City Year Buffalo kicked off their Opening Day celebration this month in collaboration with sponsors, staff and teachers from five partner schools where AmeriCorps members are currently serving.
Founding Executive Director of City Year Buffalo Michael Stevens gave a warm welcome to friends, family, civic leaders and community partners gathered in support of the diverse cohort of 31 AmeriCorps members currently serving throughout the city.
“I’m proud, humbled and blessed to serve as the Executive Director of City Year Buffalo,” Stevens said. “Whether you’re new to Buffalo or have been here for a while, you know that Buffalo has a lot of nicknames: It’s The City of Good Neighbors, The Nickel City, Queen City, and my favorite name for it, The City of Light. Our schools are charging stations for The City of Light. The students are the ones that shine the brightest and bring with them the light of opportunity.”
“We are like a family at this point. We spend so much time together,” said City Year AmeriCorps member Beth Elliott, who is serving in a 4th grade classroom at Buffalo Collegiate Charter School.
“I serve to inspire the next generation of learners and leaders to reach their full potential,” Beth said during the Opening Day ceremony. “Every child has the right to feel safe, important and capable in school. We provide that environment by leading with hard work, compassion and love to create positive change for a better world. “
Every child has the right to feel safe, important and capable in school. We provide that environment by leading with hard work, compassion and love to create positive change for a better world.
Buffalo Deputy Mayor Ellen Grant welcomed City Year to the city of nearly 260,000 located along the shores of Lake Erie.
“City Year AmeriCorps members are helping students develop the skills and mindsets they need to succeed in their educational pursuits, which will help us build a stronger Buffalo for everyone,” Grant said. She led the corps members in reciting their pledge to serve and quoted Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Throughout their year of service, City Year AmeriCorps members will support students at five charter public schools: Buffalo Collegiate Charter School; Elmwood Village Charter School; Enterprise Charter School; Tapestry Charter School; and West Buffalo Charter School, helping students to cultivate both strong academic and social-emotional skills. In the process of serving Buffalo students, AmeriCorps members are also gaining valuable experience and skills that can help them advance in their future careers and as effective leaders in their communities.
With support from The Cullen Foundation, Key Bank in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation, National Grid, Rich Products and the Oishei Foundation, City Year Buffalo will have an opportunity to enrich the lives of students in each of their partner schools and provide them with a safe, welcoming and supportive learning environment.
AmeriCorps members are guided and supervised by Impact Managers—full-time City Year staff who manage and provide corps members with tools and feedback to successfully support student growth and development. Impact Managers also build relationships with school administrators and help the partnership to run smoothly.
“I appreciate the staff, the teams and everyone I’ve had a chance to work with, especially my Impact manager Win Min Thant,” said City Year Buffalo AmeriCorps member Jaz Houston, who is serving in grades three, four and five at West Buffalo Charter School. “She’s been like our school mom. Her support is there 100%. If and when we need something, she’s there making sure to find a way to get it to us.”
City Year President and acting CEO Jim Belfanz, City Year Boston ’94, welcomed City Year Buffalo to the national network.
“With 28 other cities, you are now part of a network contributing to our communities and our country and we are honored to welcome your service in Buffalo,” Balfanz said. “We know that you will continue to contribute and that we will be stronger because Buffalo is now part of our community. Thank you, we look forward to learning and serving with you for many years to come.”
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