Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of 52 of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps Programs in the United States

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1 Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of 52 of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps Programs in the United States A report by America s Service Commissions and Innovations in Civic Participation June 2010

2 Acknowledgements: ASC and ICP would like to thank the Advisory Committee for their time, effort and guidance in developing this publication. Thank you also to state service commissions for nominating programs, answering all of our questions and your support. Thank you to ASC Board Chair Bill Basl, Executive Director Tom Branen, and Public Policy Manager Joe Gersen, ICP Executive Director Susan Stroud and interns Caitlin O Donnell and Sara Danver for their efforts in preparing this report. Project Coordinators: Christy Venable, America s Service Commissions (ASC) Colleen Hammelman, Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) Advisory Committee: Rachel Chadderdon, Executive Director, ServeWyoming Maryalice Crofton, Executive Director, Maine Commission for Community Service Lisa Frederick, Program Director, Massachusetts Service Alliance Bryan Guiot, Assistant Director, Nevada Volunteers Kristin Honz, Program Officer, Iowa Volunteers Brian Lock, Assistant Director, Washington Commission for National and Community Service Circe Olander, Assistant Director, CaliforniaVolunteers Jim Snell, Executive Director, Volunteer Tennessee Gene Sofer, Susquehanna Group Audrey Suker, Executive Director, ServeMinnesota Chuck Supple, former Director of California Service Corps Gregory Webb, Executive Director, New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism About Innovations in Civic Participation Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) is a non-profit organization supporting the development of innovative high-quality youth civic engagement policies and programs both in the US and around the world. ICP is a leader in the global movement to promote sustainable development and social change through youth civic engagement. We embrace a positive view of young people that recognizes their potential to create beneficial and lasting social change in their communities through active participation in service opportunities. About America s Service Commissions America s Service Commissions (also known as the American Association of State Service Commissions - ASC) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization representing and promoting state service commissions across the United States. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,110 commissioners. The nation's 53 state service commissions operate at the state and local level granting more than $260 million in AmeriCorps funds while matching these federal dollars with over $32 million from state and local sources to support citizen service and volunteerism in America. Innovations in Civic Participation 1776 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 201 Washington, DC America s Service Commissions 1875 K St NW 5th Floor Washington DC

3 Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of 52 of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps*State Programs in the United States A report by America s Service Commissions and Innovations in Civic Participation June 2010

4 UThe AmeriCorps Pledge 0BTable of Contents Foreword ii Introduction iii Program directory by focus area v Program directory by state vi Program profiles 1 Education 1 Environment 29 Health 49 Public Safety 59 Human Need 69 Multi-Focus, Other 91 I will get things done for America - to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier. I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities. Faced with apathy, I will take action. Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground. Faced with adversity, I will persevere. I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond. I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done. i T ransforming Communities through Service

5 1BForeword Dear Friends of National Service, Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) and America s Service Commissions (ASC) are proud to share the 2010 edition of Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of 52 of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps Programs in the United States. With a recent surge of interest in national service, many existing AmeriCorps*State programs have been lauded as highly successful and innovative. Yet, this information is not widely shared. State service commissions have therefore relied on word of mouth or chance workshops to learn how to create similar programs in their states. To address this, ICP and ASC are highlighting 52 innovative AmeriCorps*State programs from 39 states in this publication. State service commissions from Alabama to Wyoming shared their tremendously creative and meaningful AmeriCorps*State programs that are making a difference in the lives of Americans. We hope you will review this powerful tool and use it to educate others on AmeriCorps role in transforming communities nationwide through service. By sharing information about innovative programming, we hope to support the role of states as laboratories for service and to foster new strategies for addressing a variety of social issues. The breadth, creativity and contribution of these programs in communities throughout the US demonstrate that AmeriCorps Members are meeting a wide array of critical needs in effective and innovative ways. Whether a program recruits mentors, preserves our environment, helps children read, empowers persons with disabilities to serve, or provides direct assistance to at-risk, low-income seniors, AmeriCorps is getting things done. ICP and ASC would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Advisory Committee, as well as to the ICP and ASC staff who worked diligently to bring you this publication. We welcome you to read it, use it, share it, and let these innovative program examples inspire you and your work. Sincerely, Susan Stroud Executive Director Innovations in Civic Participation Tom Branen Executive Director America s Service Commissions ii

