Dear Prospective Parents,

When my son was a high school senior, we were thrilled that he was accepted to his first choice college. However, we were shocked by the high private school tuition. We told him that if we were going to consider spending the money to send him there, we wanted to be sure he was mature enough to take advantage of the opportunity. We encouraged him to take a gap year, giving him the extra time he needed to make the best decision about his future. Although we did not know that much about it at the time, City Year fit the bill for him.  He could live away from home as he would have done if he went to college, which he wanted to do; he could do service, which was something he valued; and he could support himself, which was important to us.  

By participating in City Year my son’s knowledge of other people's experience, challenges, and goals has expanded exponentially -  not only from working with children in an inner city school but also from meeting other AmeriCorps members from all over the country and from different backgrounds.  I believe that the understandings he has gained about the devastating affects of poverty and poor educational opportunities as well as his own privilege has had a transformational impact on his worldview and his sense of self and others in the world.

My son decided to apply to“serve where most needed” with City Year and ended up moving to Philadelphia from our home in Milwaukee. Having a family friend in the same city was a reassurance to us, but one that our son rarely leaned on. We were a bit nervous at first about getting him settled into the new city, but he was able to easily find an apartment with other City Year AmeriCorps roommates thanks to Facebook and Google.  Although a bit more expensive than he might otherwise have had to pay, getting a fully furnished apartment made his move in and move out easy.  What he could have saved on rent, we would have had to spend on furnishing an apartment.  

We cannot be more pleased about the experience our son has had in City Year.  Not only has the work itself been life-changing, but the responsibility of working, supporting himself, and taking care of all his daily needs have made him a very grown up 18-year-old.  I have every confidence that he is now fully ready for college.  I would recommend City Year to any interested graduating high school student and their parents.  Our son has worked extremely hard, with terrific dedication and commitment, especially to his students.  I believe the purposefulness and focus of trying to help young children succeed has made the work feel meaningful, and the skills, knowledge, and perspectives he has gained will serve him for a lifetime.



Alisa Belzer


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