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Combating Poverty through Partnerships

March 2, 2015

headshotToday’s guest blog comes to us from Caleb Jonas, an AmeriCorps alumnus and former director of the City of St. Paul (MN) AmeriCorps VISTA Program. Caleb also served in New Sector’s Summer AmeriCorps Fellowship. He is currently the Program Manager for SamaUSA, a nonprofit that combats poverty by training low-income Americans to earn and succeed in digital work.

The time I spent as an AmeriCorps VISTA member fresh out of college taught me two lessons that have guided my career ever since. The first of these is the enduring truth that anti-poverty organizations are most effective when they work together. The second is the value of approaching an initiative or project with a conscious intent to design, test, and revise it over time.

I began my year of VISTA service on what my supervisor called a “listening tour” of entities providing tutoring services in St. Paul, Minnesota. While my friends in direct service AmeriCorps roles spoke about the rewards of supporting low-income high school students in earning college acceptances, I grew frustrated by the hours I’d spent in church basements and community centers listening to the needs and concerns of tutoring program directors and coordinators.

When I approached my supervisor asking when I might be able to start making a “real impact,” she told me that “we can only push back poverty by building partnerships, and we can only build partnerships by understanding others.” Though I did not find these words immediately comforting, they came to define my VISTA experience and subsequent career in anti-poverty work. Read more…

Pursue Your Social Justice Career at Brandeis University’s Heller School

February 25, 2015

Brandeis logo with border smallToday’s blog is sponsored by Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management and is written by City Year AmeriCorps alum Calla Mattox. The Heller School offers a guaranteed minimum 40% tuition scholarship for all AmeriCorps alumni enrolled in one of their programs.

Mattox City YearMy name is Calla, and I am a proud City Year AmeriCorps alum. Like many of you, I knew I wanted to give back to my community for a year after college. I ended up doing a term of City Year in Providence, Rhode Island. One year became three, and I then served as a Community Partner and Donor Relations AmeriCorps VISTA with Rhode Island Free Clinic, a nonprofit that provides free comprehensive health care to uninsured, low-income adults.

The organization was doing great work, but I realized more and more that I didn’t have the skills I needed to take the next step in my career. I wanted to be able to help the organization to be more efficient and effective in their work, but I wasn’t ready to manage a budget or people. I began searching for a graduate school that would value my AmeriCorps experience and give me the opportunity to develop the skills I needed to make a greater impact.

These days, I’m a first-year student at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Why Heller? Well, for starters, the Heller School offers a guaranteed minimum 40% tuition scholarship for all AmeriCorps alumni enrolled in one of their programs. Read more…

AmeriCorps Alums Celebrates AmeriCorps VISTA with Awards

February 23, 2015

PrintFifty years ago, the first Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) joined what is now a long legacy that proves a committed group of volunteers can make a tangible difference. There are more than 7,000 AmeriCorps VISTA members today who serve each year in 4,000 communities and projects across the nation. Since the program began, 190,000 VISTA alums have helped to bring communities out of poverty. In honor of the 50th anniversary of VISTA, we are proud to celebrate their impact by honoring five alumni with an AmeriCorps Alums National Leadership Award. Read more…

Honoring Friends of Service

February 20, 2015

voices logoToday’s guest blog is from AnnMaura Connolly, President of Voices for National Service and AmeriCorps Alums Founder’s Club Steering Committee Member. 

What a week for national service! Last Tuesday, we honored a diverse group of extraordinary heroes for the national service movement. From members of Congress, governors and mayors from both sides of the political aisle to CEOs and private citizens, each of the remarkable champions honored deserves our gratitude.

Thank you to all of you who joined us in person to honor these outstanding champions for national service, demonstrating the strength and breadth of our movement.

Photography by Wade Chi Voices 2015 Jamiel and Nicole

AmeriCorps Alums Jamiel L. Alexander and Nicole Schmidt (center) win National Service Advocate of the Year Awards. Photography by Wade Chi.

Click on the picture above to see more pictures of honorees and sponsors.

Read more…

Develop Your Skills, Be Open to Opportunity, and Find Your Career

February 17, 2015

Smith.NicholasToday’s guest blog comes to us from AmeriCorps alum Nick Smith (Citizen Action AmeriCorps program, 2004 and 2005). He previously also worked as a Case Manager for the United Way’s Hurricane Katrina Response Program, received his M.A. in International Affairs from The New School, and became a Municipal Development Volunteer in Peace Corps Guatemala.

Most recently he worked as both a Technical Advisor and Regional Coordinator for the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program administered by the South Sudan Ministry of Health and supported by The Carter Center. This blog is the seventh and final in our International Careers Series sponsored by IPSL that profiles leading alumni of AmeriCorps working in international and intercultural careers.

While I have always been interested in working abroad, I never really envisioned myself working in public health. I definitely never expected to be working for the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program without any prior education or specific experience in public health.

Nick dancing at a community meeting in South Sudan

Nick dancing at a community meeting in the South Sudan

Yet from my work in the South Sudan, I have realized that international public health is a large sector. A variety of people with different educational backgrounds and professional experience work together in programs that treat, prevent and eradicate a myriad of diseases and promote the overall health and well-being of everyone.

Not only did I discover that I could find a place in public health, I realized AmeriCorps had already laid the groundwork for my international work. Read more…

5 Reasons to Date an AmeriCorps Alum

February 14, 2015

Today’s guest post comes  from AmeriCorps alum, Ken Tran, and is updated from his blog published with us on February 13, 2012. Ken previously served as AmeriCorps Alums’ External Relations Coordinator. Ken now works as the Social Media Coordinator for Equinox. 

Valentine’s Day/ Singles Awareness Day is tomorrow and it’s a holiday that resonates well in our hearts at AmeriCorps Alums. The chocolates, roses, and cards are all great, but what we really LOVE is seeing the service that’s continued to be modeled by our alums. We give back to the country that we love and continue to serve because we love to do it.

Along the way, some of us even met our future partner from serving side by side during our service years. Obviously, with all of our skills and service experiences under our belts,  AmeriCorps alums make GREAT dates.

Still got that special someone in your eye, but don’t know how to sell your amazing assets to them? Don’t want to spend this holiday all by yourself? No worries! We’ve found the top 5 reasons that’ll make your AmeriCorps service jumpstart your love life.

Here are the top 5 reasons to date an AmeriCorps alum this Valentine’s Day: Read more…

What AmeriCorps Taught Me about Love

February 10, 2015

Photo Credit: Smith Center for Healing and the Arts

Today’s guest blog comes to us from AmeriCorps alum, Caitlin Morneau. Caitlin began serving in 2008 as an AmeriCorps Summer Servant with Bethlehem Farm, a member program of Catholic Volunteer Network. She is now the Operations Coordinator at the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.

My love story with AmeriCorps didn’t start in a movie theater or a restaurant, but on a farm in rural Appalachia. We first met while repairing homes with Bethlehem Farm.

Summer 2009 Caitlin brought hubby to Behlehem Farm

Caitlin brings her husband Aaron to Bethlehem Farm where she first served.

We got serious when I served as a caseworker at a homeless shelter through Catholic Charities Project SERVE. We went on wild adventures to college campuses across the country recruiting for Catholic Volunteer Network. We drew closer each day when I worked as a Program Assistant for the Catholic Volunteer Network AmeriCorps grant. And we walk side by side each day in my journey as a proud AmeriCorps Alum. Read more…


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