New Tucson AmeriCorps Project to Improve Graduation Rates and Create Opportunities for High School Seniors

Apr 8, 2015

More than 100 AmeriCorps members to improve postgraduate opportunities for graduating seniors at eight area high-schools

TUCSON, ARIZ. –The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps program, today announced that Tucson will be one of 10 communities nationwide to become part of the new Operation AmeriCorps initiative.

The project is supported by the City of Tucson Mayor’s Office and Arizona Serve, a project of Prescott College, and funded through the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, which will provide oversight and support from the state level.

“I commend the City of Tucson and all its partners for being a trailblazer,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  “Through this Operation AmeriCorps project, we will make sure more students graduate from high school, gain access to higher education, get job training, or serve our country through the military or AmeriCorps.”

Eight high schools will be a part of Tucson’s Operation AmeriCorps project: Catalina High School, Desert View High School, Flowing Wells High School, Palo Verde High Magnet School, Pueblo Magnet High School, Santa Rita High School, Sentinel Peak High School, and the S.T.A.R. Academic Center.

60 AmeriCorps members will begin serving at these schools this fall. Another cohort will begin in the fall of 2016, as part of a two-year commitment to improve graduation rates and ensure every graduating senior is connected with one of five identified postgraduate opportunities: post-secondary education at a two- or four-year college; employment; military service; national service, such as AmeriCorps; or a paid internship, registered apprenticeship, or job training program. AmeriCorps members will also help recruit and manage thousands of additional volunteers who will provide additional tutoring, mentoring, and assistance services.

“I’m delighted that we were awarded this grant,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “I’ve focused on building a healthy community and this grant, and community schools, will help put students and their families in touch with the services they need to thrive.”

The City of Tucson is the second 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.  Additional Operation AmeriCorps grantees will be announced later this month.

The federal agency’s two-year investment of up to $1.4 million, including program funding and college scholarships valued at $5,730 for AmeriCorps members, is projected to generate an additional $600,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, making a total investment worth more than $2 million.

CNCS CEO Spencer and Mayor Rothschild made the announcement at an event celebrating Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service, a nationwide bipartisan effort to recognize the positive impact of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps and thank those who serve.  Across the country, more than 2,630 mayors and county officials are participating in this third annual recognition day.  Altogether, these elected officials represent more than 149 million Americans, nearly half the U.S. population.

The City of Tucson also announced their pledge to become an Employer of National Service, committing to take steps to encourage AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni to apply for careers with the city.

The University of Arizona and Prescott College, who also pledged to become Employers of National Service, announced new benefits for AmeriCorps alumni attending their universities. Both schools will now match the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, a benefit AmeriCorps members receive at the completion of their service. This award is tied to the Pell Grant, currently valued at $5,730, and can be used for further schooling or to pay back student loans. The University of Arizona will provide an additional $5,000 to students using the education award; Prescott College will provide a dollar for dollar match.

The Operation AmeriCorps funding builds on CNCS’ existing investment of $18 million in communities across Arizona. These federal dollars leverage an additional $5.5 million in other resources. This funding makes it possible for more than 3,400 AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers to serve at more than 770 locations in the state.

These citizens tutor and mentor children, support veterans and military families, provide health services, restore the environment, and more. Thousands of participants serve in schools including Foster Grandparents, RSVP volunteers, and AmeriCorps members serving through Pima Community College Adult and Family Literacy Corps, the University of Arizona’s Wildcat Corps, Pima Prevention Partnership’s The Partnership AmeriCorps Project, Literacy Connects, Make Way for Books, the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, and other organizations. 


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