6 2BIntroduction The call to service is growing louder throughout the United States. From the passing of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and the White House s United We Serve initiative to AmeriCorps application rates that significantly exceed available positions, it is clear that in 2010 the national service movement in the US is gaining attention and making an important difference in people s lives. It is with this enthusiasm that we revisit our 2005 publication of innovative AmeriCorps programs to highlight some of the most innovative AmeriCorps*State programs tackling varied community needs and getting things done. Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) and America s Service Commissions (ASC) have gathered information about some of the most innovative AmeriCorps programs in the United States. By sharing this information with practitioners, policymakers, donors and the general public, we hope to highlight the innovative work of AmeriCorps Members nationwide, to create an educational tool and to encourage program replication. The Landscape of Successful AmeriCorps*State Programs in 2010 AmeriCorps was founded in 1993 as an innovative way to meet local community needs. AmeriCorps was designed to work from the bottom up and as such channels most of its funds to state service commissions, appointed by Governors, which award grants to groups meeting locally-determined needs in locally-determined ways. AmeriCorps Members help expand these groups reach and impact, but they don t dictate how to provide services or achieve the organization s mission. AmeriCorps also sought to strengthen communities and to improve the lives of members themselves, in part by offering AmeriCorps Education Awards to help those who serve pay for college or to pay off college loans. Over the years, grants have been made to thousands of organizations in every state of the union, as well as to Native American tribes and to groups in US territories. The breadth and diversity of programs supported is astounding. Each year AmeriCorps engages more than 70,000 Americans through service to more than 3,000 community-based organizations and public agencies. In 2005, ICP and ASC highlighted 51 programs from 38 states. As with this edition, the programs highlighted spanned a breadth of innovative programming across focus areas such as education, environment, health, public safety and unmet human needs. Of those 51 programs, 43 are still active AmeriCorps programs, although only seven programs highlighted in 2005 have returned in the 2010 publication. This illustrates that many innovative AmeriCorps programs are sustainable and that AmeriCorps is able to adapt and change according to today s needs. The programs identified in this publication are responding to critical needs in 2010 that include helping communities be more energy efficient, teaching technology literacy skills to adults and young people in Minnesota, and motivating kids to be active and learn about healthier eating habits in Ohio, to name a few examples. Each of these AmeriCorps projects utilizes service and volunteerism as a critical strategy to address community needs. This volunteer force multiplier approach enables many programs to be sustainable even during periods of economic downturn. A very critical element of this approach is the design of projects that purposely engages the talents and abilities of community volunteers so they can also contribute to the overall success of these endeavors. Most importantly, service and volunteerism enables all individuals to live up to the ideals of our founding fathers who believed that this new participatory form of government could rely on the support of an active citizenry to enable it to properly function. This renewed call to service helps bring in people of all ages and backgrounds to help solve our most critical issues of the day. These programs, some new and some old, are meeting real community needs and creating a lasting impact on communities and the AmeriCorps Members who serve. Throughout this publication, we share stories of success from the programs. We asked program nominators about the secrets to the programs success, and while each program is unique, there are some common characteristics across successful AmeriCorps programs. Many nominators pointed to the commitment of the AmeriCorps Members and program staff to the programs and the communities they serve. For example, Kitsap Community Resources (KCR) AmeriCorps in Washington engages former-military officers and former-senior enlisted as AmeriCorps staff members in its program focusing on education and human services for former members of the military and their families. As such, the program staff is committed to the community it serves, which is critical to the program s success. iii T ransforming Communities through Service Programs like these are a force multiplier; they leverage small numbers of members into thousands of volunteers. And we will focus their service toward solving today s most pressing challenges. And it (the Serve America Act) is just the beginning of a sustained, collaborative and focused effort to involve our greatest resource -- our citizens -- in the work of remaking this nation. - President Barack Obama at the signing of the Kennedy Serve America Act, April 21, 2009

