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Students, faculty try to raise literacy rate

By Allyson Betot

August 30, 2012

Infographics by Hillary Akers

For the past year, students, faculty and staff from UNCP have been trying to set up a Literacy Commons in the area, along with representatives from the Public Schools of Robeson County and Robeson Community College.

The falling literacy and graduation rates in Robeson County have inspired these like-minded individuals to do something for their community.

The Literacy Commons would serve to facilitate stronger community literacy.

"These [literacy and graduation rates] are shocking, but we can all make a difference," said Christie Poteet, the director of service-learning at the Office for Community and Civic Engagement.

The number of people in Robeson County living below the poverty level is at 30.2 percent.

Meanwhile the high school graduation rate for Robeson County is 78.2 percent, compared to the 80.2 percent of North Carolina overall.

According to a study conducted by U.S. Department of Education, high school graduates get paid an average of $7,840 more per year than those who do not graduate from high school.

Raising the literacy rate of the county will improve the high school graduation rate, thereby improving the poßverty rate in Robeson County overall.
Infographic by Hillary Akers
"These things should be an eye opener, so you can ask yourself, 'What else can I do?'" Poteet said.

Not only would the program improve the literacy rate for Robeson County, but it would provide a unique opportunity for UNCP students and faculty to mentor youth and put into practice the educational theories they have learned in their education courses and help to develop their professional skills for post graduation work.

Lela Clark, director of Undergraduate Admissions, said that Jackie "has been a teacher, mentor and friend. So much of what I know about admissions, recruitment and leadership, I learned from her."

According to Literacy Commons representative Tank Steiner, despite having the initial Literacy Commons proposal rejected by the University, they are still moving forward with their vision to create a more literate Robeson County with the hope that the University will offer more support in the future.

To see the full proposal and response from administration, or to learn more about the Literacy Commons, visit their website at

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