This is an exciting season for City Year. Across the country, our 25 sites are holding Opening Day ceremonies to welcome City Year’s new and largest corps to date. More than 2,800 talented and committed City Year AmeriCorps members have dedicated a year to making a difference in the lives of children who attend schools in some of the country’s most underserved communities. City Year’s newest sites, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, held its first Opening Day ceremony last Friday, welcoming 50 corps members who have started their year of service in six of Tulsa’s highest need schools.
City Year New Hampshire celebrated its 15th Opening Day with Kerri St. Jean, Comcast EVP of Human Resources for the North East Division and City Year New Hampshire board member.
As the national sponsor of all 25 City Year Opening Day ceremonies, Comcast and NBCUniversal’s support is key to making these days a celebration of idealism and commitment to keeping students in school and on track to succeed. Comcast and NBCUniversal have supported City Year’s work since 2001, and have played an important role in helping our corps grow from 700 a year to now more than 2,800. Charisse R. Lillie, Vice President of Community Investment at Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast Foundation, is someone who knows the impact City Year has in schools and in the lives of the corps members first-hand. Her daughter served with City Year Philadelphia for two years. "We are proud to continue our work with City Year, because together we are addressing one of our nation’s most critical issues: the high school dropout crisis,” said Lillie. “This issue is complicated, and one that needs continued focus and an integrated, strategic approach to help put at-risk students on a path to success.”Across the country, nearly 50 percent of our country’s dropouts come from only 10 percent of schools.
Of the more than 250 schools where City Year AmeriCorps members serve, three quarters are among the lowest performing in the state. In Tulsa, 85 percent of students are economically disadvantaged and barely half of the city’s public school students graduate on time. But City Year is seeing promising and hopeful results. City Year New Hampshire, for instance, has tutored, mentored, and supported 12,800 students since 2000. Recently, their results showed that 97% of students in grades 3 through 5 who received support from City Year New Hampshire corps members improved their raw literacy scores, and 92% of teachers agreed that corps members helped improve their students overall academic performance.
City Year Opening Days offer an opportunity for mayors, superintendents and supporters to welcome corps members to their communities and schools and to acknowledge that the challenging work of keeping students in school and committed to a brighter future requires partnership and optimism. When City Year AmeriCorps members take their pledge to serve, they not only commit to lead by example and be a role model to children, but they commit to serve with an open heart and mind, and to build a stronger community, nation and world for all of us.