7 Another characteristic that many of the programs highlighted in this publication attribute to their success, including KCR AmeriCorps, is being grounded in the communities they serve. Many successful programs recruit their AmeriCorps Members from the communities they serve allowing them to share an important perspective, to break down barriers in connecting with communities and to further their own development. For example, in Idaho the AmeriCorps Accessible Transportation Network develops and implements innovative strategies for inclusive and accessible transportation. The majority of its AmeriCorps Members has a disability and is personally impacted by a lack of accessible transportation in their communities. As such, their personal experiences ground the innovative solutions they develop and regularly create an exceptional commitment to the program s success. Finally, several innovative programs received grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to expand or adapt their programming. In Massachusetts, the Youth Star program launched a Young Moms Corps in July 2009 with the support of an ARRA AmeriCorps grant. The Young Moms Corps engages young mothers who provide information on health care access and health benefits programming serving the vast health care needs in their communities while also building important job skills and leadership training. The successful Young Moms Corps will continue in future years as it is folded into the Youth Star program when ARRA funding ends. These are just some of the keys to success for programs highlighted throughout the pages of this publication. We invite you to get to know all of the programs highlighted to learn from their success and to be inspired by their important community service. Our Method The following pages showcase 52 remarkable AmeriCorps programs in 39 states. Programs are grouped by the focus areas in which they serve and along similar lines of AmeriCorps priority focus areas identified in the Serve America Act. These areas include education, health, environment, human need, public safety and multi-focused programs. A program directory listing by state is also provided - although not every state was able to submit a program. Each profile provides a brief description, key innovative elements, contact information and examples of the program s success stories. The program overviews provide a brief snapshot into the activities of the innovative programs profiled. They are not intended to be fully comprehensive descriptions of the programs or all of their activities. We invite you to visit the programs websites and/or contact them to learn more about their initiatives. Each state service commission was asked to nominate at least one, but no more than two, of their most innovative programs. Each application was reviewed by at least three readers from the Advisory Committee. Traditionally, innovative is defined as something that has never been done or experienced before. This project utilized a more open and inclusive definition. A program could be innovative in that it is so successful, innovative in developing new service delivery strategies, innovative in its use of funding, innovative in its different partnerships. Each program includes at least two of the following elements: Lasting impact on Members, community, or state Meeting its outcomes/delivering meaningful service Exceptional and/or unique partnerships A real spirit of service Potential for replication in other states A strong record of compliance Cross-program connections (i.e. AmeriCorps working with Senior Corps, AmeriCorps working with nonnational service volunteer programs, etc) Outstanding volunteer and/or resource generation An active alumni group Creating systemic change in their area of work The variety and impact of the programs included in this publication is awe-inspiring. From mentoring children to patrolling public parks, national and community service programs are providing opportunities for citizens to play an active role in addressing community needs. We hope that practitioners will use the information in this publication to strengthen their own work, that policymakers and donors will be moved to increase their support for the field, and that everyone who reads these profiles will be inspired by the extraordinary tales of ordinary citizens transforming their communities through service. iv

8 3BProgram directory by focus area Education 1 Pima Adult and Family Literacy Program (AZ) 2 Urban Education Service Corps City/DPS 4 Collaborative (CO) Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County 6 (FL) Community Technology Empowerment Project 8 (MN) Minnesota Reading Corps (MN) 10 America Reads Mississippi (MS) 12 KEYS Service Corps - AmeriCorps (PA) 14 Amarillo Independent School District 16 AmeriCorps (TX) College Forward (TX) 18 Vermont Youth Development Corps 20 AmeriCorps*State Program (VT) VCU AmeriCorps and America Reads (VA) 22 North Olympic AmeriCorps Program (WA) 24 Schools of Hope Project (WI) 26 Environment 29 Green Crew (CT) 30 Georgia Sea Turtle Center AmeriCorps (GA) 32 Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps (HI) 34 Green Iowa AmeriCorps (IA) 36 Huron Pines AmeriCorps (MI) 38 Grace Hill AmeriCorps Trail Rangers (MO) 40 Nevada Conservation Corps (NV) 42 AmeriCorps Conservation Team (OR) 44 Vermont Housing and Conservation Board 46 AmeriCorps (VT) Health 49 Mid Delta Community Consortium (AR) 50 Project LINC (MS) 52 Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (OH) 54 Early Childhood Home Visitation Program 56 (TN) Public Safety 59 California JusticeCorps (CA) 60 Emergency Service Corps (DE) 62 Albany Police AmeriCorps (GA) 64 RISE AmeriCorps (NE) 66 Human Need 69 Hope for the Homeless (CA) 70 AmeriCorps Accessible Transportation 72 Network (ID) Each One Reach One AmeriCorps (IA) 74 SUCCESS Corps (KY) 76 VSA arts of New Mexico (NM) 78 Oklahoma Serves (OK) 80 Foothills AmeriCorps (SC) 82 Project TLC (TN) 84 Alternatives, Inc. Peninsula AmeriCorps 86 Serve and Support (VA) Wyoming Advocate Corps (WY) 88 Multi-Focus, Other 91 Employer s Child Care Alliance AmeriCorps 92 (AL) Latin American Youth Center (DC) 94 Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community 96 Development (IL) Civic Works Service Corps (MD) 98 Volunteer Maryland (MD) 100 Massachusetts Legal Assistance for Self- 102 Sufficiency Program (MA) Youth Star (MA) 104 Young Adult Service Corps (MT) 106 LFS AmeriCorps (NE) 108 Harlem Children s Zone (NY) 110 Project Heart/WellnessCorps (NC) 112 Kitsap Community Resources AmeriCorps 114 (WA) v T ransforming Communities through Service

