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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


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.

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...

By Eileen Lacaden and Meredith McNair


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.

It has been a pleasure working with Hawaiians and the rest of the community here. Most people are willing to talk story and share ideas, and no one is afraid to speak their mind. People have much aloha (love, compassion, kindness…) and want to know how they can help.

By: Nicole Stanek


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.

I was serving in that capacity when the historic floods of September 2013 destroyed 220 homes and damaged 1,300 more. I am proud to have been a part of the team that stepped up to help those affected. I knew firsthand the impact that AmeriCorps members can make in a community recovering from disaster, and I knew we needed to recruit AmeriCorps members to help grow our capacity to address our community’s increased need for affordable housing.

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.”

By: Tim Smith


Mike Sullivan wasn’t sure what to expect when he emerged from his basement on May 22, 2011. Underground, all he and his two roommates could do was listen and wonder if the noises that they were hearing were really of a tornado. Above ground, a neighbor explained he had only heard “that noise” once before – during the deadly 1966 tornado in Topeka, Kansas.

As a Kansas native born 30 years after that tornado, Mike was new to “that noise.” He moved to Joplin in 2007 as a Missouri Southern State University student because of their famous Drumline team, but had since become part of this tight-knit community. Now, they marched through their neighborhood unsure exactly where they were. Street signs, landmarks – all gone, removing anything familiar from their view.

What would become familiar in the weeks and months and years to follow was the St. Bernard Project (SBP). Shortly after the storm, Rebuild Joplin opened its doors, staffed by AmeriCorps members serving with SBP. “The amazing work that they did in my community was incredible,” Mike said. But it would be two years before he had a personal interaction with them.

In 2013, he met Theo Holtwick, an AmeriCorps member serving with SBP. At this point, Mike was working at a local bike shop in Joplin and Theo was helping to organize an 821 mile bike ride from Joplin to New Orleans (the fantastically named – the JOMONOLA bike ride). Mike would provide mechanical support for the ride – a fundraiser for those displaced by the Joplin tornado – and get his first taste for SBP and AmeriCorps. He would later reflect that serving as an AmeriCorps member himself was “inevitable,” but at the time, it was hard for him to understand why this outsider had come to his community to help his neighbors and be so humble and nonchalant about the whole thing. 

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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