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Answering the call to serve our students

Answering The Call to Serve New York’s Students

For nearly 20 years, diverse and talented young adults have joined City Year New York, an organization that helps to advance educational equity, workforce development and civic engagement by recruiting AmeriCorps members to serve full-time in our public city schools.

The fact that students have experienced heightened levels of stress and trauma as a result of the pandemic is a clear enough reason why we need to employ holistic approaches to robustly support their learning and development.

Research in trauma-informed care has identified four main components that tend to help students heal and to ultimately be more academically engaged: building connections with students; creating psychologically safe classroom spaces; engaging students in personally meaningful activities in which students have both “voice” and “choice,” and helping students to build social and emotional competence.

Integrated academic and social-emotional supports for students are desperately needed in our schools both during and after the pandemic, especially for BIPOC children and their families who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

City Year AmeriCorps member with student at school

Answering President Biden’s call for more tutors and mentors

We applaud President Biden’s call during the State of the Union for more Americans to step up and support students by becoming tutors and mentors—something City Year New York has proudly done across our 17 partner schools in communities in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

As student success coaches, City Year AmeriCorps members partner with classroom teachers to support students’ academic growth and social-emotional development, whether that’s mastering fractions or learning how to work in teams—skills that are valuable in school and in life. As tutors, mentors and role models, corps members provide much needed capacity in our city schools by offering one-on-one tutoring, small group instruction and skills coaching to students who need support the most. Student success coaches also plan enrichment opportunities and school events that nurture a safe, engaging and welcoming learning environment for everyone in the school community.

City Year’s impact on students and schools

City Year’s work in schools has a positive impact.

A 2020 study shows that the more time students spend with AmeriCorps student success coaches, the better students’ outcomes, academically, socially, emotionally and in terms of attendance. Previous studies show that schools that partner with City Year are two-to-three times more likely to improve in English Language Arts and mathematics than similar schools without City Year.

And a large body of research demonstrates that students show up to school, ready to learn and engage, when they are connected to at least one caring adult in school.

Opportunity for the talents of young adults

Yet since the beginning of COVID-19, many AmeriCorps programs, including City Year New York, have experienced a dramatic decline in applications. We are now faced with an urgent need to recruit more AmeriCorps members to begin their year of service in NYC schools in August 2022.

This shortage of talent affects our students’ access to the kinds of learning opportunities, resources and relationships they need to flourish. We believe that supporting children and young adults contribute to a more just, equitable and vibrant New York City. It is incumbent upon us to find ways to increase human capacity and resources in schools across NYC, ensuring all students have access to the positive developmental relationships and engaging learning environments they need to thrive.

City Year AmeriCorps members and alumni are tremendous assets to our city. These dynamic young leaders also acquire valuable skills during their service that are in demand by employers and that help them identify future career pathways. AmeriCorps members earn exclusive scholarships for college, graduate school or educational travel. Some alumni become teachers themselves; many remain in NYC after their year of service and help to enrich our communities as professionals across a wide array of sectors.

Encourage young adults to apply to serve with City Year

We are asking parents, high school principals, guidance counselors, college and university presidents and others who know and work with young adults ages 17-25 to urge them to consider serving with City Year New York or another one of City Year’s 29 U.S. sites and apply this spring.

City Year alumni data show that national service is a catalytic experience of personal growth, professional skill building and meaningful civic engagement for thousands of young adults each year. We’re doing more than ever before to support our corps members, with new trainings, resources and benefits including mental health supports and an increased bi-weekly stipend.

Please encourage a young adult in your life to answer President Biden’s call to step up and support students. The experience will not only change the lives of the students they serve, but their own as well, and benefit our entire city.

City Year New York Executive Director Quamid Francis previously served as Deputy Commissioner, Chief of Staff and Chief Diversity Officer at New York Department of Veterans’ Services where he oversaw agency-wide programs, operations, strategic partnerships and legislative affairs.

Gess LeBlanc, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Counseling Programs at Hunter College, and is the author of “Who’s in My Classroom?: Building Developmentally and Culturally Responsive School Communities.”

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