In communities across the nation, tens of thousands of service year corps members are working to address local needs — making a huge impact on important issues such as education, the environment, health, and many others. In programs such as City Year, FoodCorps, Habitat for Humanity, and hundreds more — corps members make a lasting impact on communities while building valuable skills that help advance their education and career.
We invite you to join us in imagining the impact service years at scale could have in your community to meet specific, local needs.
Bringing service year programs to your community
Every community can create its own service year program to address local needs. The “Creating a Service Year Program” Handbook provides a guideline for starting a service year program. An effective service year has the potential for substantial impact on three fronts — the host organization’s capacity for achieving its mission, the community in which service is performed, and the individual who completes the service.
Some communities are taking a more ambitious approach, going beyond a single program and scaling service year opportunities to complement other community-wide initiatives. We’re looking for a handful of communities to become pilot sites for this approach. Check back soon for more information about this exciting initiative.
“I'm calling for a few cities across the country to step up and lead...What if, upon graduating from high school, every young person in these cities is given an opportunity to complete a service year with other young people? Creating model towns and cities of service across America could provide powerful local examples that capture our collective imagination and create ripple effects for more service opportunities.”
— Stan McChrystal: A million young people to empower America in CNN, February 4, 2015
Interested in expanding service year opportunities in your community to address local issues? Contact Rosa Moreno at [email protected].
Service Years + Places at Work
Chicago: Empowering Opportunity Youth
In Chicago, Service Year Alliance has partnered with Starbucks to engage opportunity youth — those disconnected from education and employment between the ages of 16-24 — as part of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative. The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative is committed to creating pathways for young adults to build skills, attain credentials, and secure employment. Service Year Alliance and Starbucks’ partnership is designed to connect opportunity youth to service year positions as a pathway to a career.
In February 2016, Service Year Alliance employed a Chicago Director to spur efforts in Chicago that will create new service year opportunities, expand, and support existing service year programs, and discover new partnerships to promote a model that will bridge together service, training, social services, and employment placement for opportunity youth.
Currently, Serve Illinois Commission funds 32 Americorps programs across the state with approximately 1,600 Americorps members. There are 7 programs that actively recruit opportunity youth in Chicago. Service Year Alliance is working to grow the number of service year opportunities that are focused in the Chicagoland area and best support opportunity youth with appropriate support services.
The development of a service year model to engage opportunity youth will assist the city’s effort to decrease alarming social problems such highschool dropout, crime, and incarceration rates among this age group.
Contact our Chicago Director, Monique Ellington at [email protected] to join our efforts and get involved in Chicago.
New York City: A City-led Public-Private Partnership
On November 9, 2015, Mayor Bill DeBlasio launched the NYC Service’s City Service Corps with 55 inaugural members doing a full-time ten-month service year experience. It built on a strong base of existing programs and engaged service champions.
In its first year, NYC established a partnership with the City University of New York to create a high quality, cost efficient common professional development model across all the new service year programs. Pro bono bus shelter ads were posted across the city encouraging New Yorkers to “Serve A Year in their City.” The city was awarded the first “Operation AmeriCorps” grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service which provides up to $5.8 million to support 300 new AmeriCorps service year members over two-years to bolster the capacity of the city’s 128 new community schools.
“We were able to assemble an impressive cross-sector coalition of leaders and organizations from across the city to expand opportunities for young New Yorkers to serve. Our leaders see the benefit of the service year model and how it is an investment in the civic health of our great city and way to help develop a new talent pipeline.” -Paula Gavin, Chief Service Officer, NYC Corps
New York City established an effective public-private funding model (1/3 city agency funds; 1/3 host site funds; 1/3 private donor funds) and offers service year participants a monthly living stipend (approximately $1,250 pre-tax), a basic medical plan at no cost to participants, student loan forbearance or deferment on eligible loans while in service, plus eligibility to receive a Segal AmeriCorps education award upon program completion. Income-eligible participants can also receive childcare vouchers during their service year term. Participants serve full-time at City agencies and their partner nonprofit organization to address critical community needs, especially in the areas of education and economic empowerment. Twelve city agencies have built the funding of service years into their 2016 budgets, demonstrating the wide variety of channels for new service year positions.
This common infrastructure will make it possible for NYC to reach its goal of doubling the number of service years from 5,000 to 10,000 in the next few years. The initiative serves as a model for community-led expansion of service years.
Austin: A Recruitment Partnership
In Austin, Service Year Alliance has partnered with ServeAustin to support the efforts of nine AmeriCorps programs that have come together to raise awareness about the impact of a service year in their local community.
From testing hyperlocal engagement and recruitment efforts to providing communications support, materials, and on-the-ground training to program leaders, AmeriCorps members, and alums — our partnership with ServeAustin is all-encompassing. Through our partnership, we collaborated with the higher education community to drive young people to ServeAustin’s page on the Service Year Exchange by communicating directly with graduating seniors at the University of Texas Austin and other local colleges. ServeAustin is dedicated to driving traffic to their recruitment page on the Service Year Exchange and recruiting for all nine organizations at a local level.
Flint: Service as a Strategy
In 2011, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, local government and service organizations came together to test the feasibility of doubling the number of service year corps members in Flint. Flint’s Accelerator has gone well beyond this initial ambition, helping local nonprofits increase the number of AmeriCorps to more than 200 and setting a new goal of 300 AmeriCorps members by 2019.
Prior to establishing the Accelerator, many of Flint’s nonprofit agencies lacked the manpower and financial resources to meet the rising demands of the city’s most vulnerable populations. The Accelerator provides capacity-building and technical assistance to help local nonprofits successfully recruit, select, assign and train service members. Once members are placed with an organization in the community, the Accelerator – through its Civic Engagement Manager – provides monthly professional development, training and other supports to make sure each has a successful experience. A National Service Accelerator Fund, set up at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, provides support for technical assistance and training costs. The fund also assists local nonprofits in meeting the required federal match to operate the program. Each component of the accelerator initiative is supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
Today in Flint, dozens of AmeriCorps members provide tutoring, health education, conflict resolution, service-learning, and community outreach and engagement in Flint Community Schools; work with city residents and community groups to implement the City of Flint’s master plan by developing projects to improve the city’s parks and green spaces, safety and neighborhood engagement; work with neighborhoods along a major college corridor, helping residents to create block clubs, community patrol groups, board up vacant and open properties, map safe pathways for students traveling to and from school and implement crime prevention strategies; and importantly, have played a leading role in responding to the city’s drinking water crisis.