A St. Louis-based sales and marketing services company, Maritz, awarded Webster University’s Student Literacy Corp (SLC) a $20,000 grant on Aug. 28. The grant will provide stipends for SLC student tutors during the 2012-2013 academic year. With the donation, the SLC is able to fund more student tutors in the greater St. Louis area.
Established in the 1990s, SLC is a program that places Webster students as tutors. The program allows students to work with new and struggling readers in schools and other educational programs throughout St. Louis.
Originally an education course with an extensive field experience component, SLC broadened in 2001 to allow noneducation majors to tutor. Some students receive federal work-study funds for their work. Others tutor as an act of community service.
Student tutors through SLC serve approximately 900 struggling readers at 21 sites throughout the greater St. Louis region, according to The Business Journal.
“It’s an opportunity for students at the university at every level to reach out and get involved further in our community,” said Kate Northcott, coordinator of SLC. “For a lot of our undergraduates in particular, I think they hear ‘When you graduate…’ as if you have no innate value today. I think it’s good for them when they make a difference in students’ lives.”
Kate Milligan, a Webster University senior English major, volunteered as a student tutor during spring 2012. Milligan was placed at River Roads Lutheran School in St. Louis city.
“I was looking for a second job on campus and ran across it,” Milligan said. “I love to read and I am an English major, so I thought it would be a good fit for me.”
Debbie Schirmer, community affairs manager at Maritz, said the company uses education to enhance the community.
“At Maritz, we are dedicated to empowering people to reach their full potential and ensuring bright futures for generations to come,” Schirmer said. “Our philanthropic efforts focus on education as a way to unlock that potential and have an impact in the communities in which we live and work.”
Since 2001, more than 400 tutors have served in the SLC. During the 2011-2012 school year, 66 tutors served an estimated 900 individuals at 26 tutoring sites, which include:
— Elementary, middle and high schools
— After-school programs
— Alternative education programs
— Homeless shelters
— Summer schools
— The adult education departments of St. Louis Public Schools and St. Louis County Schools systems.
“(The grant could) end the cycle of illiteracy for hundreds of members of our shared community,” said Brenda Fyfe, dean of the School of Education.
Milligan said she feels tutoring isn’t just a simple addition to a child’s life, but something more impactful.
“Tutoring could literally mean the difference between succeeding and failing. We have to get to work to help the latter part of the generation succeed.”