9 4BProgram directory by state Alabama Employer s Child Care Alliance AmeriCorps 92 Arizona Pima Adult and Family Literacy Program 2 Arkansas Mid Delta Community Consortium 50 California California JusticeCorps 60 Hope for the Homeless 70 Colorado Urban Education Service Corps - City/DPS Collaborative Connecticut Green Crew 30 District of Columbia Latin American Youth Center 94 Delaware Emergency Service Corps 62 Florida Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County 6 Georgia Albany Police AmeriCorps 64 Georgia Sea Turtle Center AmeriCorps 32 Hawaii Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps 34 Idaho AmeriCorps Accessible Transportation Network 4 72 Iowa Each One Reach One AmeriCorps 74 Green Iowa AmeriCorps 36 Kentucky SUCCESS Corps 76 Maryland Civic Works Service Corps 98 Volunteer Maryland 100 Massachusetts Massachusetts Legal Assistance for Self- 102 Sufficiency Program Youth Star 104 Michigan Huron Pines AmeriCorps 38 Minnesota Community Technology Empowerment 8 Project Minnesota Reading Corps 10 Mississippi America Reads Mississippi 12 Project LINC 52 Missouri Grace Hill AmeriCorps Trail Rangers 40 Montana Young Adult Service Corps 106 Nebraska LFS AmeriCorps 108 RISE AmeriCorps 66 Nevada Nevada Conservation Corps 42 Illinois Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development 96 New Mexico VSA arts of New Mexico 78 vi

10 New York Harlem Children s Zone 110 North Carolina Project Heart/WellnessCorps 112 Ohio Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities 54 Oklahoma Oklahoma Serves 80 Oregon AmeriCorps Conservation Team 44 Pennsylvania KEYS Service Corps - AmeriCorps 14 South Carolina Foothills AmeriCorps 82 Tennessee Early Childhood Home Visitation Program 56 Project TLC 84 Texas Amarillo Independent School District 16 AmeriCorps College Forward 18 Vermont Vermont Housing and Conservation Board AmeriCorps Vermont Youth Development Corps AmeriCorps*State Program Virginia Alternatives, Inc. Peninsula AmeriCorps 86 Serve and Support VCU AmeriCorps and America Reads 22 Washington Kitsap Community Resources AmeriCorps 114 North Olympic AmeriCorps Program 24 Wisconsin Schools of Hope Project 26 Wyoming Wyoming Advocate Corps *All of the photos in this publication were provided by state commissions or program staff unless otherwise noted. Cover photos clockwise from left: College Forward (TX), Green Iowa AmeriCorps (IA) and Schools of Hope Project (WI). Opposite page photo: Harlem Children s Zone (NY). vii T ransforming Communities through Service

11

12 Program Profiles 5B 52 of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps*State Programs in the United States

13 Focus Area: Education Many AmeriCorps Members serve in educational capacities helping students and communities across the nation improve their literacy skills and learn needed skills and information (such as the KEYS Service Corps, AmeriCorps Program in Pennsylvania, pictured above). While all of the education programs highlighted are unique, one common model across some states is reading corps. Through reading corps, such as those in Minnesota, Mississippi and Virginia, Members in school and after-school settings tutor students and help them improve their literacy skills. Other programs in this model engage adult learners or provide education around important issue areas such as technology skills. All of these programs are successfully meeting the needs that are unique to their communities. 1

