shaw Center at 111 Waverly Ave. in person to apply and to learn more about the role.

Reciprocal Value
The 25-year literacy partnership between the Shaw Center and the Syracuse City School District is based on the core principle that literacy provides a foundation for lifetime success, from schooling to employment to navigating life challenges such as maintaining wellness and accessing health care, says Pamela Heintz, associate vice president and Shaw Center director. The Cabrini Foundation grant is a recognition of the importance of the program and literacy skills in general and especially to maintaining health, she says.

While teachers report about an 88% improvement in classroom participation, behavior, attendance and literacy skill development for tutored students, the benefits go both ways. “The teachers are extremely pleased with the outcomes, and for a program to be consistently in place for this amount of time indicates its success and impact for both the community and the University,” Heintz says. “It also helps our students understand the challenges of doing community-based work and shows them how to have more consistent, effective, authentic relationships and partnerships.”

large group of people all dressed in navy blue Syracuse University shirts
Shaw Center Fall 2023 semester tutors at their reading program orientation. (Photo by Carla Ramírez)

Ramírez affirms how tutors benefit from the experience. For many, she says, the community is reflective of home, and being involved here helps them feel a sense of belonging. “We tell our tutors that they’re not only helping and teaching students in the district but that this work provides learning opportunities for them, too. They are working on communication skills and building professional skills, but while they’re teaching, they’re also learning from the kids that they tutor.”

Katie McPeak ’24, a senior policy studies major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, has been a Literacy Corps tutor since her first year at Syracuse. She has enjoyed all her tutoring work and especially likes helping older students with college preparation. “This has helped me develop my skills and I’ve become much more outgoing,” she says. “I think it’s very important to become engaged with the community you’re living in for four years while building your professional skills. This has been an amazing experience. Syracuse is a beautiful community and I think everyone should be really excited to get involved.”

Position Details

  • Undergraduate students of all grades, majors, programs and colleges are welcome to apply.
  • Applicants must be in good academic standing.
  • Prior tutoring experience is not required; training is provided.
  • Positions pay $15 per hour.
  • Students must work eight to 10 hours a week in blocks of a minimum of three hours.
  • Tutor transportation is provided by the Shaw Center’s shuttles.
  • District teachers coordinate tutor classroom placements.
  • Since Syracuse City School District students speak more than 70 languages, multilingual speakers are encouraged to apply.

This article was originally published January 16, 2024 by Diane Stirling here.