AmeriCorps alumni credit their service for exposing them to real world, inspiring civic engagement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A resoundingly high number of individuals who have served in AmeriCorps believe the national service program has been valuable in advancing their careers.
The findings come from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps. The report, the first of its kind in nearly a decade, documented how AmeriCorps alumni acquired skills and experiences that have helped them in the workplace and inspired their community involvement.
“AmeriCorps members are an indispensable resource for nonprofits, communities, and the individuals they serve,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “This report is further proof of what we already know: national service can be equally as rewarding for those who serve. While they serve others, AmeriCorps members also expand opportunity for themselves – gaining skills, experience, and college money to help them jumpstart their careers.”
AmeriCorps alumni surveyed indicated that there were substantial benefits to participating in AmeriCorps and that their service was a defining personal and professional experience.
- Nine out of 10 alumni agreed that they could solve difficult problems, accomplish goals, handle unexpected events and unforeseen situations, remain calm, and identify multiple solutions.
- Alumni rated their current skills as higher than prior to their AmeriCorps service, with the greatest gains found in their ability to handle unexpected events and unforeseen situations.
- Overall, 80 percent of alumni believe their service experience was valuable in advancing their careers.
The report also found that the majority of AmeriCorps alumni continue to serve their community after their service ends and report high levels of civic self-efficacy, or the ability to deal with community problems by taking action. Alumni also reported that their AmeriCorps experience increased their ability to work with individuals different from themselves. In addition, AmeriCorps alumni believe their service exposed them to new ideas and ways of seeing the world, and that during their term of service they learned more about the real world.
The report’s findings add to a growing chorus championing AmeriCorps, and other national service, alumni as exceptional job candidates. In 2014, as part of the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, President Obama announced Employers of National Service, a presidential initiative designed to build a talent pipeline, which connects AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni with leading employers.
Since its inception, more than 350 companies, nonprofits, and public agencies have signed on as Employers of National Service including Delta Air Lines, Disney, Comcast, MasterCard, NBC Universal, CSX, Sodexo, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the American Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity, the cities of Nashville, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, the states of Montana and Virginia, NASA, and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and State.
AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 members in intensive service annually to serve through nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations at 25,000 locations across the country through organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, City Year, Teach For America, YouthBuild, and Public Allies. These members help communities tackle pressing problems while mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve.
In exchange for a year of service, AmeriCorps members receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, currently equivalent to the amount of the Pell Grant, to pay for college or pay back students loans. A growing number of colleges and universities will match the AmeriCorps education award – in full, or in part, for students attending the university. In addition, AmeriCorps members can apply their year(s) of service toward the U.S. Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).
Since 1994, more than 980,000 Americans have provided more than 1.3 billion hours of service to their communities and country through AmeriCorps, earning more than $3.1 billion in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards.