New AmeriCorps Project to Put East St. Louis Youth on Pathway to Academic and Career Success

Jun 10, 2015

Operation AmeriCorps will support 200 AmeriCorps members over two years

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, today announced that East St. Louis will be one of 10 communities nationwide to become part of the agency’s new Operation AmeriCorps initiative.

The East St. Louis School District, in collaboration with local community partners, will support 202 AmeriCorps members over the next two years to prepare students for academic and career success.

Starting in August, 85 AmeriCorps members will provide academic support and in- and out-of-school summer services to children in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. AmeriCorps members will also recruit volunteers to serve as mentors and career coaches. In addition, six AmeriCorps VISTA members will implement a city-wide College and Career Pathways program, focused on improving academic achievement and college and career planning. A team of 20 AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) will participate in a program that will include academic, recreation, and service learning projects for three months over the summer.

“I salute East St. Louis for its visionary program that will have a significant impact on the community and its young people,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Through Operation AmeriCorps, the East St. Louis School District will receive support and critical resources needed to ensure students are able to succeed academically and in their future careers.”  

"We are pleased to be named one of 10 communities nationwide to be selected for the new Operation AmeriCorps initiative,” said East St. Louis School District Superintendent Arthur Culver. “This grant allows us to strengthen our relationship with the after-school providers and higher education partners in our community. Together, we will provide students with an opportunity to acquire knowledge that will enhance their academic experience. Operation AmeriCorps ultimately provides youth with additional support to ensure their success as they pursue opportunities beyond the classroom." 

The project is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service through Serve Illinois, the Governor-appointed state service commission in Illinois.  Serve Illinois, which is housed in the Illinois Department of Public Health, will provide oversight and support from the state level.

“Illinois is fortunate to have thousands of volunteers who donate their time and talents to help others improve education, public health, safety, the environment, disaster preparedness and economic development,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.  “When communities volunteer, we see an increase in economic strength and education, and a decrease in crime.  These programs can help turnaround troubled areas and strengthen Illinois one community at a time.”

East St. Louis School District is the seventh organization in the nation to receive Operation AmeriCorps funding, an initiative launched by CNCS last fall for local and tribal governments to use national service as a transformative catalyst to address a high priority community challenge.  Previously announced Operation AmeriCorps grantees include Salt Lake County, Utah; New York City; Tucson, AZ; Flint, MI; Pawtucket, RI; and Bloomfield, Iowa. Additional Operation AmeriCorps grantees will be announced later this month.

The federal agency’s investment includes $1,309,988 in AmeriCorps funding over two years, contingent on appropriations and performance. In addition, AmeriCorps members completing their service are eligible to earn a total of $455,576 in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards to pay for higher education or pay back student loans.  This federal investment of $1,765,564 is projected to generate an additional $379,544 in local cash and in-kind matching contributions, bringing the total two-year investment of federal and local funds to more than $2.1 million.

The Operation AmeriCorps funding builds on CNCS’ existing investment of $38 million in communities across Illinois. These federal dollars leverage an additional $15.6 million in other resources. This funding supports more than 15,000 AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers serving at nearly 2,000 locations in the state. These national service participants across the state tutor and mentor children, support veterans and military families, provide health services, restore the environment, and more.

The program will begin recruiting individuals for these new AmeriCorps positions that will start next fall. These full-time AmeriCorps positions provide a living allowance, training, a college scholarship, and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of East St. Louis residents. 

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