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Finding new ways to serve during COVID-19

As schools, families and communities across the country adjust to life during the COVID-19 pandemic, City Year and our district partners are finding new ways to support students, teachers and classrooms while also continuing their own training and professional development online.

Service has not stopped. Service just looks different

At City Year Memphis, AmeriCorps members are making phone calls home to families, connecting with their students and checking in on how they and their parents are doing.

City Year Cleveland corps members are sending inspirational messages to their students via Instagram.

In the early weeks of self-isolation, AmeriCorps members in Milwaukee shared how they were keeping their teams connected and uplifted on frequent video calls and tips on how to provide self-care during the epidemic.

Check out City Year Milwaukee’s story: A day in the life of virtual service.

Some City Year AmeriCorps members in New Orleans and Denver, for example, are supporting teachers in virtual classrooms, answering students’ questions in chat boxes, and providing online tutoring sessions.

Other corps members are busy connecting with families to ensure that all students have access to computers and the internet—a major issue in some school districts across the country and will begin working with students online in mid-April.

Learn more about the 29 U.S. cities where City Year serves.

Support students, families and teachers in virtual learning

In Orlando, City Year reached out to the principals of the schools they serve shortly after it became clear that schools would close and would have to embrace distance learning.

“We asked them: when you are making your plans, please think of City Year and how our corps members can help to support teachers and students,” says Ashley Zenzel, managing director of impact for City Year Orlando.

Today, some corps members are assisting teachers during online classes and also providing “service desk” support for a couple of hours each day, helping students and parents to find assignments and materials so they can complete their schoolwork.

“Service has not stopped,” Zenzel says. “Service just looks different.”

Relationships matter a lot right now

Relationships between AmeriCorps members and students are at the heart of City Year’s work in schools.

The science is clear: students learn and develop much better when they feel safe, supported, valued and heard. As near-peer mentors, tutors and role models—student success coaches—City Year AmeriCorps members are powerfully positioned to forge caring, consistent and positive relationships with the students they serve every day.

Watch how City Year Washington D.C. Corps members are greeting their students in the morning via social media.

It’s not enough to help students pass a math test—City Year partners with teachers to ensure that students are able to thrive, both in and out of school. And that means nurturing their growth and skill development so students can engage more deeply with their learning and stay on track to graduate from high school, prepared for college and career.

In light of COVID-19, we are seeking new ways to connect with students and bring joy to their learning experience. Strong relationships improve student outcomes.

Search Institute is helping schools to put in place structures and practices that strengthen relationships between the school community and students who are now learning from home and need help navigating this stressful situation.

Search Institute offers a checklist for building positive relationships with youth during the pandemic.

City Year AmeriCorps still in this together

How you can help

Apply to City Year

One thing you can count on at this uncertain time: City Year AmeriCorps members will be there, for our students and our schools. If you are a young adult ages 18-24 or know someone who is, please consider applying to serve with us for the 2021-2022 school year.

Reach out to your local City Year site

Several sites are asking community members to consider sharing job opportunities or hosting a webinar to share career-readiness skills with AmeriCorps members as they prepare for life after service.

You might be the perfect person to offer some sage advice or help these young adults build their professional networks.

Contact us

Make a donation

Ensuring that all students have access to the relationships and resources they need to thrive is the work of all of us. We believe that the holistic supports City Year AmeriCorps members provide will be in even greater demand when schools resume after the pandemic.

City Year AmeriCorps members will not only help to mitigate the learning loss experienced by students, but also help to restore their sense of security, confidence and belonging—all essential elements to learning and development.


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