City Year Orlando Kicked Off Their Year of National Service in
Orange County Public Schools

Sisaundra Lewis joined City Year Orlando as AmeriCorps members pledged to help keep students in school and on track to graduate

ORLANDO, FL (September 21, 2014) – On Friday, City Year Orlando AmeriCorps members pledged to make a difference in the lives of thousands of students in Orange County Public Schools (OCPS).  City Year, a national education-focused non-profit that unites diverse teams of young leaders for a year of full-time service in the nation’s highest-need schools, publicly launched its third year of service with an Opening Day ceremony at Oak Ridge High School.

Joined by family and friends, partners and supporters, board members and OCPS representatives, City Year Orlando AmeriCorps members were treated to a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and a keynote speech by singer and songwriter Sisaundra Lewis, who challenged them to put their all into their service year. She noted, “It's important to have a presence in the virtual world and even more important to show up, check in, and stay connected in the actual world.”

Board Chair John Sprouls, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer for Universal Parks and Resorts, along with Dr. Jesús Jara, Deputy Superintendent for OCPS, spoke of the impact City Year Orlando has made in the community already. During the 2013-2014 school year, 70% of students in grades 3-9 that were tutored by City Year Orlando AmeriCorps members maintained or improved at least one letter grade in English language arts and 94.5% of teachers agreed that AmeriCorps members helped foster a positive environment for learning. Furthermore, 100% of principals and assistant principals agreed that City Year Orlando AmeriCorps members served as positive role models for students.

Jordan Plante, Vice President and Executive Director for City Year Orlando, stated, “This work is truly collaborative and a community effort. We’re honored to serve in seven schools alongside dedicated teachers, administrators, business leaders, and community partners. Furthermore, the foundation of our service is made possible through Volunteer Florida and AmeriCorps.”

As City Year AmeriCorps members took their pledge to serve students on Friday, they also took the AmeriCorps pledge in honor of the 20th anniversary of the national service program. Since it began, 900,000 people have served with AmeriCorps programs like City Year to meet community needs in education, the environment, public safety, health, homeland security and more.

City Year Orlando partners with teachers and administrators in OCPS to place highly-trained young adults in schools where they’re needed most to provide individual support to students who need extra care and attention. Working side-by-side with teachers, these City Year Orlando AmeriCorps members use research-based early warning indicator and intervention systems to help students who are struggling, so more kids stay in school and on track to succeed. As AmeriCorps member Alicia Lorfink stated during the Opening Day program, “When students don’t show up at school, we are there to provide additional support and guidance to get them back in school. When students fall behind in class, we tutor them before, during, and after school so they can catch up. We push kids to set high expectations and get them excited about learning.”

Across the country, nearly 50 percent of our nation’s dropouts come from only 10 percent of schools, and City Year, Inc. has bold plans to address this. Over the next decade, City Year plans to expand, reaching the cities that account for two-thirds of the nation’s dropouts and supporting nearly 800,000 students annually.

Comcast and NBCUniversal sponsor Opening Day events at all 25 City Year locations. Comcast and NBCUniversal has been a loyal and dedicated partner since 2001, providing a total of more than $80 million in cash and in-kind support to City Year. Since then, City Year has grown from nearly 700 AmeriCorps members to a corps of more than 2,800.

"We are proud to continue our work with City Year, because together we are addressing one of our nation’s most critical issues: the high school dropout crisis,” said Charisse R. Lillie, Vice President of Community Investment at  Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast Foundation. “This issue is complicated, and one that needs continued focus and an integrated, strategic approach to help put at-risk students on a path to success.”

Aramark is a City Year National Leadership Sponsor and is helping City Year evolve and strengthen civic engagement nationally. As City Year’s official uniform partner, Aramark provides uniforms and the signature red jackets to 2,800 AmeriCorps members and staff. 

Founding Partners of City Year Orlando include Orange County Public Schools, Michael and Kim Ward Foundation, and Volunteer Florida. City Year Orlando’s team sponsors are CSX Transportation, the Darden Foundation, Heart of Florida United Way, SunTrust Foundation, Universal Orlando Foundation, and Wells Fargo. City Year Orlando is also supported by Disney, JPMorgan Chase & Co, LYNX, and Tupperware Brands Foundation.

To learn more about City Year, visit www.cityyear.org, become a Facebook fan or follow @CityYear on Twitter.

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About City Year: City Year is an education-focused, nonprofit organization founded in 1988 that partners with public schools and teachers to help keep students in school and on track to succeed.  In 25 communities across the United States and through two international affiliates, this innovative public-private partnership brings together teams of young AmeriCorps members who commit to a year of full-time service in schools. AmeriCorps members provide individual support to students who need extra care and attention, focusing on attendance, behavior, and course performance through in-class tutoring, mentoring, and after school programs.