14 ARIZONA Pima Adult and Family Literacy Program Focus: Education, Human Need Issue Area: Adult Literacy UInnovative Elements Lasting impact on Members and community An active alumni group Creating systemic change Strong record of compliance UContact Information Arizona Commission on Service and Volunteerism Bob Shogren, Executive Director (602) Pima Adult and Family Literacy Program https://pima.edu/adulted/program s/familyliteracy.shtml Mary Ann Phinizy (520) Program Description The Pima Adult and Family Literacy Program brings English-language learning including literacy and tutoring to a distressed community area in Tucson. For 15 years, the program has helped entire families learn. Parents work toward earning a GED, improving English abilities, acquiring job skills and improving parenting skills. Parents and their children learn and attend classes together. AmeriCorps Members tutor adults in English as a Second Language and GED preparation, assist Adult Educators, tutor children in after-school programs, serve as computer assistant tutors, and serve as role models and leaders in their community. AmeriCorps Members also assist staff and students, tutor children, and share literacy techniques with parents. As a result of participation in the Family Literacy Program, parents and children are increasing their literacy skills, adults pursue GEDs and parents gain skills in interactive literacy with their children. A 2009 evaluation of the impact of AmeriCorps Members on the program showed that Members effectively contribute in important ways to the program s success. Program Innovations ULasting impact on Members and community The Pima Adult and Family Literacy Program is creating a lasting impact on the community it serves and the AmeriCorps Members that serve in the program. In the community, program participants are enabled to pursue their GEDs and continue on to college or vocational training. In one example, a participant received her GED and was then certified as a paraprofessional. She was later recognized as a national student for the National Center for Family Literacy in 2009 because of her success that was bolstered by participation in the Literacy Program. AmeriCorps Members in the program received extensive training in life skills, organizational skills, problem solving, team building, esprit de corps, leadership development, communication, conflict resolution, family literacy, scientificallybased reading instruction strategies, tutoring techniques for children and adults, public speaking, school protocol, mentoring skills, community resources, career-link interests, and establishing lifelong volunteering. This training prepares them to meet the needs in a classroom while also preparing them for future careers in education. UAn active alumni group An active alumni group stays connected to the program and supports recruitment of new members from the community the Literacy Program Serves. The program tries to recruit its AmeriCorps Members from its Family Literacy and Adult Education classrooms and in many instances, children of former students and AmeriCorps Members are now serving with the program. In 2009, the Family Literacy Program had three Members who were children of former adult education students and/or former AmeriCorps Members. In 2010, an aunt and sister of a former Member are serving in the program. This makes it easier for alumni to stay connected to the program and they often volunteer at the Literacy Program s service projects. 2 T ransforming Communities through Service

15 UCreating systemic change The Pima Adult and Family Literacy Program is making systemic change in its community by enabling participants to obtain GEDs, go on to college and create brighter futures for themselves and their families. The program has a strong commitment to building a resilient and healthy community. The Family Literacy Program removes the stigma attached to illiteracy while assisting community members in overcoming illiteracy. Since 2009, the program has recruited 485 families who have shown important gains in English language and literacy skills. The Family Literacy Program also teaches parents skills in interactive literacy with their children. Of 150 parents assessed, 97% made gains in their interactive literacy with their children, which benefits the whole family. Success Stories The Pima Adult and Family Literacy Program is particularly successful because it recruits AmeriCorps Members directly from the communities it serves. Often students of the program go on to serve as AmeriCorps Members and they are role models positively contributing to their communities. This means the Members have similar backgrounds to the students they serve, fostering trust between the students and AmeriCorps Members. Students report that their relationship and trust with the AmeriCorps Members is an important part of taking risks for learning. Through this relationship, students build more confidence and self esteem. Some students have expressed the importance of this relationship saying, She is one of us. She provides extra emotional support, always asking students how they are doing. She helps me get over my nervousness with GED and tutors me in math. She gives me more confidence to speak English. We can practice and learn new words. She encourages us to take risks, to speak using different strategies, like the Wordless Picture Books. She inspires us. - Family Literacy Program student about an AmeriCorps Member 3

