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Grant Aims to Boost College Readiness in High School and Elementary Literacy Scores


JONESBORO – The Neighborhood Red Wolves Community Engagement Program at Arkansas State University has received an operational grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for $128,000.

The engagement program will utilize tutors to increase literacy scores in elementary students and deliver a range of services intended to create student awareness about post-secondary pathways for high school students.

Red Wolves literacy tutors and mentors, who are now being recruited, will assist students in reaching proficiency levels required for high school graduation and college admission with the overall goal of increasing the college-going rate in Arkansas.

“The A-State Neighborhood Red Wolves Community Engagement Program will select and train tutors to serve in select schools in Jonesboro while strengthening the partnerships and collaborative efforts in the local communities,” said Dr. Brenda Randle, the program’s director. “It will focus on improving literacy skills for students in K-5 and the college-going rate for students in grades 10-12."

To address the decline in the Arkansas college-going rate and prepare students for successful post-secondary transitions, the Neighborhood Red Wolves Community Engagement Program will engage 14 mentors, known as AmeriCorps members, to support students in grades 10-12 and 14 tutors to work with grades K-5 at three Jonesboro public schools and community-based sites during the 2023-24 academic year.

Literacy tutors will work with students who are performing below grade level to improve their literacy skills and comprehension, while the mentors will provide individualized support such as college planning and post-secondary goal setting at a local high school.

The tutors and mentors can be A-State students, undergraduate or graduate, or community members. Upon completing the program, tutors and mentors will receive an educational stipend and an opportunity for an A-State AmeriCorps scholarship.

“The Neighborhood Red Wolves Community Engagement program is excited to begin working with our local schools to support students on their educational journey,” Randle also said. “This initiative will strengthen Arkansas by working to end educational inequity by supporting students from historically marginalized communities.”

The program is based within the A-State Division of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement, led by Dr. Lonnie Williams, vice chancellor.

This funding is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, civic engagement, and national service programs like AmeriCorps. For more than 25 years, more than 1 million dedicated Americans have joined AmeriCorps and pledged to ‘get things done.’ Those interested in serving can learn more at AmeriCorps.gov/join.

photo of Memorial Arch in center of campus
Memorial Arch on the Arkansas State University campus.