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City Year offers high school grads college & career readiness

The remarkable young adults ages 17 to 25 who commit to serving a year with City Year are as diverse as the students they serve. They’re at different points in their development, building their skill set and figuring out what their future holds.

While all are high school graduates with a desire to positively impact their communities, City Year AmeriCorps members come to service with a wide range of experiences.

Many are recent college graduates; others join after receiving their master’s degree. Some folks start City Year after gaining some experience in the “working world.” Others, still, are high school graduates looking to take a gap year before beginning some form of career planning or postsecondary education—job training, apprenticeship or college.

City Year AmeriCorps gap year education and career pathways

From City Year to higher education or a career

Since our corps members start service with such diverse experiences, they go on to do many different things, serving and leading across a wide range of professions. At the end of your service year, you’ll become a part of our remarkable alumni community—a network that is nearly 37,000 strong. Our alums make significant contributions to communities and workplaces across the country in sectors like education, tech, healthcare, law and public service. City Year alums are civically engaged leaders working to make a difference in their communities through their work.

Quite simply put, our alums are amazing and inspiring. But have no fear! As a City Year applicant, you don’t need to know what you want to do after completing service. Throughout the year, you’ll participate in leadership development training to help guide your work supporting students in classrooms and to further your personal, academic or career goals.

You’ll also receive a Segal Education Award—worth more than $6,300—upon completion of your service year, which can be used for future study, educational travel or past education loans.

No matter where you serve (the are 29 U.S. sites in total), you’ll receive this level of support. But if you’re a high school graduate and feeling unsure about what you want to do next—City Year San Antonio may be the site for you!

Supporting AmeriCorps members in their personal and professional goals

Like all sites across the network, City Year San Antonio works hard to ensure that its corps members feel supported throughout their service—and this includes setting them up for success after their service is over!

Through its Career and College Readiness (CCR) program, CYSA partners with local nonprofits and other community partners to help mentor cohorts of corps members. Each cohort meets monthly and receives specialized guidance based on the group’s post-service plans. (For example, high school graduates who are unsure of what they’d like to do after service meet separately from college graduates are thinking about applying to graduate school).

The benefit of these cohorts is that corps members have the opportunity to connect with other AmeriCorps members with similar experiences and aspirations and receive specialized attention from mentors.

Hope Muñoz, a corps member currently serving a third year with City Year San Antonio, has benefitted greatly from the site’s College and Career Readiness program. She came to service as a high school graduate, unsure of what she wanted to afterward—so she served another year and one more after that! Now, with her final City Year graduation on the horizon, she’s finally ready to move on to the next chapter in her life.

“When I first joined City Year, I knew I liked working with kids, but I had no idea what I would want to do after service,” says Hope. “But I’m glad that the City Year San Antonio staff was here to support me as a corps member and a young person trying to figure it all out.”

As an AmeriCorps member serving with City Year San Antonio, corps members have the option to join a Career and College Readiness cohort specifically for high school graduates who aren’t sure what they want to do after service. To help guide members of this cohort, CYSA partners with Restore Education, a local nonprofit that provides the San Antonio community with a continuum of services that include career training and college readiness support. This year, Ilse Reyes, a Restore Education Student Success Specialist with Restore who specializes in finding alternative educational pathways for non-traditional learners, is working with the group of undecided high school graduate cohort. Ilse is also a CYSA 16’, 17’ alum and San Antonio native who is passionate about giving back to her community.

After City Year graduation, Hope plans to start at a two-year college, where she’ll be studying early childhood development. She says her ultimate goal is to obtain her bachelor’s degree but has learned through the mentorship and guidance she’s received at City Year San Antonio that when planning her future, it’s okay to take it step by step:

“I don’t have to have my entire career planned out right now. I’m starting with my associate degree, and after that, we’ll see! But I feel confident that I’ll be able to figure it out with the help of others and the resources available to me.”

College and career readiness is about equity

High school counselors play a critical role in supporting students’ post-graduation goals. But many counselors—particularly those working in systemically underfunded schools—lack the time and resources to sufficiently support their students through this process.

Recognizing that many of the AmeriCorps members who serve with City Year San Antonio are high school graduates who may not have had sufficient access to school counselors, CYSA sees its CCR program as a way to address this issue.

“Whether you’re a high school graduate or have a master’s degree, we want all our corps members to receive the same level of support,” says David Schlenker, Director of Learning and Development for City Year San Antonio. “This is about equity. And we hope that anyone joining our corps will receive the guidance and mentorship they need, regardless of their educational background or previous work experience.”

The Career and College Readiness program aims to support 100% of City Year San Antonio’s corps members in crafting a plan for their life after City Year. And if the corps member has not decided on a college or career plan by the end of service, City Year San Antonio pledges to continue to work with that alum after their year of service until they reach their goal.

“We’re City Year, right? We know the power of mentorship and setting folks up so they can do their best. So, we work with corps members even after they’ve graduated from service until they feel good about their next steps.”

Whether you serve City Year San Antonio or another site, know that you’ll receive the guidance you need throughout your year with us. You’ll build relationships with City Year staff members, partner teachers and team sponsors who are all rooting for your success. Once you graduate, you’ll join a community of alums whom you can reach out to and lean on for the support you need in planning your goals.

Then you’ll see that in just one year of service, you’ll make a positive change in the lives of students—and your own life as well!

Are you a high school graduate looking to spend a year helping students achieve their goals while working on your own? Apply to City Year today!

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