16 COLORADO Urban Education Service Corps City of Denver/Denver Public Schools Collaborative Program Description Focus: Education Issue Area: Student Enrollment and Attendance UInnovative Elements Delivering meaningful service Exceptional partnerships Potential for replication UContact Information Colorado Governor's Commission on Community Service Toya Nelson, Executive Director (303) Urban Education Service Corps- City/DPS Collaborative /resource/city-dps-collaborative/ Roxanne Nice, Program Administrator (720) The goal of the Urban Education Service Corps City of Denver/Denver Public Schools (DPS) Collaborative is to increase student enrollment and attendance at selected Denver Public Schools. The Service Corps also reduces the drop-out rate and re-engages student dropouts in under performing schools by increasing parent and family engagement in the school community. AmeriCorps Members focus their efforts on increasing student attendance and retention; increasing student and parent engagement in school communities; and improving the quality of school choice and enrollment information. Working in conjunction with the DPS/City Coordination Project Manager, AmeriCorps Members collaborate with Resource Advocates who are employed full-time in several school communities to manage and coordinate community partnerships in schools. AmeriCorps Members also launched an outreach and school enrollment campaign at locations in targeted neighborhoods. With funding from the Colorado Governor s Commission on Community Service in 2009, the Urban Education Service Corps has been able to expand services into 32 additional Denver Public Schools. One innovative way Urban Education Corps Members and staff reach out to the community is through mobile, multi-site program initiatives. The programs use state of the art technology by providing a MiFi unit for AmeriCorps Members, community volunteers and parents to access school and city services, either from their home computers or by using one of the laptops at the tent site. Tents are used at special events and are set up in low-cost housing units, community centers and at partner sites such as Goodwill and Catholic Charities. Program Innovations UDelivering meaningful service The schools identified in the Collaborative serve communities that have traditionally been underserved. These communities include large numbers of non-english speakers, recent immigrants and refugees. Many families in these communities face economic, linguistic and cultural barriers that may prevent them from enrolling their students in schools. As a result, these schools face huge challenges in meeting enrollment goals outlined by the Denver Public School District. These schools are often forced to cut teachers and programming due to low enrollment rates. As such, AmeriCorps Members serving in these schools meet a real community need and enable the targeted schools to more rapidly and efficiently achieve their desired outcomes of increased enrollment, steady attendance rates, re-engagement of dropouts, and greater involvement of parents and families. UExceptional partnerships The Collaborative was established in December 2006 as a result of a joint initiative between Denver s Mayor, the DPS Superintendent, the Denver City Council and the DPS Board of Education. This unique partnership has enabled the Urban Education Service Corps to serve high-need communities with the support of various integral stakeholders. The Collaborative s structure enables students to experience a fresh infusion of resources, improve their academic performance and receive support for all aspects of their personal development. Moreover, it is increasing the engagement of their parents/caregivers in the school and community. 4 T ransforming Communities through Service

17 Additionally, a partnership was established in 2010 with the Denver Public School s Teacher Residency Program. This new program component allows first-year Teacher Residents to serve as part-time AmeriCorps Members and further support the district s goals to increase parent engagement in school communities. Teacher Residents will earn hours for projects developed to increased parent engagement in the classroom. Residents will also collaborate with full-time AmeriCorps Community Engagement Specialists on special projects at school sites. The partnership strives to create an AmeriCorps experience that carves out a path where Members can explore the field of community engagement and education during their first-year experience. In the second year, Members who are interested will be encouraged to apply to the Teacher Residency Program where they can embark on a path of becoming a full-time teacher with the school district. Success Stories The Urban Education Service Corps City of Denver/DPS Collaborative has successfully organized parents, students and volunteers to implement outreach and enrollment and school attendance campaigns; promote the use and availability of city programs and services in school communities; assist student dropouts and encourage re-enrollment; organize mobile school registration directly in communities; and engage families and communities in school environments. All of these efforts serve to increase student enrollment, attendance and achievement in Denver Public Schools. The success of this program is due, in part, to exceptional partnerships and the collaborative nature of the program engaging various government agencies, families and communities in the success of students. 5

