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The impact of City Year lasts a lifetime

Middle school was challenging for Eric Santos.

But fortunately, he had the support of caring adults in his school community, including City Year AmeriCorps member Chen Zhang (Providence ‘12, ‘13). Chen took time to connect with Eric, offering him encouragement, kindness and a dose of humor at just the right moment.

A City Year AmeriCorps member hugs the corps member who served them

City Year AmeriCorps members can relate to students

While Chen didn’t work with Eric directly in his classroom, they often interacted through the afterschool program that Chen’s City Year team helped to run. That time spent together had an immeasurable, lifelong impact on both of them.

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Curious about what corps members do all day? Learn about the experience.

In fact, Chen inspired Eric to join City Year and serve in his hometown a decade after the two met. Now, both are City Year AmeriCorps alums.

City Year service offers an opportunity to give back to your community

“I chose to serve with City Year because I wanted to give something bigger than myself to my community,” says Eric, who just completed a year serving with City Year Providence as a student success coach.

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City Year AmeriCorps members are tutors, mentors and role models. Learn about being a student success coach.

“I knew I could be a mentor because that’s exactly what I had, growing up in middle school. It helped me a lot, so I knew I could give that same energy back.”

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Learn more about City Year’s holistic approach to supporting students.

City Year AmeriCorps members inspire their students for years to come

Chen surprised Eric this spring just before City Year Providence’s annual Red Jacket Gala, when he entered a room where Eric was being interviewed for an emotional reunion. They had a chance to express how their connection and experience with City Year a decade ago had helped to shape both of their lives.

“City Year has been the most impactful experience of my personal and professional life,” Chen said.

“I don’t think I could have ever imagined this moment—seeing you wear the same red jacket I wore more than ten years ago,” Chen told Eric. “It’s just an incredible feeling.”

To learn more about Eric and Chen’s story, you can watch their reunion here.

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