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When the Road You Need Isn’t Found on a Map…

March 31, 2015

headshot mandyToday’s guest blog comes from Mandy Zoelzer who served with AmeriCorps VISTA in 2014 at the Mission: St. Louis and is now on staff as their Communications Coordinator. Mandy is also the Chapter Leader of the AmeriCorps Alums St. Louis Chapter. Alums can connect with the chapter on Facebook or by emailing Mandy.

Lost on the road, there’s an app for that. About to graduate from school with no clue where to head next? That app’s still in development.

I had just come back to the states after living in Australia for a year and had one wish – grow up and have a boring career job. I loved school, but I was graduating soon without a clue where to head next. My brother suggested AmeriCorps, a program I’d never heard of.

Late one night, I scoured the AmeriCorps position listings and applied for two. Both contacted me, and soon I was signing a contract for a Communications Coordinator position. I’d be planning events, fundraising and managing donor relations. Things I had never imagined doing. Read more…

A Star is Born: AmeriCorps in Hollywood!

March 26, 2015

What was the best release out of Hollywood this week? We’ll give you two clues. It involves AmeriCorps and ninjas.

AmeriCorps Alums Co-Executive Director Mary Bruce was in Hollywood on Monday for the ground-breaking Serve A Year campaign launch with ServiceNation, Jimmy Kimmel, and Chelsea Clinton. A long-term effort to inspire millions of young Americans to serve a year in programs like AmeriCorps, Serve a Year aims to make a service year after high school or college the expectation, not the exception.

National Ninja Warrior Squad YouTube snip

Read more…

You’ve Changed the World, and the World has Changed You. Now What?

March 24, 2015


Today’s blog is sponsored by Antioch University Seattle and is written by Lauren Mehl, the executive assistant to Antioch’s president. Lauren served with AmeriCorps from 2007-2008 in Seattle. Antioch University recognizes the important contributions alumni made through AmeriCorps service and offers two service-specific scholarships. The University honors that dedication to service by offering a Master’s degree in Management and Leadership designed to integrate the rich experiences and insights  gained in AmeriCorps with new practical skills and knowledge designed to help AmeriCorps alums advance to their next career level.

lauren1When I enrolled to serve with the Notre Dame AmeriCorps Seattle team at a tutoring center in a housing authority neighborhood, I really had no idea what I was getting into. In my service placement, I problem-solved, made mistakes, developed relationships and meaningful connections, and grew as a person and leader.

The years I spent serving in AmeriCorps improved my self- confidence and set the course of my professional life. Since my time with AmeriCorps, I’ve been a director for an AmeriCorps team, spent two years as a housing manager for a nonprofit, and I currently work as the Executive Assistant to the President at Antioch University Seattle, a non-profit and fully accredited institution with a long history of being at the forefront of educational innovation and social justice.

Here at AUS, my service experience has led to my involvement in launching a new Master’s program in Management and Leadership, designed specifically for those who have served in AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, the U.S. armed forces, and other service organizations. As someone who has been profoundly changed by the community I served during AmeriCorps, I’m proud to be a part of an education program that values my service experience, utilizes the skills and knowledge I gained, and leverages them to propel me on my career path. I have never been so ready to finally take the leap to earn my master’s degree, especially with a program that has benefiting others and the world at its heart. Read more…

Why Persistence Beats Enthusiasm

March 19, 2015

HeadshotToday’s guest blog is by Amanda Salapong. Amanda recently graduated from the University of California, Merced, and decided to spend her time before graduate school actively developing as a global citizen. She moved from Los Angeles to Miami to start serving with City Year Miami, where she has been serving for the past eight months. Amanda hopes to continue with another year of service and a career in the nonprofit sector. 

I started my service with City Year full of excitement and motivation. I was ready to change the world in just 10 months. When I got to the midpoint of my service, however, I realized I had been sprinting to the finish line of a marathon. By mile thirteen, I was ready for a new pair of shoes and a Powerbar. Read more…

Change the Odds for Children, Youth, and Families

March 17, 2015

When faced with social, economic, and educational inequities, could you beat the odds? Leading advocates of children, youth, and families are working to change those odds instead.

Yesterday, AmeriCorps Alums hosted an online discussion guided by three alumni leaders supporting kids, youth, and families. Learn more about our panelists, discover key insights shared during our webinar, and explore recommended resources from our guest speakers. You can also click here to catch up on our whole conversation.

Dr. Dayna Long

Dr. Dayna Long

Key Insights

  • “Improving life and health outcomes starts from the first minute of life.”
  • “What is the biology of adversity? Being poor affects biology. How do we build resilience and support brain development early on in life?”
  • Improving health outcomes for low-income families also means supporting their social and emotional needs as well as their health needs. Click here to read how Dayna does this as the founder of FIND.

Read more…

Why We’re Still Talking about #SkeletonVideo

March 13, 2015

Today’s blog is a reflection from AmeriCorps Alums Co-Executive Directors Mary Bruce & Ben Duda.

Have you seen the #skeletonvideo? We’re guessing you have, since it’s already been viewed nearly 45 million times, so far. 45 million! (It’s okay if you haven’t. We won’t tell. Just go watch it now and come right back!)

The #skeletonvideo has a catchy tune and an important message. It spurred interesting conversations in our office – and we’re guessing yours. Besides debating which skeleton had the best dance moves (min 1:07), much more of the conversation was about equity & equality.

How can we carry the joy of this video into the communities where we live and work? And how does the spirit of the video confront the real tensions and hard realities we’re facing as a country and a global community? Read more…

Living as a Seed of Hope during and after AmeriCorps

March 12, 2015

sondra samuels headshot 400 X 400Today’s guest blog comes to us from Sondra Samuels and originally appeared on Huffington Post on March, 11, 2015 in partnership with The Franklin Project at The Aspen Institute. Sondra serves as the President and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ). She is leading a revolutionary culture shift in North Minneapolis, focused on ending multigenerational poverty through education. Sondra served in AmeriCorps in 1994 as part of the Justice Department’s Weed-n-Seed Initiative and is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. She recently received an AmeriCorps Alums National Leadership Award in recognition of her commitment to a lifetime of service.

Today, the economic, educational, political and proximity gaps between the haves and have nots is widening. Far too many low-income people, who are often people of color, are isolated and disconnected from opportunities for upward mobility. Who is accountable for improving the lives of low-income people of color for whom the American dream has been denied?

Of course each individual is responsible for his or her own success, but we cannot do it alone. We need each other more than ever now. Read more…


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