Dear City Year Philadelphia,

I am a Philadelphia native, I grew up in West Philly and I saw your signature red jackets in my neighborhood. You beautified my elementary school when I was in the 5th grade.  After that, I participated in another one of your service days because I wanted to be a part of your movement.

Your presence was strong in my community. I looked up to you. It was pretty cool that your leaders were near my age and making a difference. You helped build my community up instead of tearing it down. In high school, I decided I wanted a red jacket too.
Pictured Right: Zakiyah Ingram in Elementary School

On the first day of City Year training, I was nervous, excited, and eager to make a difference in Philadelphia. When I first put on my own red jacket, I was overjoyed. My goal of being an AmeriCorps member was becoming a reality. I was excited to be able to get into schools and work with students from communities like mine.

During my service, I have learned that although you make me “feel-good” about helping others, you are not just a “feel-good” organization. Our impact is real. We know why Jessica’s first instinct was to fight her peers. We know why Deanna was missing school. We know why Makye was struggling to get his homework done. I saw our impact when I celebrated Naadirah achieving honor roll for the first time. I saw it when Micah earned his first B in math.


With the red jacket you gave me, together, we cause real change for the students we meet.  All of the lessons we are teaching them not only make them better students, it shapes them into the adults and citizens they will become. They are future leaders; doctors, lawyers, teachers and artists in the making.

Recently, I decided to dedicate another year of service with you as a team leader so that I can continue to empower and educate Philadelphia students. Our job, to give students a helping hand to succeed, is not finished. Eventually, my role as an AmeriCorps member will end, and what my students do once I am gone is what matters most. But I know you will still be there and my red jacket family will continue where I left off.
Pictured Right: AmeriCorps member, Zakiyah Ingram

This letter is from someone that has seen your community presence as a student and grown personally from being a corps member. Both experiences have helped me become the person I am today, and I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your legacy and for shaping mine. 

Yours in service,

Zakiyah Ingram
City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member serving at William D. Kelley School

Share This Page