By Evelyn Lopez, AmeriCorps member serving on the AT&T Team

Belief in the Power of Young People

City Year is committed to harnessing one of the most powerful forces for positive change at work in the world today.


During the first week of school, our team was welcomed by a particularly curious young adult by the name of Charlie*. He was determined to memorize all of our names and get to know each of us. He was a rather quiet and reserved individual at first, but over the course of time he began to open up. 

Charlie started to connect with our City Year team and day after day, he continued to be a presence in our team room. He is always the first to check-in if one of our corps members is out and is quick to offer words of encouragement if anyone is having a tough day. Charlie began working with our team in small group interventions for math and while he has had many successes, there have been times where he was unable to focus due to his frustration with the content.

One day, his frustration extended beyond the classroom and was placed upon one of the members of our team. Rather than allow the situation to worsen, Charlie and I came up with a resolution for him to have an open conversation with the individual on our team. From that moment on, whenever he faced a challenging situation, he would reflect on his actions and set high expectations for himself.

After learning how to manage his own feelings of discouragement and frustration, Charlie has stepped up as a role model and leader to the other students. He encourages his peers to persevere and guides them on how to push past their frustrations. He has taught them the techniques and skills to help them conquer mathematics problems that once defeated him. Through these moments, I have seen Charlie grow tremendously over the past few months, from a quiet and reserved student to an encouraging, mature, and young leader.

He acknowledges our team every day for our hard work and dedication: (a letter from Charlie)

“Dear City Year,

I wanted to tell you guys thank you. In the morning whenever I am tired, sad, or just bored I go into the City Year room and it all goes away. I truly really do enjoy all of you guys and gals and am going to miss you guys next year.


Your favorite, Charlie”

Charlie may face his daily struggles, but his dedication to education and growth into an accountable, mature young adult motivates and inspires my team to fully serve every single day. My belief in the power of young people is fueled daily by Charlie's growth. He is my starfish and I am proud to serve as his City Year AmeriCorps member.


*Name changed to protect the identity and privacy of our students

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