Special Initiatives

2011 Service Impact Award Recipients

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) seeks to learn about important innovations using service to impact key issues. These best practices in solution driven service help to further the agency’s mission while recognizing outstanding impact in communities accomplished through service and volunteering. The 2011 Service Impact awardees included grantees, strategic partners and service participants that exemplify the best in national and community service in the key issue areas of the Serve America Act and disaster services.

2011 Service Impact Award Recipients

Education | Disaster Services | Healthy Futures | Economic Opportunity | Environmental Stewardship | Veterans and Military Families


Experience Corps

The Experience Corps vision is simple but profound: “Older adults in service to children are an integral part of the education strategy across America. Through this generational exchange, children succeed, older adults thrive, and communities are made stronger.”

Experience Corps is an award-winning program that engages older adults to serve as academic mentors and tutors for school-aged children in 21 cities nationwide. Experience Corps seeks to improve the academic achievement of students by providing literacy instruction matched to their needs through one-to-one tutoring and classroom assistance.

Targeting urban schools that draw from low-income neighborhoods, the program has been proven to improve academic outcomes and address the achievement gap.

Experience Corps taps into the experience and passion of older Americans to ensure that every child has a chance to succeed in school and in life. The program’s intergenerational exchange model creates a triple win in communities for students, schools, and older adults.

2011 Service Impact Award winner: The Cesar Chavez Foundation - Si Se Puede Learning Center

The Cesar Chavez Foundation – Si Se Puede Learning Center

In 1966, civil rights activist, Cesar E. Chavez, rallied pacifists, dreamers, and workers to peacefully fight against brutal working conditions for migrant farm workers with the chant “Sí Se Puede!”--Yes, It can be done! In 2010, this chant is heard throughout the 16 Sí Se Puede Learning Centers where children are provided with educational opportunities to end the cycle of poverty.

The Sí Se Puede Learning Centers (SSPLC) are a project of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA provide members to its programs where they work directly with K-5 low-income students, focusing on math, literacy, technology, and self-esteem.

During the 2009 – 2010 year, students of SSPLC improved 78% in literature, 83% in math, 72% in behavior, and 75% in attendance.

The SSPLC is carrying on the work of Cesar Chavez to end poverty and most importantly, to ensure that our children have a safe, uplifting place to go to at the end of the day.

Disaster Services

2011 Service Impact Award winner: Norman Moeller, Missoula Aging Services RSVP

Norman Moeller, Missoula Aging Services RSVP

Norman Moeller, an RSVP volunteer since 2002, joined the RSVP Community Task Force (CTF) in 2007. The CTF links highly skilled and motivated volunteers with Missoula County agencies and local non-profits to increase capacity and address key community needs. Trained CTF Leaders, like Norm, provide volunteer management expertise.

Norm’s organizational and problem solving skills and his sense of humor quickly build trust, respect, and productive relationships with the organizations he serves.

In 2009, when the City-County Health Department needed help with H1N1 pandemic flu prevention efforts, Moeller organized hundreds of volunteers and played a major role at emergency immunization clinics. His efforts helped make more than 22,000 immunizations possible.

In 2008, Norm participated in Missoula County’s Mock Disaster Drill, coordinating the participation of dozens of volunteers. The drill allowed first-response organizations to practice and perfect their skills in a realistic simulation, resulting in recertification of Missoula’s two hospitals.

Norm’s leadership is inspiring and his dedication to service is extraordinary.

2011 Service Impact Award winner: The Red Cross Ready! Tennessee Rural Initiative

The Red Cross Ready! Tennessee Rural Initiative

Red Cross Ready! Tennessee Rural Initiative is an AmeriCorps VISTA project that places AmeriCorps VISTA members at American Red Cross chapters to work in rural and impoverished counties within Tennessee.

VISTAs on the project build partnerships and contacts within rural communities and identify facilities that could serve as post-impact disaster shelters.

The largest test of the Rural Initiative occurred during the Tennessee flood of May 2010. The flood was a 1,000-year disaster that affected Western and Central Tennessee. VISTAs on the project had been building disaster relief capacity in the affected areas and were prepared to respond.

Throughout the event, VISTAs managed shelters, coordinated volunteers, excelled at partner services, and helped people who had lost everything. They were heroes. The set of practices developed by the VISTAs during the flood have been put to use during subsequent disasters. The impact of the AmeriCorps VISTAs who served with the Red Cross Ready! Tennessee Rural Initiative is immeasurable.

