AmeriCorps is an organization with a mission to provide for the American people. A mission to make American citizens smarter, healthier and more united. A mission for its members to take action in lieu of waiting for things to change themselves. Those who join AmeriCorps make a commitment of service to give back to the community, and in return gain skills, knowledge and an unparalleled experience.
AmeriCorps offers a rewarding and accessible program that allows dedicated adults to fulfill their prospects of contributing to the greater good in their own communities. AmeriCorps programs, which generally last one year, offer individuals the opportunity to carry out their civic duty while applying skills and ideals in order to service the critical needs of their cities. From tutoring disadvantaged youth to offering technical and computer skills, each year AmeriCorps presents more than 75,000 possibilities for adults of any age.
Studies done by the Corporation for National and Community Service and a ten-year longitudinal study piloted by AmeriCorps concluded that current AmeriCorps members and alumni maintain an increased level of community service, community-based activism and connection, awareness of community problems, engagement in the political process and voter participation. Nearly all AmeriCorps members report gaining useful skills from their experience and a vast majority of AmeriCorps alumni continue to volunteer after completing their service.
The federally funded program, nicknamed “the domesticated Peace Corps,” was created during former President Bill Clinton’s administration by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, and expanded 50 percent while former President George W. Bush was in office. The program provides grants to local and national organizations to assist in the funding, recruiting, training and placement of AmeriCorps members into programs that aid vital community needs.
Some of the organizations that partner with AmeriCorps include Communities in Schools, Jumpstart for Young Children, Citizen Schools, City Year, YMCA, Girl Scouts of the USA, Boy Scouts of America, Boys & Girls Club of Americas of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Camp Fire USA, Habitat for Humanity, the Student Conservation Association, Reading Partners and Teach For America
Although AmeriCorps is open to adults of all ages, its monetary incentives are a lure for college-aged students. The Corporation for National and Community Service estimates 71 percent of AmeriCorps alumni were motivated to join by the prospect of earning a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. In exchange for a year of full-time service, AmeriCorps members earn an education award that can be used to pay for college or graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans. Some members also receive a living allowance and health insurance. Since it’s establishment in 1994, more than 350,000 Americans have served in AmeriCorps, and 41 percent of AmeriCorps alumni have received a four-year college degree within three years of entering the service.
Those interested in participating in AmeriCorps, or those who simply want additional information about what AmeriCorps has to offer, may want to visit AmeriCorps.gov. Their comprehensive website provides visitors with answers and insight for all aspects of the AmeriCorps program. The website also features beneficial tools such as an interactive program selector that suggests volunteer programs unique to each user’s personality, interests and availability. Online applications are readily available for those who meet the qualifications and are willing to take a leap and make an impact. Go ahead and take a look.