City Year, a national education nonprofit, aims to #makebetterhappen right here in Buffalo. I had the pleasure of talking to Michael Stevens, City Year Buffalo’s Startup Director, to get the facts on City Year’s launch in Buffalo.
What is City Year?
City Year was founded 30 years ago in Boston, Massachusetts under the belief that “young people in service can be a powerful resource for addressing some of America’s most pressing issues.” The pressing issue City Year tackles? Making sure that all students have the resources and support they need to thrive in school and beyond. We believe all students can learn and succeed. But we also know that students who grow up in areas of concentrated poverty graduate from high school at rates that are nearly 22 percentage points lower than their middle and upper-income peers.
To address systemic inequities that lead to this gap, City Year recruits young adults to serve full-time in schools as AmeriCorps members. As part of City Year’s “Whole School Whole Child” services, City Year AmeriCorps members work with students in grades 3 through 9, providing tutoring and mentoring, supporting teachers in classrooms, and running after school programs and school wide events to promote a positive school climate and culture. Stevens describes the corps members as students’ “personal cheerleaders,” providing academic, social and emotional support. AmeriCorps members work to build students’ confidence and reaffirm students that they have what they need to be successful.
AmeriCorps members undergo extensive training prior to being placed in the classroom in the beginning of the school year and continue their learning throughout the school year, working closely with school partners to ensure that corps members are receiving training that aligns with the needs of the school. In addition, City Year coaches work with corps members throughout the year to help them increase their skill set and model best practices.
The short and long-term impacts of City Year are plentiful. The most immediate impact is the positive change in student outcomes including students coming to school more often and an improvement in grades. According to an external study, schools partnering with City Year are up to 2 to 3 times more likely to improve on state assessments in ELA and math.
When City Year AmeriCorps members complete their year of service, they have undergone extensive professional development and are more informed advocates for what is happening in the education system. AmeriCorps members often want to continue their service by staying in the education field, as teachers or in other capacities, resulting in long-term impact.
Is City Year Right for Buffalo?
When City Year considers a new city for its program, the organization looks for communities that actively seek out City Year’s services and are committed to a collaborative process. Stevens points to local education, foundation and business leaders who have been champions of City Year’s launch in Buffalo, saying, “The people in Buffalo have really been living up to the name the City of Good Neighbors.” Stevens adds that bringing City Year to Buffalo is all about building a community of support around our students and our schools to help them succeed.
Currently in its start-up year, City Year Buffalo is the organization’s 29th location and has one team on the ground at Enterprise Charter School. The intent for the 2019-2020 school year is to officially launch the program with a founding corps of approximately 50 AmeriCorps members working with five to six school partners.
Stevens expresses that City Year’s work is an ongoing process. “As long as there are students who need a caring adult in their life, there will always be City Year.”
With that in mind, City Year is currently recruiting talented young adults to serve as caring adults and mentors to the students of Buffalo. If you have a GED/high school diploma (or more education), are between the ages of 18 and 25, and want to make a difference in the life of a child, consider dedicating the next year of your life to serve with City Year. The next recruitment deadline to join City Year is November 16th. Are you ready to #makebetterhappen right here in Buffalo?