Saving Northwest Service Academy

The Pacific Northwest national service community has been rocked this past week with the news that one of our most vibrant AmeriCorps National programs has lost its AmeriCorps funding starting in September of 2010.

Northwest Service Academy‘s AmeriCorps program partners with local agencies, schools, and organizations to tackle environmental projects in the Pacific Northwest.  Its LINKS program works with partnering agencies to directly address education, public safety, the environment and other community needs. It’s sponsored and supported over 4,000 AmeriCorps members.

The funding situation means that as things currently stand, this year’s members will serve out their terms (as late as November) but the 75 placement sites already selected for the coming year will likely not be able to recruit people to fill needed service positions. Continue reading

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Northwest Service Academy Offers Shining Examples of What AmeriCorps Gets Done

Achievements of some outstanding local AmeriCorps members and their projects.

Today, AmeriCorps members from the Northwest Service Academy (NWSA) graduate from their term of AmeriCorps service — I want to congratulate them and to share what I learned about the work of some members at their recent Achievements Symposium.

A few weeks ago I listened to presentations by several NWSA members about their work. I was stunned not only by the calibre of experience the members brought with them into their service, but also the degree to which they used their term of service to develop innovative new programs, that will have a lasting impact in their communities.

I want to highlight two of the projects I heard about here:

Kids sorting trash in the cafeteria.Save Organic Scraps • Gregg Hayward

Gregg Hayward has been the School Recycling Coordinator for Clark County Solid Waste. Clark County is in southern Washington state, just north of Portland. Gregg has been operating a program called Save Organic Scraps, or S.O.S., teaching K-12 students about recycling and composting, and giving them the opportunity to create significant waste diversion at their schools and at home.

Composting — turning food waste into rich black soil for use in gardening and other endeavors — creates healthier soil for people and fish, that decreases the need for polluting chemical fertilizers. Diverting food waste from landfills also reduces the Continue reading

AmeriCorps Week: Learning and Teaching Resourcefulness

Genesis McKiernan-AllenAs part of AmeriCorps Week I’m interviewing some of the Idealist.org-involved people who have served or are currently serving in AmeriCorps. This interview is with former Idealist.org intern Genesis McKiernan-Allen, who served last year with Northwest Service Academy (NWSA) and is currently serving as a team leader with Impact Northwest.

Where have you served?

I served my first AmeriCorps year as the Outreach and Education Assistant at a nonprofit building material reuse center called The ReBuilding Center (TRC) in Portland, OR.  I was placed there through the NWSA. Now I’m serving a different nonprofit agency — Impact Northwest — in a much different capacity. This year I am the Team Leader for a brand new branch of the Impact NW AmeriCorps program.  I’m supporting 10 brand new members in 10 brand new positions. Continue reading

AmeriCorps Week: This Town Runs on the Northwest Service Academy

In honor of AmeriCorps Week, I’m interviewing people who are current or former AmeriCorps members, to talk with them Sara Lozitoabout their service, and its impact on their communities and their careers. This interview is with Sara Lozito, our Idealist.org podcast intern who’s currently serving with the Northwest Service Academy (NWSA).

Where do you serve?

I currently serve as an Individual Placement Team Leader at the Northwest Service Academy (NWSA) in Portland, OR. From 2007-2008 I served at Ecotrust also in Portland.

What were you doing before you joined AmeriCorps?

I was: helping to build the Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center at Idealist.org, running a before-school program at a Portland elementary school, and teaching in an after-school program at a Portland middle school.

Why did you join AmeriCorps? What did you hope to accomplish?

I hoped to help organizations build better programs and to accomplish those goals that could Continue reading

AmeriCorps Week: Education for Increased Health and Food Security

Randall CassIn honor of AmeriCorps Week, I’m interviewing people who are current or former AmeriCorps members, to talk with them about their service, and its impact on their communities and their careers. This interview is with Randall Cass, a former Idealist.org intern who’s currently serving with the Northwest Service Academy (NWSA).

Where do you serve?

I am the AmeriCorps placement at Oregon Tilth’s Organic Education Center. Oregon Tilth is a nonprofit dedicated to organic research, education, and certification.

What were you doing before you joined AmeriCorps?

I started my position about four months after I graduated from college. During those months I worked a retail job (not really my thing) while crashing on my sister’s couch until I found a place of my own.

Why did you join AmeriCorps? What did you hope to accomplish? Continue reading