Survey Asks Former AmeriCorps Members Why They Joined, Stayed, or Left

Natalie Banks of National Service Consulting is conducting a 12-question, anonymous survey with former AmeriCorps members to gather input on why members join, stay, and leave programs.

She wants to hear from former members of all AmeriCorps programs, including NCCC, State and National, VISTA, Tribes, Education Award, and Leaders, regardless of how long you served, or if you completed your term. She especially wants participation from people who terminated their service early. Results will help in developing materials that provide specific Continue reading

AmeriCorps NCCC: Give A Lot & Gain Even More!

A conversation about AmeriCorps NCCC — from people who know the program well. NCCC is currently accepting applications.

Sunday Kofax's Flickr photostream

Sunday Kofax's Flickr photostream

Last evening, I had dinner with two AmeriCorps NCCC alumnae, at a quaint French bistro with absolutely the best roasted chicken. Needless to say the conversation went where it naturally flows when national service folks are gathered:

“Which NCCC campus did you serve at?” “You did Peace Corps…what country did you serve in?” “So, two years…that’s a long time.” “What was your favorite project?” “Why did you choose NCCC?” “Did you like your assignment?” “Did you get along with anyone on your team?”

Satiated from her roasted chicken dinner and awaiting her crème brulee, Tiffany admitted she was attracted to NCCC because of the broad range of service opportunities it offered. She said the various project assignments (members complete four to five different projects in ten months) was a natural fit to her goal-oriented nature.

While Shawna, who’d just polished off a truly appetizing duck confit (she gave me a piece), was now savoring her profiteroles Continue reading

AmeriCorps*NCCC Members Earn Certification through American Humanics

AmeriCorps’s conservation corps partners with American Humanics to offer corps members certification in nonprofit competency.

Also note that AmeriCorps*NCCC has new deadlines: April 1 (summer class) and July 1 (winter class).

Recognizing that a term of service is a valuable education, American Humanics (AH) offers ncccAmeriCorps*NCCC corps members the opportunity to count service hours towards AH nonprofit certification.

A national organization that offers educational opportunities on nonprofit management topics to undergraduates throughout the United States, AH has been “preparing tomorrow’s nonprofit leaders” since 1948. Around 3,000 students across the country are engaged in AH programs at 70 colleges and universities. Many of these students are working towards AH certification.

(Note that neither AH nor any other nonprofit management certification is required to get a program-management job in the nonprofit sector. Some public service roles do require certification. Read more about professional certification — and how to assess the value employers place on it — on Idealist.org’s Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center.)

The requirements of typical AH certification include 300 hours of approved internship service, general engagement in nonprofit leadership activities, academic coursework, a Bachelor’s degree, and completion of one AH Management Institute (the organization’s annual conference). What this means for NCCC corps members and alumni:

  • AmeriCorps*NCCC members serve for 1700 hours which more than achieves the internship and nonprofit leadership objectives of certification.
  • NCCC’s extensive training throughout the 10-month term of service counts for most of the academic course work requirements.
  • NCCC alumni must attend one AH Management Institute to complete some of the course requirements.
  • For the remaining course requirements, NCCC alumni can take courses at AH partner schools. Louisiana State University’s Shreveport campus allows NCCC members and recent alumni to take the needed courses  online—paying in-state tuition. (The Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award can apply to the costs of these courses.) LSU Shreveport also waives the GRE requirement for NCCC alumni taking these courses.
  • If NCCC corps members haven’t finished their Bachelor’s degree yet, AH gives them seven years to complete it in order to be eligible for certification.

AmeriCorps*NCCC is the branch of AmeriCorps that is a conservation corps, modeled after the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps. NCCC stands for National Civilian Conservation Corps and is pronounced “N-triple-C.” The program is team-based and residential, for people aged 18-24. Teams travel to a variety of work sites throughout the 10-month term of service, exposing the young people to a variety of new service experiences. NCCC has been instrumental in rebuilding New Orleans and Mississippi in the wake of Hurrican Katrina in 2005. Each team is based out of one of the following campuses: Denver, CO; Sacramento, CA; Perry Point, MD; and Vinton, IA

AmeriCorps*NCCC is accepting applications through April 1, 2009, for its summer-start class, and July 1, 2009, for its winter-start class.

Learn more by listening to the Idealist.org podcast with Katrina Mathis on AmeriCorps*NCCC.

