7 February 2024 • Service New Grant Will Study Community Literacy Initiatives

Geneva 2030 receives a grant from the Sociological Initiatives Foundation to support a study of HWS tutors’ approach to literary acquisition.

Geneva 2030’s Literacy Action Team, HWS Tutor Corps and two faculty from SUNY Cortland and SUNY Empire have been awarded a $20,000 grant through the Sociological Initiatives Foundation (SIF). The grant will support a study of HWS tutors and their conceptualization of literacy acquisition.

The HWS Tutor Corps promotes student learning through one-on-one academic tutoring and small group mentoring activities. Every semester, approximately 90 Hobart and William Smith students serve as tutors at the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva, St. Francis de Sales and St. Stephen School, Children’s Hours and Geneva City Schools.

Tutors are paid through a combination of Federal Work Study wages and grant funding from the 21st Century Program.

The SIF grant was coauthored by SUNY Cortland Assistant Professor of Literacy Alex Corbitt, SUNY Empire State University Professor Karis Jones and Assistant Director of HWS’ Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning Peter Budmen ’15. Working to advance literacy acquisition among youth in Geneva, the study will investigate how tutors make sense of equitable literacy instruction in their tutoring practice. Based on their findings, the researchers hope to address how Geneva 2030 and StriveTogether can better support efforts toward systemic change in community-based literacy instruction. 

Corbitt’s research focuses on mixed methods research, community design-based research, extracurricular literacy interventions and culturally sustaining literacy instruction.

Jones studies issues of equity in literacies learning and writing across disciplinary, fandom and gaming spaces through participatory research methods.

Together, Corbitt and Jones will codevelop and facilitate professional development opportunities for the tutors and conduct analyses of the tutors’ learning and instruction. 

 “We’re proud to offer such a robust tutoring experience,” says Budmen, who also serves as the Geneva 2030 Literacy Action Team coleader. “When we look at the data around tutoring as it relates to academic learning, the gains are profound. To be able to offer such experiences free of cost to families locally is a huge equity win.”

Budmen’s goal is to keep finding ways to enhance the program. “Augmenting tutor learning to be able to provide high-quality tutoring experiences that are culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate is an exciting addition to the already robust tutoring program we strive to offer both our college students and the tutoring recipients,” he says.

Jones is eager to examine the power of collective impact initiatives, like StriveTogether and Geneva 2030. “We look forward to learning more about community-engaged models of supporting children with literacy learning through this study. It’s such a pleasure to be working alongside the Geneva community to develop this important equity-focused tutoring initiative,” she says.

“This study is an exciting opportunity to supplement tutors’ decoding instruction with research-based approaches to culturally sustaining pedagogies,” says Corbitt. “We are thankful for the Sociological Initiatives Foundation’s endorsement of this urgent work.”

Geneva 2030 is a collective impact organization working with resources from the entire Geneva community, including nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals, to support the education of Geneva’s children from birth through high school and beyond. Since its founding in 2011, Hobart and William Smith has served as its anchor institution. 

To learn more about Geneva 2030 and its commitment to the Geneva youth, reach out to geneva2030@hws.edu or click here

In the photo above, Jessica Nguyen ’26 works with local youth at the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva.