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AmeriCorps Alums 2015 Leadership Forum

May 20, 2015

Ben and Mary StandingToday’s blog is written by AmeriCorps Alums Co-Executive Directors Mary Bruce and Ben Duda.

Last week, with the support of the Annie E. Casey and Ford Foundations, AmeriCorps Alums convened 22 alums from across the country for the 2015 AmeriCorps Alums National Leadership Forum. The group of alumni were drawn from our 20th Anniversary Leadership Award winners and National Advisory Council members.Together, we represented a diversity of backgrounds and experiences including a state legislator, an urban farmer, a pediatrician, a spoken word poet, a chapter leader, and several non-profit executives.

During the forum, we examined our organization’s work and the results we’re seeking to achieve, using data from a range of sources on social sector leadership as well as our current programming that supports alumni. We considered talent pipelines from service to employment, work-readiness skills that members and alumni need, questions of race, gender, and economic equity of opportunity, and more.

Leadership Forum fun shot

Read more…

Four Generations of Service

May 8, 2015

Headshot.corrected.less warmToday’s guest blog comes from Joyce Yamaato in honor of Mother’s Day. Joyce currently serves as a vice president with Wells Fargo’s Strategic Philanthropy and Partnerships Group. She moved to the United States when she was eleven years old. After college, she became an AmeriCorps English as a Second Language teacher to adult immigrants and refugees with the Literacy AmeriCorps program in New Orleans. Her transformational experience with AmeriCorps has influenced her to pursue a philanthropic career spanning 20 years. 

Service starts with family. Family in my culture is basically everyone. I remember growing up and having lots of “aunts and cousins.” It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that we weren’t necessarily related!

Joyce (far upper-right) with her daughter, mother and grandmother.

Joyce (far upper-right) with her daughter, mother and grandmother.

As I reflect on Mother’s Day weekend, I am reminded of the influence of important women in my family — my mom, Joylyn, and my grandmother, Alice. Both my mom and grandmother were very involved in the community. “Service” to them meant volunteering at church, making meals for those going through hard times and giving charitably. I work to pass on these same community values to my own children.

My mom and grandmother also gave back through teaching. My mom taught English overseas. At the time, she was the only female department head in the late 1960s and early 70s. My grandmother taught sign language here in the United States. She received her Master of Arts in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Alabama in the mid-1960s. I’ve always thought of her as an adventurous woman. She went back to school to get her master’s degree after her six children became adults. Her teaching career spanned 35 years. My grandmother passed away last year at the age of 92. The photo that you see was the last one that I took with her during the holidays. I believe that her time teaching students of diverse abilities was one that she cherished the most. It was also an experience that resonated with me when I decided to serve in AmeriCorps. Read more…

Living and Serving in a New Country

May 5, 2015

William ConsuegraToday’s guest blog comes to us from AmeriCorps Alums National Leadership Award Winner William Consuegra. In 1994, William served with the Texas Youth Harvest AmeriCorps program as a high school senior. William went on to earn a law degree, work in business development at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, facilitate international education and real estate opportunities for global organizations, lead national service reviews with the Corporation for National and Community Service, and work with both sides of the political aisle to build renewable energy and economic development projects for the state of New Mexico. He now works as the Senior Economic Development Manager for the City of Commerce City, Colorado.

I was raised to believe that America is the land of opportunity. My parents immigrated from Colombia, and they always taught me to consider myself lucky to live in America. But, I also believe all of us, not just those of us that are newer to this country, have a duty to give back to the community and country that has given us so much. I’ve also wondered how much my desire to serve was shaped by being a first-generation American.

William with fellow Class 1 AmeriCorps members from his team.

William with fellow Class 1 AmeriCorps members from his team in 1994.

When I joined the inaugural class of AmeriCorps in 1994, I was attending high school in Pharr, Texas. It’s a three-border town whose school district touches the Mexican border. I was part of the Youth Harvest program comprised entirely of high school seniors. My school, and AmeriCorps group, were predominantly Hispanic, and I would surmise that one-third to a half of my team members were immigrants or first-generation Americans. I say surmise because we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media tools that would have allowed us to share everything about each other, down to what we ate that day and what culture, race, or ethnicity we identified as.

We also all lived in an economically challenged region that did not have a high percentage of educational achievement. Our team ranged the entire economic spectrum. Some of our parents were school administrators, some were Tejano music singing stars, and others worked as migrant workers. Our school, like many with similar demographics across the country, was characterized as “at-risk.” But what I vividly remember about my AmeriCorps cohort and most of my classmates, is not our risk factors, but our spirit of service. Read more…

Marist College: A Commitment to Education, Community, and Ethical Leadership

April 29, 2015

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Today’s sponsored blog is written by Brian Scott, the Associate Director of Admission at Marist College. Marist offers a tuition discount of 25% to help defray educational costs to AmeriCorps employees and alumni who are 22 years of age or older, and who have been accepted into an adult undergraduate or graduate program at the college.

At Marist College, everyone makes a difference. You served in AmeriCorps because you also believed that each person has the capacity to initiate positive change. When you come to Marist, you become part of an extraordinary legacy that has produced leaders in virtually every field, and totals just over 35,000 alumni around the globe.

Nan PriestNan Priest, the Chief Development Officer of The ARC of Ulster-Greene and a 2012 MPA graduate, had this to say, “Marist provided me with the chance to meet people who were working in a variety of industries. The experiences of my classmates helped to enrich the program and all that I learned from it. The support and guidance provided by the faculty was exceptional.

We recognize at Marist College that AmeriCorps alumni have the potential to continue leading after service. As a way of saying “thank you for serving,” we offer a tuition discount of 25% off our non-discounted graduate and adult undergraduate programs to AmeriCorps members and their immediate adult family members aged 22 and older to help defray educational costs.

We invite you to continue developing the skills you gained through AmeriCorps at Marist. Students educated within the Marist philosophy become leaders in modeling behaviors and actions that show their commitment to human rights, authentic internationality, and skill in building mutually supportive collaborations in their workplaces, civic organizations, neighborhoods, and wherever they may travel. Marist is dedicated to helping students develop the intellect and character required for enlightened, ethical, and productive lives in our 21st century global community. Read more…

The Future of National Service: Building a Movement

April 24, 2015

Together, we are building a movement. After serving in AmeriCorps, three out of four alumni pursue a career that impacts the world. We know it takes more than one service term to reach our full potential as civic leaders, but we can’t imagine a better starting line than a service year. How can we encourage more Americans to serve?

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AmeriCorps Alums gathered at Google headquarters for a conversation on the future of national service.

AmeriCorps Alums invited leading alumni and national service champions to answer that question at a special event, “The Future of National Service: Building a Movement, an Online Exchange, and Getting Involved.” Our National Advisory Council Member Seth Marbin and GooglersGive hosted us and our Bay Area chapter at Google headquarters to talk more. Read more…

3 Reasons to Register for AmeriCorps Alums Virtual Grad Fair

April 23, 2015

Thinking about grad school? Don’t miss the AmeriCorps Alums Virtual Grad School Fair on May 6th, 6 – 8:30 p.m. EDT. Here are three reasons to take five minutes today to register for our free event.

FINAL.2015-Virtual-Grad-School-Fair iMAGE

1. SAVE TIME & MONEY: Browse grad programs from across the country without leaving your desk or making your way through the crowds that go along with in-person fairs. Then, talk directly with recruiters from several schools offering financial incentives for AmeriCorps alums.

2. FIND THE RIGHT PROGRAM: Every school at our fair understands and values the skills AmeriCorps alumni bring to their programs. Register today and explore programs offering degrees in public administration, business, public health, public policy, philanthropy, international development, social work, theology, and more!

3. WIN A LAPTOP: Each alum registering for the May 6th grad school fair will be entered into a drawing to win a Lenovo G575 laptop and case.*

To reserve your spot on May 6th or to learn more, click here.

*Click here to see the official contest rules.

Memoirs of a VISTA

April 20, 2015

HEADSHOTToday’s guest post comes from Rachelle Duroseau who graduated summa cum laude from Nazareth College, in Rochester, NY, with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Community Based Youth Development. Rachelle will soon begin her second term as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Children’s Home Society of Florida’s community outreach and engagement initiative. She was recently awarded Volunteer Florida’s Champion of Service award for her VISTA work.

Growing up, it didn’t take long for me to learn that I felt most fulfilled when giving my time to others. Between high school and college, I took full advantage of as many volunteer opportunities as time allowed. I was never serving out of obligation, but always because I felt a genuine desire to volunteer.

I first learned the true meaning of empathy and saw my life in a greater context in high school. I took an elective course in hospice (The Harley Hospice Corps) that taught me how to take care of people at the peak of their vulnerability right before death. I remember one patient in particular that I bonded with. In only a few short weeks, I watched her physically and emotionally deteriorate beyond recognition. It was such a surreal experience for me. It was also a brutal lesson: life’s miseries don’t discriminate. None of us are safe from it, and all we can do is deeply cherish and respect one another while we can.

This newfound sense of civic responsibility was heightened when I studied sociology in college. I focused on exploring the areas of poverty and social inequality. During school, I volunteered with several organizations including The House of Mercy, a homeless shelter in my hometown of Rochester, NY. I became so enthralled with that community and felt so much joy building relationships with its residents and staff. But, volunteering there also made me sad. I witnessed so many people living with debilitating physical and mental restraints that had been blatantly abandoned by society. I also saw people at the absolute depths of their despair. The most painful to see were those newly seeking refuge in the shelter as they had run out of options, yet were inconsolable that this was what their lives had resorted to. It was hard not to feel the powerlessness and desolation that they experienced. It hurt to know I could not provide the support they needed. It also taught me devastating things about the pervasive, insidious, and complex realities and consequences of poverty.

By the time I graduated college, I was frustrated. I didn’t feel like my direct service work did more than put a Band-Aid over a festering wound. I was eager to start applying my skills to help create effective change, but I wasn’t ready to jump into a career. I needed to find an opportunity that would let me build off of what I knew while simultaneously giving me the confidence to safely test my personal boundaries to see what I was capable of. Read more…

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