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We are the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that helps more than 5 million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service. Working hand in hand with local partners, we tap the ingenuity and can-do spirit of the American people to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation.

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By: Mackenzie Martin, Reblog via MPR News

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Editor’s note: As graduating seniors say goodbye to college, many are also saying hello to student loan payments. Seven out of 10 Minnesota college students graduate with loans, according to the Institute for College Access & Success. In this next installment of MPR’s Young Reporters Series, Mackenzie Martin explores how some students are dealing with their student loan debt.

Seven out of 10 college students graduate with loans. The average student loan debt is about $32,000. Most graduates repay their loans, but a report by the U.S. Department of Education says nearly 16,000 Minnesotans had defaulted on their student loans in 2012.

When students have trouble repaying, there are options, but they don’t always take advantage of them. That’s possibly because they don’t know what those options are since they’ve likely never read the terms of their repayment plans. A study by the student loan marketplace LendEDU found 94 percent don’t know the terms of repayment for their loans.

Not knowing the terms can cost borrowers even more. Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, which offers counseling to people with student loans, says counselors have seen borrowers coming into their offices after paying $600, for example, to sign up for an income-driven repayment plan for their federal student loan, which is something they can do for free and on their own. But they didn’t know.

But Cate Rysavy, who oversees a relatively new student loan counseling program at LSS, says she believes most of the people who defaulted on the loan could have been helped if they would have taken advantage of some of these federal student loan repayment options.

Graduates with federal loans can get a new repayment plan or refinance their loans. Or they can reduce or even delay their payments through forbearance or deferment.

May 31, 2016

By: Mackenzie Martin, Reblog via MPR News

Editor’s note: As graduating seniors say goodbye to college, many are also saying hello to student loan payments. Seven out of 10 Minnesota college...

By Eileen Lacaden and Meredith McNair

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My name is Eileen Lacaden and I am an AmeriCorps VISTA member. My parents and brothers immigrated to America from the Philippines and ended up in New Jersey, where I was born and raised. I attended engineering school at Virginia Tech and graduated with two desires: to live in a vibrant, diverse community and to use my skills to serve that community. That’s how I found my place as an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice.

My project aims to facilitate the creation of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), rental units built on single-family properties, with the overall goal of creating affordable housing. The lack of affordable housing is part of why Hawai‘i has the country’s highest per capita rate of homelessness.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned during my service is the importance of cultural competence. Appleseed is partnered with Hawaiian Community Assets and Hawaiian Community Development Board on this project to encourage Hawaiians to utilize ADUs, especially on lands set aside for Native Hawaiians called Hawaiian Home Lands. Working with these organizations, speaking at community workshops, and just being an active community member taught me the attitudes and communication styles that are most effective in getting through to the people I am serving.

May 27, 2016

By: Nicole Stanek

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Note: This post originally appeared on Habitat for Humanity’s blog.

I’ve seen big builds, small builds and everything in between. Habitat for Humanity’s annual AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon is one event I’ve always looked forward to.

Each Build-a-Thon provides unique opportunities and experiences, but all have an incredible sense of community that is palpable to those involved. As a Habitat AmeriCorps member, I helped rebuild Cedar Rapids in 2010 alongside more than 500 serving AmeriCorps members. In Pensacola, Florida, I watched the Blue Angels soar above us as 51 AmeriCorps members built homes, and I was thrilled to return to the U.S. Gulf Coast as an AmeriCorps alum in 2015 to serve as a host site manager during the Katrina 10-year-anniversary Build-a-Thon in New Orleans.

My time with Habitat solidified my desire to serve others and pursue a career in the nonprofit sector. AmeriCorps helped me grow from a newly minted college graduate to a competent professional with coordination, management and program development experience. After two years of service, I accepted a position as volunteer coordinator at St. Vrain Habitat in Longmont, Colorado.

May 27, 2016




National Military Appreciation Month: Meet the veterans that are healing the Earth

This post originally appeared on the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps blog.

Matt West is a U.S. Navy veteran who, last December, completed his second full-time term in VetsWork: Environment, a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) program which supports career development for veterans seeking a civilian career in natural resources/public lands management.  

Matt served with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), where he engaged other veterans in service opportunities that restore the natural environment of the South Puget Sound/Joint Base Lewis McCord Area.  Matt designed an internship program for veterans with a community partner, the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) that has helped over 25 veterans develop job skills in the environmental restoration sector. His program has doubled in size in its second year.

Matt is passionate about helping other veterans connect with the natural world.  He believes there is a mutual benefit when working on restoration projects.  Obviously the land reaps the benefits of people working to improve the sustainability of our resources.  Equally important for Matt, though, are the personal and potentially therapeutic impacts for members.  Matt describes it this way, “By offering veterans a chance to heal the Earth I have witnessed incredible transitions of incredible people doing incredible work.”

May 26, 2016




Matt West is a U.S. Navy veteran who, last December, completed his second full-time term in VetsWork: Environment, a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) program which supports career development for veterans seeking a civilian career in natural resources/public lands management.  

Matt served with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), where he engaged other veterans in service opportunities that restore the natural environment of the South Puget Sound/Joint Base Lewis McCord Area.  Matt designed an internship program for veterans with a community partner, the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) that has helped over 25 veterans develop job skills in the environmental restoration sector. His program has doubled in size in its second year.

Matt is passionate about helping other veterans connect with the natural world.  He believes there is a mutual benefit when working on restoration projects.  Obviously the land reaps the benefits of people working to improve the sustainability of our resources.  Equally important for Matt, though, are the personal and potentially therapeutic impacts for members.  Matt describes it this way, “By offering veterans a chance to heal the Earth I have witnessed incredible transitions of incredible people doing incredible work.”

May 26, 2016

From Our CEO | Wendy Spencer

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By John J Lira, Veterans and Military Families Program Officer The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Veterans...

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