Living in Tulsa
Tulsa has rapidly grown into a vibrant, modern metro area of nearly 1 million residents, with all the amenities of a big city while still maintaining its “small town” charm. Tulsa is known for its warm and welcoming atmosphere and innovative attitude of its residents.
Tulsa is widely recognized for its BBQ, music scene, art museums and extremely friendly people. There is a wide variety of attractions throughout the city that reflect a diverse culture, such as the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Gilcrease Museum and the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park. There are several year-round, widely attended festivals and cultural events held in throughout the city. The food in Tulsa has strong influences from the South, the Southwest, the Midwest and Native American culture.
Tulsa is a very easy city to navigate, and many people spend time outside biking and running. Those seeking nature will have plenty of green spaces to choose from, including downtown’s urban oasis at Guthrie Green, the wilderness trails of Turkey Mountain Trails and the newly opened and impressive riverside park, the Gathering Place.
Recognized by Forbes as one of the best cities for young entrepreneurs, Tulsa is home to one of the nation's largest and most active young professionals’ networks in the country. With its many options for higher education, leadership development programs and entrepreneurial incubators, Tulsa is a lively and energetic place for young people to start their career.
Why We Need You
While Tulsa is thriving in many ways, the students City Year serves are faced with many challenges, including transiency and food and housing insecurity. The student population is very diverse with 75% of the student population consisting of American Indian, Asian, African American, Hispanic, and Multiracial students, and there is an increasing number of English Language Learners. Within Tulsa Public Schools, 73% of students are eligible for free and reduced priced lunch.  On average, only about half of students are proficient in math, and about half are proficient in reading. Unfortunately, only 67% of Tulsa Public School students graduate from high school.
Confounding these educational outcomes is the fact that Oklahoma is among the lowest recipients of federal education funding in the US. The Tulsa Public School system has a teacher shortage, which has often resulted in numerous substitute teachers leading classrooms, and many schools no longer have any support staff, including a lack of nurses, guidance counselors and/or social workers due to significant budget cuts.
How You Can Make a Difference
Given the work to be done in education in Tulsa, City Year’s presence is crucial. AmeriCorps members are filling in tremendous gaps created by last year’s budget cuts. AmeriCorps members plan and facilitate school wide events such as book fairs, school dances, and math and literacy nights. Another major role AmeriCorps members take on is bringing diversity to students – and demonstrating positive collaboration on a diverse team. Students are in awe of AmeriCorps members. They see driven young people who are passionate about education and college access, which are brand new concepts for some students. It is so important to introduce different perspectives and experiences to students to broaden their horizons.
Tulsa is committed to public education and is home to some of the country’s leading philanthropies. In addition to bringing in City Year, Tulsa Public Schools launched an apprentice program to empower individuals to pursue a teaching career in Tulsa. The program includes a full-time placement, a mentor, certification support, and professional development along with a salary instead of the typical daily rate substitutes earn. The apprentice program demonstrates that the district values high quality education and is committed to investing in talent in order to provide students with an excellent education. Further, City Year Tulsa has the backing of all sectors of the community, between key philanthropic players (like the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation and Tulsa Area United Way), and major private sector corporations (including Bank of Oklahoma, Cox Communications and QuikTrip).
Tulsa is in high need for idealistic young people to work with students to help them reach their potential. With a temperate climate, a low cost of living, and a unique culture that blends the Midwest, South and Southwest, many individuals find Tulsa an idyllic place for young professionals to work and live. Organizations throughout Tulsa are committed to investing in and empowering young professionals. The Tulsa Young Professional Network (TYPROS) is one of the most active young professional organizations in the US.
It is impossible to come to Tulsa and not find an area of passion or opportunity to make a true difference in the community and students' lives. Many Tulsa AmeriCorps members come in for one year and end up becoming a long term resident of this vibrant community.