18 FLORIDA Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County Program Description Focus: Education Issue Area: Tutoring UInnovative Elements Lasting impact on community Delivering meaningful service Exceptional partnerships UContact Information Volunteer Florida Wendy Spencer, Executive Director (850) Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County Audrey McDonough, Program Director, AmeriCorps (561) Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County provides literacy services to adults, children and youth at 26 locations throughout the Palm Beach community. Members teach and tutor people of all ages and serve as graduation coaches in local schools, library tutors and GED prep teachers. The program has served Palm Beach for two years under a dynamic program director and with a committed group of 25 energetic college graduates from across the country serving as AmeriCorps Members. The program boasts a 100% recruitment and retention rate. The Members annually serve 350 English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) adults who are functioning at the lowest levels of literacy, 300 children in afterschool programs and family literacy centers and 250 students at-risk of dropping out of school. They also recruit, train and support 150 literacy volunteers and organize Saturday service projects in collaboration with over 30 community organizations. Program Innovations ULasting impact on Members and community Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County is designed to have a lasting impact on everyone involved. AmeriCorps Members have opportunities to build leadership skills by organizing community service projects and coordinating Corps project such as the program newsletter and teambuilding trainings. Members summarize the impact of their service by writing articles in the Member newsletter, The Literati. The program also creates long-term impacts in the community by improving literacy rates among ESOL adults and at-risk students and children, helping them succeed in gaining employment and completing school. UExceptional partnerships Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County is currently supported by a coalition of eight foundations whose vision includes helping the organizations they already fund build capacity and extend services to populations that might otherwise not be served. The program is strongly supported with funding, partnerships and in-kind support from these foundations including the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, The Schmidt Family Foundation, The Toppel Family Foundation, the Asofsky foundation, The Quantum Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. One of the most impressive partnerships with the program is with local realtors who offer affordable housing to Members who come into the program from other states. This benefit allows the program staff to select the best qualified and most committed Members. 6 T ransforming Communities through Service

19 Success Stories The Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County is successfully meeting education needs in its community. An important contributing factor in its success is strong partnerships with influential foundations that have a vested interest in ensuring that the program is the best. That support helps open up doors for continued support and the sustainability of the program. The program also has strong volunteer recruitment and retention rates because of success in using social networking sites and the National Portal to recruit Members. Almost all of the AmeriCorps Members join the program from outside Florida and with these tools the program has a 100% recruitment and retention rate. 7

20 MINNESOTA Community Technology Empowerment Project Program Description Focus: Education, Economic Opportunity Issue Area: Technology Literacy UInnovative Elements Delivering meaningful service Exceptional partnerships Potential for replication UContact Information ServeMinnesota Audrey Suker, Executive Director (612) Community Technology Empowerment Project Joel Krogstad or Libby Caulum, Program Directors (651) The Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) AmeriCorps program places 30 Members in non-profits, libraries and other community agencies across the Twin Cities to help adults and youth acquire the technology literacy skills necessary to secure employment and to improve academically. Partner agencies are located in Empowerment Zone (lowincome) neighborhoods and in neighborhoods with a high concentration of recent immigrant and minority residents. CTEP AmeriCorps Members strengthen communities through providing a direct service teaching technology literacy; building agency capacity through program development and mobilizing volunteers within the community; and engaging in member-led group civic engagement projects related to bridging the digital divide. CTEP AmeriCorps has two specific Member position types focusing on economic opportunity and education. Economic Opportunity Members focus on teaching technology literacy skills to adults as they relate to obtaining employment and improving civic and social opportunities. These Members serve in a one-on-one capacity or in a classroom-type setting in formal train-to-work programs. They teach specific software skills, such as Microsoft Office, and teach workforce readiness classes geared toward English language learners using interactive software. In public housing facilities, Members help adult and senior residents file tax forms, participate in GED and other degree programs, and fill out online health care, employment and housing applications. The other half of CTEP Members focus on education with students in grades 6-12 in schools and after-school programs. Education Members help students achieve state and national academic standards by enhancing their learning with technology literacy instruction. Education Members assist youth with homework requiring technology, online research, and introduce skill-building programs in subjects such as math, reading and typing. Education Members recruit volunteers to provide one-on-one mentoring relationships with youth and help develop technological competency by encouraging youth media programming. Program Innovations UDelivering meaningful service CTEP is a program of Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, a nonprofit that empowers communities to connect with the emerging digital culture. Low-income and recent immigrant families as well as residents with disabilities need accessible, affordable technology programs to ensure access to critical health, education, employment and social service information. To meet this need, all CTEP Members help partner agencies increase their internal capacity, including program design and assessment, staff and volunteer training, volunteer recruiting and outreach efforts. CTEP Members begin their service year conducting a technology assessment at their site, which is used for fundraising, outreach and/or program evaluation. CTEP is also unique in Minnesota in that it requires all Members to participate in an extended, 75-hour group civic engagement project, in addition to five one-time civic engagement activities. Each CTEP member participates in a member-driven small group project that focuses on making a contribution to a community need related to digital inclusion. Projects have included creating an electronic waste public service announcement that has played on 8 T ransforming Communities through Service

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