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CARE Certification


The Center Acknowledgment and Recognition of Excellence (CARE) program certifies writing centers that are committed to literacy, learning, and writing. The CARE program establishes professional criteria relevant to diverse local contexts, providing writing centers the opportunity to articulate their unique stories and celebrate their accomplishments.


Currently, CARE is the only certification by the writing center community for the writing center community. Benefits of pursuing certification include:

    • An impetus for strategic planning and meaningful reflection among writing center administrators, tutors, and campus partners
    • Feedback on the center’s work from colleagues in the profession
    • A way to highlight the value of the program to external audiences such as institutional administrators

Who? Where?

Any writing center can apply if it belongs to the Southeastern Writing Center Association (SWCA) at the time of application. As a service of the SWCA, CARE certification is intended to benefit the organization’s current members, whether they are located in the Southeastern United States or in other national and international regions. Applicants should acquire an institutional or professional SWCA membership before submitting their materials. After certification, membership renewal is not required. Recertifications do not require membership.

Academic support centers that provide tutoring in writing are also welcome to apply. To earn certification, they will need to show their engagement with the field of writing center studies, which differs from subject tutoring.


Applications are welcomed on a rolling basis and reviewed tri-annually according to the cycle deadlines listed below:

    • Submit by January 15 to receive the decision by April 15
    • Submit by May 15 to receive the decision by August 15
    • Submit by September 15 to receive the decision by December 15

Centers receiving certification will be awarded a plaque at the annual SWCA conference. They are encouraged to display the CARE certification badge and to link to this webpage.


First, submit your Intent to Apply.

Next, collaborate with others in your center, especially your writing tutors, to prepare your application. Bring your center staff together to reflect on questions such as,

    • What is our mission? What is our vision for the future?
    • How would we describe our tutoring pedagogy?
    • What role do we play in our institution?
    • How do we engage with the field of writing center studies?
    • How do we assess our work? How do we define excellence?
    • Why do we want to pursue certification?

Your answers will guide your approach to the five required elements of the application, which are described below. You might find it helpful to review an application by a small, private university (Queens) or an application by a large, public university (Auburn). Your own materials might look quite different as you showcase your center’s unique value and context.

At any point along the way, the CARE co-chairs can provide feedback and coaching. When you are ready, upload your application materials here.

Required Application Documents

Letter of Application

A letter (about 500 words) should introduce the application. It should explain the center’s reasons for applying for CARE certification and describe the center’s engagement with the field of writing center studies as a whole, including its major organizations such as IWCA, SWCA, or other regional affiliates.

Memorandum of Institutional and Writing Center Contexts

The memorandum should explain institutional and center demographics, identity, and mission, as well as the center’s positionality. In addition, it should link writing center practices, initiatives, programming, and goals with larger institutional strategic planning. A 1,500-word maximum is recommended.

Description of Center’s Approach to Tutoring & Supporting Writing

This document should discuss the writing center’s approach to tutoring and supporting writing at its institution, describing the center’s educational philosophy. The document should also show how the center envisions and assesses the outcomes of tutoring. A 500-word maximum is recommended.

Supporting Materials Preview & Packet

The preview should identify the supporting materials you have chosen and help the reviewers to understand the story they tell.

Your supporting materials packet (a single PDF, 50 pages maximum) should illustrate your center’s excellence. Additionally, it should demonstrate that your center engages with the body of pedagogical and critical thought produced by writing center scholars. It should provide documentation of:

      • Tutor education that draws upon writing center research (e.g., syllabi, modules, samples of tutor work)
      • Center assessment (e.g., annual report, strategic plan)
      • Forms of support (one-to-one tutoring, embedded tutoring programs, workshops, faculty PD, WAC/WID work, etc.)
      • Outreach (e.g., events, tutor recruitment, publications)

Letters of Support from Campus Partners

These letters (in a single PDF) should be written by representatives of two different units that are separate from the writing center. The writers should explain how the center adds value to campus life, offering specific examples of what it has accomplished. The best letters of support come from campus partners who have worked closely with the writing center and can speak in detail about the support it provides.


The CARE reviewers, who have led the certification of their own writing centers, will assess how well your materials meet the guidelines set out on this webpage. Based on the collective evaluation, the CARE co-chairs will determine whether to certify your center or invite you to revise and resubmit.

Certification is valid for five years. At the four-year mark, certified centers due for recertification will be notified, and recertification statements will be due one year from notification.

The recertification process consists of a letter (about 1,000 words) sent to the CARE reviewers summarizing steps the center has taken to uphold its excellence. Specifically, the letter should describe how the center has maintained or enhanced its programs since the last certification or recertification, as well as how it has continued to establish relationships on campus.

  • Athens State University (Athens, AL) (2018)
  • Auburn University (Auburn, AL) (2022)
  • Augusta University (Augusta, GA) (2019)
  • Brazosport College (Lake Jackson, TX) (2021)
  • Brigham Young University (Provo, UT) (2020)
  • Christian Brothers University (Memphis, TN) (2020)
  • Claflin University (Orangeburg, SC) (2019)
  • Clemson University (Clemson, SC) (2023)
  • Coker University (Hartsville, SC) (2020)
  • College of Charleston (Charleston, SC) (2019)
  • College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, VA) (2019)
  • CUNY School of Professional Studies (New York, NY) (2024)
  • Dallas Baptist University (Dallas, TX) (2024)
  • Daytona State College (Daytona Beach, FL) (2021)
  • Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL) (2019)
  • Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville, AL) (2023)
  • Nova Southeastern University (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) (2018)
  • Piedmont Virginia Community College (Charlottesville, VA) (2019)
  • Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, NC) (2021)
  • Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA) (2021)
  • Tennessee State University (Nashville, TN) (2019)
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, AL) (2022)

C.A.R.E. Application Resources

Carpenter, Russell, Scott Whiddon, and Courtnie Morin. “‘For Writing Centers, By Writing Centers’: A New Model for Certification via Regional Organizations.” WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship. 42.1-2 (2017). 2-9.

Carpenter, Russell, Scott Whiddon, and Courtnie Morin. “Research Toward a Writing Center Certification Process: Findings, Research, and Implications.” Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference. Richmond, VA. 22 February 2018.

Carpenter, Russell, Scott Whiddon, and Courtnie Morin. “‘For Writing Centers, By Writing Centers’: A New Model for Certification via Regional Organizations.” WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship. 42.1-2 (2017). 2-9.

Carpenter, Russell, Scott Whiddon, and Courtnie Morin. “Understanding What Certifications Mean for Writing Centers: Analyzing a Pilot Program via a Regional Organization.” How We Teach Writing Tutors: A WLN Digital Edited Collection. Eds. Karen Johnson and Ted Roggenbuck, 2019.

Whiddon, Scott, Russell Carpenter, Courtnie Morin, Kevin Dvorak, and Joy Bracewell. “Why Do This and What Do I Need?: A Workshop for Preparing SWCA Certification Proposals.” Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference. Myrtle Beach, SC. February 21, 2019.

Certification Testimonials

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