What is AmeriCorps?
AmeriCorps is a national service program, similar to the Peace Corps. Each year, over 75,000 individuals of all ages and backgrounds join AmeriCorps to serve at local and national nonprofits across the U.S. In return, AmeriCorps members receive a living allowance to help cover their bills, and an Education Award of up to $5,645 to pay for college, graduate school, qualified student loans and educational expenses.
What is Youth Achievement AmeriCorps?
The Youth Achievement AmeriCorps program leverages the committed service of 15 full-time AmeriCorps members who provide support to children and families in need through early literacy programming, literacy and math tutoring, and enrichment programming in an effort to decrease the achievement gap and get kids on track academically and developmentally. Each Youth Achievement AmeriCorps member serves 1700 hours over the course of the year providing service in the Cedar Rapids community.
What has Youth Achievement AmeriCorps done?
• Expanded from serving two to six schools in the Cedar Rapids School District and went from placing ten to fifteen full-time AmeriCorps members in the community
• Improved program design by engaging nine strong program partners
• Increased federal grant funds from $132,998 in the first three years to $197,020 for years four-six, and increased private and partner dollars from $60,000 to $96,000 annually
Birth to Five Years Old
Issue: Kindergarten preparedness in Cedar Rapids
The Strategy: The Youth Achievement AmeriCorps program increases outreach to low-income parents by serving with the RED Ahead program providing instruction, materials and books to improve the practice of early language and learning skills in young children to ensure they are on-track for school. RED Ahead (Read Every Day to get Ahead) is an early literacy program that provides support for low-income parents to help their children, ages birth to five, develop language and literacy skills that support kindergarten readiness.
The results (FY2014):
- Enrollment goals exceeded: In year three, RED Ahead again continued a strong growth pattern with 1,347 active families enrolled in RED Ahead as of June 30, 2014.
- Books Delivered: 5,539 books were delivered to children between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.
- Children Served: 1,873 low-income children were impacted through RED Ahead supports.
- Parental behavior changes:
- 98% of parents reported they “feel more prepared to support [their] child’s language development and pre-reading skills.”
- 97% of parents practiced additional RED Ahead activities with children.
- 100% of parents reported they are doing additional/other activities
- Children are growing and learning:
- 98% of children maintained or demonstrated developmental progress in language and early literacy skills
Literacy and Math Tutoring
Issue: Persistent achievement gap in Cedar Rapids
To address the achievement gap, the Youth Achievement AmeriCorps program implements the following strategies:
- The Reading Strategy: The Youth Achievement AmeriCorps program works to increase the number of low-income students who are proficient in reading by investing significant time and service in five local elementary schools. AmeriCorps members perform one-on-one or small group tutoring based on student needs using effective tutoring techniques that correspond with school curriculum.
- The Math Strategy: Interventions in middle school play a pivotal role in reducing the achievement gap, improving high school graduation rates, and meeting future job demands. To address middle school math gaps, three full-time Youth Achievement AmeriCorps members serve at McKinley Middle School, identified as a School in Need of Assistance (SINA) for math. Members provide math tutoring in small group and one-on-one settings based on preliminary testing.
The results (2013-2014 school year):
Elementary Tutoring (Grant Wood, Harrison, Johnson, Van Buren)
- Overall, 92% of children tested improved their reading scores from fall to spring.
Middle School Tutoring (McKinley Middle)
- Overall, 84% of students tested improved their math scores from 2013- 2014.
- 72% of these students met or exceeded their expected growth in math as opposed to only 60% of students who did not receive consistent AmeriCorps intervention.
Elementary and Middle School (Grant Wood, Harrison, Johnson, McKinley, Van Buren)
- 3,735 hours of in-school tutoring and academic support were provided by AmeriCorps members
- 352 students were seen across school sites for academic support, with 88 students identified by schools to receive consistent weekly tutoring assistance from AmeriCorps members, with additional students receiving enrichment support by AmeriCorps members though in-school and after-school programming.
- Of students who consistently attended tutoring intervention with AmeriCorps members, 87% grew in their specified tutoring topic (reading or math).
Issue: Not all students are engaged in their community or school
- The STEM Strategy: Youth Achievement AmeriCorps members engage McKinley Middle School students in a summer STEM Academy. The STEM Academy programming includes projects, speakers and interactive field trips to local businesses such as Rockwell Collins, Kirkwood Community College, and Alliant Energy, designed to engage students in high-demand fields as well as provide them experiences they might not otherwise have access to.
Year 3 Progress (2013-2014 school year):
• Two topics (Energy and Avionics) were offered for two sessions (8 weeks total).
• 30 students explored science, engineering and math careers through the McKinley STEM Academy
• 87% of those consistently in attendance indicated they wanted to learn more about science
Over the 2014-15 program year, program representatives are redesigning a school year STEM initiative in collaboration with community partners and volunteers to be launched in the fall of 2015.
- In-school and after-school enrichment: For the past three years, Youth Achievement AmeriCorps members have served in after-school and summer programs, including Kids on Course and Jane Boyd Community House, to engage youth in meaningful academic and enrichment programming. They assist with various enrichment activities including: family club, lunch groups, science enrichment, after-school enrichment groups (topics vary), and structured outdoor activities.