AmeriCorps, Citi Foundation and Points of Light Join in Three-Year, $10 Million Public-Private Partnership; Two Local Nonprofits, The Door and Jersey Cares, Play Critical Roles
NEW YORK CITY -- Abe Sierra grew up in Boston, with few resources and fewer role models. He dropped out of high school but eventually got his GED and joined City Year as an AmeriCorps member. Serving as a tutor for elementary school students gave him purpose and the motivation to do more. “I want to inspire young people in my community to avoid many of the stumbling blocks I encountered,” he says.
Today Sierra will be sworn in for a second term of duty. He will become one of the first 50 AmeriCorps VISTA members to help run ServiceWorks, a major public-private partnership recently identified by President Obama as part of My Brother’s Keeper, an administrative initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.
Funded by a $10 million grant from the Citi Foundation, ServiceWorks will engage 225 AmeriCorps members over three years to help 25,000 underserved young adults (men and women) in 10 cities develop the skills they need to prepare for college and careers. It will be the nation’s largest corporate-sponsored AmeriCorps VISTA program and will build a large-scale volunteer response to the crisis of low college and career readiness.
Through ServiceWorks, 25,000 young people – in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. – will receive training in critical 21st century leadership and workplace skills, the chance to build their networks and connections to community, and the opportunity to use their new skills by participating in, and leading, volunteer service projects. Thousands of people in the participating cities – including Citi employees – will volunteer as success coaches and professional skills trainers.
Part of a ground-breaking initiative of the Citi Foundation, called Pathways to Progress, ServiceWorks will be managed by Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service. In the New York area, The Door and Jersey Cares, two local nonprofits, will serve as host agencies for the AmeriCorps members.
Today’s swearing-in ceremony will be led by Grammy Award-winning poet J. Ivy at Citi’s headquarters in New York. Speakers will include Sierra as well as Deon Jones, another young man who says that helping others helped him succeed.
Ed Skyler, Citi’s Executive Vice President of Global Public Affairs and Chairman of the Citi Foundation, cited ServiceWorks as part of the answer to the critical question: “How do we make sure young people – the future of this country – are prepared to succeed in the 21rst century job market?”
“With the youth unemployment rate at 15% nationally, we launched Pathways to Progress to try to close the job-skills mismatch and ensure young people are capable of landing the jobs that are actually out there,” said Skyler. “Through ServiceWorks, young people will learn about volunteerism, leadership and team building, and develop key communication skills, all of which are necessary in the workplace. Especially at a young age, we need to do everything we can to connect youth with opportunities that fuel their career ambitions and our $50 million Pathways initiative is an investment in their future.”
Neil Bush, Chair of the Points of Light board, said, “ServiceWorks will show the world that national and volunteer service works to help underserved young adults develop the skills they need for college and careers. And ServiceWorks will prove that government, business and the nonprofit sector can and must work together to build strong communities.”
Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps), said, “By creating opportunities for young people to prepare for college and careers through volunteering, we give them the chance to experience the power we all have inside to make a difference in our world. The earlier we do this, the better – and it’s never too late to start."