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Statement from City Year CEO Jim Balfanz on President Biden’s State of the Union Address

We are inspired by President Biden’s call in the State of the Union address last night for more Americans to step forward and serve our students and schools as tutors, mentors and role models—something that thousands of AmeriCorps members are doing every day through many national service programs, including City Year.

Public schools need additional capacity right now, especially those in our nation’s most systemically under-resourced communities. An infusion of evidence-based supports will not only accelerate pandemic recovery efforts—it will also help to address long-standing educational inequities that for too long have denied opportunities to thrive for children of color, children growing up in lower-income households, children with disabilities, and English language learners.

We can answer the Presidents call with a National Partnership for Student Success (previously called the National Corps for Student Success) that brings together locally chosen, evidence-based supports including student success coaches, mentors, tutors, post-secondary transition coaches and wraparound supports. These caring and trained adults enable young people’s academic, social and emotional learning and development, while promoting their mental health and wellbeing. 

Student success coaches (SSCs) are a key part of this vision. SSCs provide additional “people-power” and talent that support students and teachers through direct social, emotional and academic services, including one-on-one tutoring and small group instruction, classroom supports, and activities that build whole school environments of joy and belonging. SSCs are interwoven into the fabric of schools to enable the conditions that allow other interventions to succeed and that can help bring practices advocated by the science of learning and development to life.  Many SSCs continue their careers as educators, helping to build a more robust, diverse pipeline of future educators.

City Year AmeriCorps members serving as Student Success Coaches are having an impact.  Evidence demonstrates that schools that partner with City Year are two-to-three times more likely to improve in math and English assessments and the more time students spend with a City Year student success coach, the more likely they are to improve their social emotional and academic skills—with students furthest behind benefiting the most.

About half of City Year alums who responded to a 2020 survey said they worked in the education sector as classroom teachers, administrators, school counselors or at education-focused nonprofits. These alums are significantly more diverse than the national teacher workforce–45% are people of color, compared with 21% nationally–and 45% of our alumni teachers decide to stay in same community where they served.

We hope young adults across the country will answer President Biden’s call to serve students as tutors, mentors and role models. One path is to become a City Year AmeriCorps member this year in one of 29 U.S. cities.

Learn more about service with City Year AmeriCorps, or start your application today:

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