AH also has its own AmeriCorps program called AmeriCorps*ProCorps. ProCorps members serve from 450-1700 hours and earn the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award (up To $4,725 for the full 1700-hour term).

AmeriCorps*VISTAs Blog on Grad School for Idealist.org

A former AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader and a current AmeriCorps*VISTA participate in Idealist.org’s Grad School Blog Project

Officially launched this week, a network of 12 bloggers — students, seekers, and admissions staff — are blogging about grad school. The project is a part of Idealist’s Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center.

Vanessa Mason is a prospective public health student and is a current AmeriCorps*VISTA member servingvanessa-mason with a refugee-focused nonprofit in Houston. She blogged about the relationship between refugees and public health this week as part of the refugee-themed Bloggers United day:

…Since I have started working as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees, this has taken on a newfound importance for me to raise awareness about the challenges that refugees face. This cause is particularly personal after meeting some of the children that have been directly affected by the escalating crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Violence in recent weeks has escalated to an untenable level. While violence is an obvious contributor to the high mortality rates, the majority of deaths are caused by preventable and treatable diseases. (Read more…)

Vanessa blogs at Subject to Change. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Eileen Gallagher is a Masters candidate at Brandeis Heller School for Social Policy and Management. After graduating from college, she served as a VISTA on campus, “working with students to plan service events, running a tutoring program in local elementary schools and functioning as part of the college’s student affairs staff.”

Originally interested in higher ed administration, her experience in VISTA shifted her career goals.

She says, “I knew that I loved the community that I had built ineileen-gallagher small-town Meadville and the way that I saw people banding together to create change. I wanted to study ways to use the resources that a community has to create change.”

So, she says:

“I narrowed my interests to the fields of community development, nonprofit management or business. I decided that a business degree would allow me to gain the management and technical skills that I was interested in, as well as experience in leadership and organizational behavior. I looked specifically for programs that had coursework or a concentration in community development or socially responsible business.  I also examined the list of schools that match the AmeriCorps education award.

This list is precisely how I found Brandeis’ Heller School, where I am currently enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program.  When I looked at the website for this program, I saw that Heller’s motto is ‘Managing for a Social Mission.’  I was hooked!  This seemed like the perfect fit for my interests and ambitions.”

Eileen blogs for Social Impact MBA.

Read more about the Grad School Blog Project. Find more grad school bloggers and check out Idealist’s Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center. Apply to be part of the project—we are especially looking for bloggers in the fields of journalism, public interest law, public policy and administration, international affairs, and theology. The Project would also love to hear from more men!

Chicago’s Inner-City Teaching Corps

New teachers serve for two years in Chicago’s Catholic and charter schools, live in supportive inter-faith communities, earn alternative teacher certification, and work towards their education degree.

The Inner-City Teaching Corps of Chicago aims to transform education in under-served communities and to empower children in urban schools. The organization houses two programs that create and train new teachers who work in under-resourced schools in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

Eligibility & placement

The Volunteer Teaching Corps recruits and supports recent college graduates, and the Urban Impact Through Education (UNITE) program brings “proven leaders from the business world into the teaching profession.”

As with Teach For America and other education service corps you don’t need to have been an education major, though a 3.0 minimum undergraduate Grade Point Average is expected.

ICTC places its Corps members in Catholic and charter schools because its Corps members are working towards alternative certification during their first year of service.

Alternative certification and education

The Corps’s Alternative Teacher Certification Program is a partnership with Northwestern University that adds a diverse group of talented new teachers to Chicago’s schools and allows Corps members to earn up to 22 credits towards an M.S. in Education during their term of service. Read more about ICTC’s professional development benefits.

Community living and other benefits

Volunteer Teaching Corps members live in supportive communities with other six or seven other Corps members—communities that are spiritual, and inter-faith, depending on the beliefs of the community members. Corps members receive room and board, health insurance, and a $5/day allowance. They can defer qualified student loans, and earn the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award for each year they are in the program. (Corps members use the first year of the Ed Award to contribute to the cost of the first eight Northwestern University course credits towards their degree.)

Competitiveness

This year 35-40 Corps members serve in the Volunteer Teacher Corps, but the program gets five times that number of applications. About 35 teachers serve in the UNITE program for mid-career professionals transitioning into the field of education.

Career trajectory

While teachers nationally tend to stay in the classroom an average of 3-5 years before burning out, almost 90 percent of ICTC-trained teachers are still in the field of education, according to the organization’s 2007 Annual Report.

