Keeping Higher Education Connected to Service

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Robert Bisi

AmeriCorps members’ contribution to American education doesn’t end when our students leave for college.  By expanding the role of higher education in communities across the United States through service and volunteering, our programs have a huge footprint in higher education, serving at more than 157 institutions across the United States. 

Many of these campuses are recognized on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Launched in 2006, this honor annually highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve. This is the highest Federal recognition higher education institutions can receive for their community service.

One campus that is leading the way is Honor Roll recipient Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY. 

The school’s 45-member-strong Rochester AmeriCorps program is 20 years old, and during that time members have recruited more than 34,000 volunteers who served more than 553,000 hours in strengthening the Rochester community, most recently through service with the Rochester City School District. Their duties have included working with their Extended Day Initiative, pre-collegiate programs such as Upward Bound and Liberty Partnerships Program, and the Rochester Education Foundation to provide mentoring enrichment activities, tutoring, student support, and college prep services. 

Many of Monroe’s AmeriCorps alumni gain employment at their host sites or other community agencies with which they interacted with during their term of service.  For example, Amanda was placed at Monroe Community College’s Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP). LPP is a comprehensive academic excellence program targeted at the urban and rural middle and high school students. Their purpose is to ensure that youth of Liberty Partnerships Program graduate from high school and enter post-secondary education and the workforce as highly competent and compassionate young adults. After successfully completing her term of service, Amanda was asked to apply for and received the Program Advisor position within the program.

At the end of their service, AmeriCorps members receive an Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award that can be used to pay costs at eligible post-secondary educational institutions (including many technical schools and GI-Bill approved educational programs), as well as to repay qualified student loans. 

Members may elect to use it at more than 100 higher education institutions that match the award through the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Match Program, which works with higher education institutions to match the award as colleges and universities across the country actively recruit talented AmeriCorps alumni because of their reputation of perseverance, drive, and proven active citizenship. Many of these institutions offer a variety of incentives such as service scholarships or matching tuition funding.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is celebrating the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps and highlighting the theme of education during the month of February. For more information about the 20th anniversary, please visit the AmeriCorps 20th Anniversary portal.


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