Healthy Futures

2011 Service Impact Award winner: Juliana Chosana Ko

Juliana Chosana Ko

Suicides, fueled by poverty, substance abuse, and despair, are a growing concern in Indian Country. Between 2009 and 2010, 15 suicides were reported on the Eastern Navajo Nation.

Juliana Ko, now an AmeriCorps alum who spent two years as a Teach For America math teacher at Thoreau Middle School on the edge of the Navajo Reservation, decided to do something about it.

After completing her two-year service commitment, Juliana founded the Thoreau Community Center as a safe place for students to go after school. The center now provides fitness, dance, and cooking classes; tutors to help students with their homework; a small computer lab; and weekly movie nights as well as services for adult community members.

Thanks to Juliana Ko, the Thoreau Community Center has become an essential resource for the community, and has helped improve the lives of many at-risk students.

Economic Opportunity

2011 Service Impact Award winner: ReSource YouthBuild, Burlington, VT

ReSource YouthBuild, Burlington, VT

Resource YouthBuild is an AmeriCorps program offering at-risk, high school drop-outs a combination of academics, community service, and job training skills while they build affordable housing for low-income Vermonters.

This unique program provides young people valuable construction experience while they learn energy efficiency skills. In recent years, the program has emerged as a leader in environmental stewardship.

Through its deconstruction service, young people are engaged in the recycling and marketing of building materials into household products. Its Building Material Center retail store offers no or low-cost materials to low income individuals and non-profit organizations and offers education and training opportunities to unemployed or under-employed individuals in the areas of office management, retail, and maintenance.

In 2009 alone, ReSource completed 15 full deconstructions and diverted more than 1,010 tons of materials from landfills. The Building Material Retail Store sold or donated 833 doors, 331 windows, 68,000 linear feet of lumber, and 265 light fixtures.

Environmental Stewardship

2011 Service Impact Award winner: Earl Millett, Jr.

Earl Millett, Jr.

For more than a decade, Earl Millett, Jr. has touched the lives of thousands of people through his volunteer service with AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and now as the Volunteer Director of Civic Works, a Baltimore AmeriCorps program dedicated to engaging at-risk youth in community service, particularly projects that promote energy efficiency and environmental improvement.

Earl began his career in service in 2000 when he joined AmeriCorps as a full-time member serving with Volunteer Maryland. While there, he helped establish a volunteer program at Garden Harvest, a Maryland organic farm that donates its produce to soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

He joined the Peace Corps in 2003, spending two years in Ecuador working on various environmental projects.

In 2005, Earl joined Crisis Corps (now called Peace Corps Response) and was assigned to St. Bernard’s parish in New Orleans to aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Earl’s global service and contributions to environmental stewardship make him an inspiration to us all.

2011 Service Impact Award winner: Grace Hill Settlement House AmeriCorps Ranger Project

Grace Hill Settlement House AmeriCorps Ranger Project

Since 1994, Grace Hill AmeriCorps has led the development and environmental restoration of the Riverfront Trail, St. Louis’ premier 12-mile bike and greenway. The project has also strengthened impoverished North City riverside communities, reinforced community responsibility, and provided educational and financial opportunities to its residents.

Rangers are active in promoting environmental health, cultural history, and their role in serving the community. Over the past 2 years, Rangers led 627 volunteers to plant over 10,000 wildflowers and grasses and spread switchgrass seed over 15 acres along the Mississippi. Rangers have also partnered with companies to reduce pollution in a community area with the highest asthma rates in the country.

AmeriCorps Rangers are primarily selected from the community in which they serve to build the leaders of tomorrow in neighborhood areas that need strengthening. In 2010, the Grace Hill AmeriCorps Trail Ranger Project was named one of the most innovative State AmeriCorps programs in the United States.

Veterans and Military Families

2011 Service Impact Award winner: RSVP Members at VFW Post 1739, Belleville, IL

RSVP Members at VFW Post 1739, Belleville, IL

For many American veterans, service to their country and their communities has become a way of life. That is certainly the case for a group of veterans from VFW Post 1739, in Belleville, IL, who are also members of the RSVP program, serving St. Clair and Madison Counties.

Aided by Auxiliary member Grace Moon, Commander Daniel W. Joergensen, Howard Bateman, Daniel Buentgen, and Robert Simonds are Vietnam Vets and active members of RSVP who have dedicated their retirement years to helping less fortunate veterans and active service members. They also serve the greater community through education, environmental causes, transportation and the Home Delivered Meal program.

From sending care packages to service men and women stationed oversees, to providing veterans with needed trips to the doctor, this group of veterans is an excellent example of people supporting their communities through RSVP and making the world a better place to live, one day at a time.

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