More info and open house

Read more about this year’s Corps members, and about admissions. Note that the next application deadline is Nov. 5 — that’s next week! Also note that ICTC runs several other programs.

Also note that the Volunteer Teaching Corps hosts a weekend-long open house in mid-January called the Come & See Weekend (January 15-18, 2009). Participants in the weekend stay in the VTC communities, participate in a Corps member’s classroom, and visit Chicago’s South and West Sides. Another application deadline follows that weekend on January 21.

Resources

For more resources on graduate education, check out the Idealist.org Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, and if you live in the U.S. South, come out to one of our graduate admissions fairs touring New Orleans and Atlanta in the coming days.

This week The New Service blog is looking at education service corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer. Check out this list of education-related opprotunities that don’t require an education degree.
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TFA Alum Michelle Rhee Explained, in the WaPo

Teach For America‘s most controversial alum Michelle Rhee has garnered media attention for her iconoclastic, unbureacratic ways as the Washington, DC, chancellor of public schools. The Washington Post published a column by Jay Mathews today tracing Rhee’s basic philosophies about what works and doesn’t work in schools back to her time as a TFA Corps member in Baltimore.

“‘It was a zoo, every day,’ she recalled. Thirty-six children, all poor, suffered under a novice who had no idea what to do. But within months, for Rhee and other influential educators in her age group, the situation changed. She vowed not “to let 8-year-olds run me out of town….

“She found unconventional but effective ways to teach reading and math….Students became calm and engaged. Test scores soared. She kept one group with her for second and third grade. She was convinced that her students, despite their problems, ‘were the most talented kids ever.'”

But Rhee couldn’t teach them forever. According to Mathews, Rhee explained: “‘All of those kids would go on to other teachers and totally lose everything because those teachers were’ lousy. (Rhee used an earthier adjective.)”

The experience of working against convention to get those kids to succeed — and then the crushing disappointment of watching them go on to fail — shaped Rhee’s outlook and mission running DC’s public schools.

Teach For America, the nation’s most famous and elite education service corps, strives to eliminate educational inequities by placing graduates of top universities for two years in critical needs school districts throughout the United States. The program doesn’t aim to develop the teacher work force or address teacher shortages so much as to make it possible for all children to achieve in school, no matter where they are born, or under what circumstances.

It makes sense that Rhee works outside conventions. The two-year program trains its Corps members somewhat differently from a traditional academic program for teacher preparation. Because Corps members receive a couple months of training before becoming full-time teachers for the first time, their training tends to be very concrete, focusing on assessment, planning, and instruction, rather than emphasizing philosophy and content that are detached from the classroom application.

Hired through school district’s alternative certification programs, many Corps members earn certification through credits they earn through out their two years.

Corps members earn a starting salary for teachers in their district; benefits such as student loan deferment and the Eli Segal Education Award come through a partnership with AmeriCorps.

About a third of TFA alums go on to pursue careers in education. Most go on to leadership roles in other fields and sectors, informed by their years in the classroom. (Read about the impact of TFA Corps members and alumni. Read more about TFA’s career transitions support.) TFA has established partnerships with graduate schools who offer scholarships, application fee waivers, admission deferments and other benefits to TFA alums.

In the past year, applications to Teach For America (TFA) soared to over 25,000, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy earlier in the year, while only 6,200 TFA Corps members served last year.

That’s a lot of applicants who are turned away.

Many of these tens of thousands of applicants are drawn to Teach For America’s mission. Other applicants may be drawn to service more generally, and have applied to TFA because it’s hands-down one of the most prestigious, best-known, and best-funded AmeriCorps programs. Other applicants still may be attracted to the honor of serving with such an elite Corps of young people.

This week The New Service blog is going to look at a few other education service corps, including Chicago’s Inner City Teaching Corps and the Mississippi Teacher Corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer.

For graduating college seniors interested in applying to TFA this fall, note that the second for four deadlines is coming up Nov. 7. Read more about TFA admissions.

TFA has been a cosponsor of our Idealist.org graduate admissions fairs for years and this fall financially sponsored two of our grad fairs, including the upcoming event in Atlanta, Nov. 3.

Columnist Jay Mathews hosted a chat online about the column on Michelle Rhee.

Tuesday 10/28, Eli Lilly and Company and Teach For America announced a new networking partnership in Indianapolis that aims to strengthen the TFA Corps members as well as the students they teach.