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August 25, 2016

AmeriCorps and Reading Partners expand collaborative service partnership

I have just begun my second year of service with Reading Partners. During my first year, I served in my home town as an AmeriCorps site coordinator at Hyde Leadership Charter School in the South Bronx. My role was to ensure that Reading Partners volunteers received continuous training and support in order to achieve educational success through literacy.

In the 2016-17 school year, Reading Partners will welcome over 360 AmeriCorps and VISTA members to continue this work. Reading Partners has been awarded more than $4.5 million in AmeriCorps funds across 14 cities in the US.  These essential funds allow us to have more people serving in our communities than ever before—which translates to more students gaining the literacy skills they need to be successful. Since 2010, over 600 Reading Partners AmeriCorps members have supported 10,000 students with tutoring, coordinated 208 Reading Centers, and engaged with 13,000 community volunteers to improve student literacy rates.  

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In my second year of service I will serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA focusing on building a pipeline of partners for diversity recruitment. VISTAs (Volunteers In Service To America) provide capacity building projects to nonprofit organizations.  I want more people, like me, to serve in the communities they are from and make a difference to the students they once were. I will also have an opportunity to develop a Reading Partners AmeriCorps and VISTA alumni platform that will allow former members to engage with the organization after their service year (or two!) is complete.

I am often asked why I am doing another year of service—“Isn’t it time you get a real job?” But the professional experience I have received during my time at Reading Partners goes far beyond what my peers are doing in their “real jobs.” Aside from the formal training which included a month of on-boarding and twice-monthly professional development, my greatest development came from establishing myself as a leader within the school. I worked to establish open lines of communication with school staff in order to develop data-sharing protocols so we can best serve students.

As Reading Partners continues to grow its relationship with AmeriCorps, I am excited to know that I am part of two incredible movements. The first is with Reading Partners, which mobilizes communities to provide students in underserved schools with the proven, individualized reading support they need to be able to read at grade level by fourth grade. The second is with AmeriCorps, which will welcome its one millionth member in 2016 to help make the world a better place: help children learn, protect the environment, or bring needed services to a low-income community. It is with great pride and a passion for creating opportunities for students in low-income communities that I recommit myself to Reading Partners and AmeriCorps this year.

Reading Partners would like to thank and acknowledge the following AmeriCorps State and National Commissions for their partnership: the Corporation for National and Community Service—National Direct, the OneStar Foundation (Texas), CaliforniaVolunteers, New York Volunteers, Serve DC, United Way Association of South Carolina, and the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (Maryland).

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