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Tutoring the Community

Two Illinois State Students share their experiences as tutors in the America Reads program. They are among the 108 tutors supplied to the Bloomington-Normal community through America Reads/America Counts, a federal program administered by Illinois State University’s Financial Aid Office. America Reads dates to 1996 when then-President Bill Clinton proposed the program as a way to ensure all children learn how to read by the end of the third grade.


  • Community Partners and Students

    “ISU has a focus on civic engagement. The community benefits from the service, but ISU students get multiple benefits: Federal Work-Study dollars; experience of working with kids, especially if they’re going into teaching; and graduating students get help by boosting their resumes. This is making an impact on someone’s life, and it started with not more than 20 tutors.” -Bridget Curl

  • Bilingual Support

    “Parents with limited English or no English language skills reach out to the program for assistance. Our tutors assist parents when completing enrollment forms, etc. All enrollment forms are available in Spanish, and ISU bilingual students are in great demand.” -Lyn Morris

  • From a new community partner

    I learned about the ISU America Reads Program through research on literacy support programs in and around Chicago. The positive impact your program has had on students, especially with the year-round support, caught our attention. We are actively exploring opportunities for collaboration to enhance our efforts in promoting literacy among students." 

Contact Information

  • Undergraduate and Graduate Students

    Seeking employment: Positions for tutors and graduate assistants are periodically posted on-line at You can also contact the ISU Financial Aid Office at (309) 438-2231 or, or the America Reads Office (see below). Eligibility requirements must be met.

Frequently Asked Questions

    • What must I do to qualify?
    1. You must be a recipient of a Federal Work Study (FWS) award in the term (semester/year) for which you are applying. There are no exceptions. If you do not know if you have FWS or qualify, contact your financial aid counselor at (309) 438-2231 or To apply for financial aid you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the correct academic year; see
    2. You must provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States.
    3. You must be enrolled at least half-time at Illinois State.
    4. You must pass a federal criminal “fingerprint” background investigation processed by the ISU Office of Human Resources. There is no cost to ISU students. Additional background checks may be required for specific sites (at no additional cost).
    5. A grade point average of 2.5 is required.
    • What amount of time must I commit?
    1. As a paid tutor, you must commit to tutor for a minimum of 2 hours/week for one full semester. The maximum numbers of hours that you can tutor per week is 28.
    2. You will also be required to attend paid mandatory training sessions (primarily on Zoom) and participate in on-line group chats
    • What other qualifications are required or preferred?
    You do not have to be in an Elementary Education degree program; however tutoring or mentoring experience, and a desire for and background with working with children are preferred. We also recruit students with bilingual (Spanish or French) speaking skills.
    • Do I have to own a car?
    No, but you must provide your own transportation to sites. Many are within walking distance from campus or on the bus route. Tutors are encouraged to carpool when possible.
    • What are the days and hours that tutors work?
    • There are 4 ways that the ISU ARAC program provides support in the community: In-school tutoring, supervised After-school tutoring, and either in-person or virtual individualized support, after school and on Saturdays. We also have a program during the ISU Summer Session tutoring programs.
    • Hours are between 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Monday – Friday, and Saturdays between 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Hours on Fridays are limited during the Summer Session to 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for in-person placements. Tutoring will not be provided when the University is closed.
    • Tutors are not required to provide support during finals week or Spring break, unless special arrangements are made with the tutor/program coordinator in advance. For more information, download a copy of the University academic calendar.. In the event of a natural disaster (pandemic, act of God), tutoring services may be canceled. For more information, please go to: Severe Weather Policy
    • How many hours a week do tutors work?
    1. The ISU ARAC program is flexible. All tutors sign a contract (see section II) and must keep a consistent schedule each term.
    2. Paid tutors: Must work at least 2 hours per week. The maximum number of hours is contingent upon your Federal Work Study award which you are required to monitor. Please see the ARAC Program Coordinator for questions or concerns.
    • Where are tutoring sessions held?
    Tutoring is conducted in the local schools, public libraries, on the Illinois State University campus, at local after-school programs and community centers, as well as virtually. Tutors will provide families with a Zoom link for sessions.
    • What are the benefits of being an ARAC tutor?

    Graduate and undergraduate students can appreciate many benefits including:

    • Resume building experience in tutoring, increased interpersonal communication and mentoring skills;
    • Community service experience;
    • Personal and financial enrichment by participating in a national effort to improve the reading and mathematics skills of children.
    • How much will I be paid as a tutor?
    1. Undergraduates – beginning January 2024 the minimum hiring rate = $14.00/hour for the Tutor position; and a minimum of $14.50/hour for the Tutor Specialist position.
    2. Graduates – commensurate with education and experience.

    Merit increases are available to enthusiastic, long-term employees.

    • How do I apply for the Tutor or Tutor Specialist position?
    Email and provide your UID. The Program Coordinator will verify your eligibility for Federal Work Study (FWS) and then contact you. You may also search the ISU Jobs website for a current/active posting.
    • As an instructor how do I request an America Reads/America Counts tutor for my classroom?
    Contact the America Reads/America Counts Office at (309) 438-3421 or for a Tutor Request form: Spring 2024 Tutor Request form. If your school or classroom is new to the ARAC program, the program coordinator will arrange for a site visit to coordinate services.
    • As a parent, how do I schedule a tutor to work with my son or daughter?
    Contact the America Reads/America Counts Office at (309) 438-3421 or and request an enrollment packet, or go to: Complete your forms for America Reads / America Counts program. There is no cost to families as it is a free resource for the community.
    • What are the benefits for students?

    When enrolled in ARAC a student can:

    • develop a positive attitude about reading and increase the motivation to read;
    • improve reading fluency and comprehension; increase sight-word vocabulary, spelling and writing skills, and;
    • improve math proficiency and increase knowledge of basic math facts.
    • What are the grade levels that ARAC tutors can assist?
    We provide tutors for children in Preschools and entering Kindergarten* through the ninth grade in reading and/or math.
    • What type of academic support do tutors provide?
    Tutors provide reading and math assistance for children in preschool* through the 12th grade. We can also provide family literacy services and have bilingual tutors.
    • How many students will I tutor?
    This will vary by instructor during the academic year. A typical day in the classroom may involve rotating between students to check work and/or spending time with one or two students to provide support. Tutors have the option of increasing the number of students they tutor in the after-school program. During the Summer Session, a tutor may provide support for 15 or more students per week. Sessions may be held once per week or more.

    *Students must be age 5 by September 1st