On the Anniversary of the National Partnership for Student Success, National Service Initiative Continues to Succeed in Bolstering Educational Equity and Support Recovery Post-Pandemic

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AmeriCorps Seniors awardees

AmeriCorps Seniors awardees
AmeriCorps Seniors awardees

Washington, DC, July 05, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In an impactful response to the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted education nationwide, the National Partnership for Student Success celebrates its second anniversary this July. The initiative, a collaborative effort between AmeriCorps, the US Department of Education, and the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center, was launched in July 2022. It marks a key part of the strategy to mitigate the pandemic’s educational disruptions, revealing and addressing the inequitable challenges and disproportionate impacts on communities across the country.

The initiative came as a response to President Biden’s appeal for 250,000 additional supportive adults to be integrated into schools to counteract the adverse effects of the pandemic on students’ education. Remarkably, within a year of its inception, an estimated 187,000 additional adults stepped up to support students in need.

This year’s celebration is twofold, highlighting not only the second year of the NPSS but also the 30th anniversary of AmeriCorps. Both milestones underscore the enduring commitment to educational support and community service in the United States.

Two AmeriCorps members bestowed with the President’s Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement award. These individuals have notably dedicated over 5,000 hours of service to assisting students in Boston, Massachusetts, through the AARP Foundation Experience Corps program partner, Literations.

Making a Difference One Child at a Time

Volunteers play a crucial role in nurturing young minds and shaping the future. Among these dedicated individuals, Shirley stands out with her incredible journey of service that spans over two decades. Shirley’s service journey with Literations started more than 20 years ago when she saw an advertisement in a community paper inviting volunteers to read with children. With no grandchildren of her own, Shirley decided to spend her time after retirement helping children and families in her community face challenges such as juggling multiple jobs. Shirley felt a strong calling to make a difference by supporting these children.

“My commitment to volunteering was cemented when I met a child who struggled to read and lacked basic alphabet knowledge but displayed remarkable common sense.,” Shirley recalls. Through her persistence and gentle guidance, she saw the child not only master the alphabet and spell basic words by year’s end but also witnessed a remarkable transformation in the child’s self-esteem and interpersonal relationships.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shirley’s work has become even more significant. The disruption in schooling has left many children facing educational setbacks, missing out on foundational knowledge crucial for their academic development. Shirley points out how some students skipped critical years like kindergarten, entering higher grades without basic skills in reading, shapes, and colors, which inevitably places them behind their peers.

“National service plays a vital role in bridging these gaps, providing essential support to help children catch up and succeed academically. And for older national service members like myself, volunteering provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It keeps me actively engaged with my community, and it’s a motivation to give my best to these students because, through service, you see firsthand our efforts change lives.”

Connecting with Children to Support Their Growth Beyond Education

In the South End of Boston, Mass., AmeriCorps member Bill has served more than 10,935 hours so far, helping students become proficient readers. More than just a tutor, Bill’s mentorship of other volunteers has also been crucial in developing a strong and effective team. His remarkable dedication and leadership have made a difference in the community.

Bill’s decision to serve with AmeriCorps is rooted in his belief in the power of personal connection. “I choose to serve with AmeriCorps because I understand the importance of connecting with young students who need the support,” he stated. His approach goes beyond the conventional – aiming to connect on a personal level to tackle literacy challenges effectively.

“I remember a cantankerous boy in a younger grade who couldn’t engage with any of the volunteers in the classroom. So, I decided to take the ‘Dad’ approach. I took the boy for a walk, away from the group, to tell him why reading is so important. I explained that he’d need to know how to read to get his dream job or to drive. But no matter the examples I shared, the boy did not relate, saying, ‘I don’t wanna get a job. I don’t need to learn to drive.’

“He then said, ‘My dad’s in jail, my older brother’s in jail, everybody in my family is in jail. So I’m gonna go to jail and won’t need any of that stuff.’ This was the moment I realized that literacy effort is not just teaching these kids to read. It’s about connecting on a personal level before tackling literacy challenges. The literacy process won’t be effective without developing a relationship with someone.

“After serving for more than 18 years, enduring relationships forged through the program are the greatest reward, especially when I run into these students years later. I once had a young man taller than me come up and say, ‘Hi, Mr. Bill, remember me? You read with me six years ago and it was good experience.’

“Tutoring and volunteering are especially crucial today. Many of the students at my school come from single-parent homes, and the relationships volunteers build can have lasting impacts. As tutors and mentors to these students, setting high expectations is crucial. AmeriCorps members and Experience Corps volunteers provide trusted support, helping to change mindsets and build confidence in these children. Because the more supportive relationships a child has, the more likely they are to believe in their ability to learn and succeed.”

Bill’s work exemplifies the mission of AmeriCorps and underscores the importance of literacy, mentorship, and personal connection in fostering resilient communities and empowering future generations.

AmeriCorps Takes the Lead in Addressing Educational Challenges Nationwide

For the past three decades, AmeriCorps has emerged as a pivotal force in mobilizing manpower to address the most pressing needs in schools across the United States. With a legacy of commitment, AmeriCorps, together with AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers, has become synonymous with providing invaluable support to students, educators, and families grappling with critical educational and mental health issues.

The organization’s impact is widespread, affecting countless communities with the aid of dedicated volunteers like Shirley and Bill, who represent hundreds of thousands of members serving as the much-needed caring adults in school environments and beyond. These efforts have not only bolstered educational outcomes but have significantly contributed to addressing mental health challenges among students.

Learn more about how AmeriCorps, the Department of Education, and national service partners, like the AARP Foundation, are helping our students thrive in and out of school across the country.

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CONTACT: National Service Press Office AmeriCorps (202) 766-2848 [email protected] 

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