By Marianne Sierocinski, City Year Miami ’13, ’14

The theme of my first City Year graduation captures one of the most powerful lessons I gained from my service--the notion that “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

One of the unmistakable giants within the national service community is Eli Segal--entrepreneur, political strategist and tireless advocate for social justice. As the first CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps, he made an indelible contribution to the fabric of our country and national service. It is thanks to a fellowship established in his name that I have the honor to go to work every day.

In fact, I proudly represent City Year as the first alumna of the program to serve as an Eli Segal Fellow at the Corporation for National and Community Service. This position represents an unparalleled opportunity to learn firsthand about the nation’s largest grantmaker for service and volunteering.

One of the most visible initiatives that I help run is called Employers of National Service. A top priority for our agency, Employers of National Service was first announced by President Obama at the White House during the AmeriCorps 20th anniversary celebration. Its purpose is to build a talent pipeline between national service programs (namely AmeriCorps and Peace Corps) and employers of all sizes and sectors. City Year is among its charter members!

From pitching the program to prospective employers, to creating and managing a system for member enrollment, to coordinating meetings with our partner organizations, I play an integral role in making this program a reality. In particular, I push strongly for the inclusion of members’ and recent alumni perspectives in shaping the initiative’s priorities.   

In my first six months here, I also edited a training guide for AmeriCorps State/National grantees, conducted research for web content ahead of AmeriCorps VISTA’s 50th anniversary, and contributed to the upcoming launch of a new AmeriCorps Member Exit Survey. Needless to say, my days are busy, but I come to the office thrilled and thankful to live in a country that invests federal dollars in promoting service and volunteering across the nation (at a return of 4 to 1!).

One of those investments was in me, my team, my school, and my site. As City Year AmeriCorps members, we made lesson plans, taught small groups, ran lunch mentoring, tutored after school, organized events, and more.

Most importantly, we built relationships. Beyond tutoring in math and literacy, we taught patience and grit, self-control and self-worth. In turn, we learned about the privilege of being able to influence a young person’s life.

City Year strengthened my resolve to #makebetterhappen, in moments big and small, and always with an eye toward the broader movement for change to which we all belong. My time with CNCS has furthered my appreciation for the many giants who laid the foundation for the way AmeriCorps looks today and for those who continue to champion its impact. To my national service family, I am eternally grateful, and I am committed to paying forward this experience to the next generation of leaders who are “getting things done” for America.

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