Markesha Harris and familyBy the time Markesha Harris entered third grade, she was already having a difficult time in school. Not only was she learning to overcome a speech impediment, but she was reluctant to raise her hand in class for fear she’d be teased over her struggles with reading.  That’s when her mother looked into the Hartman Literacy and Learning Center at Marquette University.

Through the Hartman Center's after school tutoring program, participating students are bussed to Marquette from urban partner schools twice a week during the school year, where they receive two hours of literacy instruction from Marquette University students who are training to be urban elementary school teachers.

And the Center’s programs really work.

After just six months of twice-weekly phonics-based sessions to help her recognize words and develop better comprehension strategies, Markesha was showing signs of improvement with her reading, as well as her confidence levels. After completing the program, Markesha went on to achieve a 4.0 grade point average at Messmer High School in Milwaukee and is currently a student at Marquette University.

“The Hartman Center made me think about college at a very young age,” Markesha says. “It probably would have been on my radar, but probably not Marquette. The Hartman Center made me excited about attending college, and I could not wait.”

Read More About Markesha's Story

Each year the Hartman Center provides free services for over 100 struggling readers like Markesha, from Milwaukee’s inner city. In addition to supporting the literacy development of inner-city youth, the program provides participating students with the confidence and knowledge they need to think ahead to both high school and college.

You can support our work! Find out how.

For more information about the Hartman Literacy and Learning Center, please contact the center director, Dr. Kathleen Clark, at or program coordinator, Mary Krawczyk, at or (414) 288-7617.