“Life’s most persistent and urgent questions is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Every morning, AmeriCorps members wake up with the goal of answering this question. Today marks the 20th year corps members have been “doing for others,” through service in communities all across the country. To date, more than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have served more than 1.2 billions hours in thousands of communities, benefiting millions of Americans. You may see them working with community centers to improve schools, teaming up with community leaders to fight poverty, lending a hand to rebuild after a disaster, or leading any number of other valuable service activities. For 20 years they have been making a positive impact on these communities through their work and have inspired others to demonstrate their civic duty to service through volunteerism. They have been #GettingThingsDone.
AmeriCorps started in 1993, when President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act, signifying a national commitment to community service. The following year, on September 12, 1994, the very first cohort of 20,000 AmeriCorps corps took the pledge to serve. Since then, AmeriCorps has been effectively mobilizing their volunteers through service and preparing them to be strong, empathetic and civic-minded leaders.
One of these leaders (and a current member of the Case Foundation team), Sarah Koch, attributes her year in AmeriCorps, at La Clinica del Pueblo, in Washington DC, for her decision to work in the nonprofit sector. Sarah is the current Director of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation, and said of her year in the corps, “I was able to immerse myself in a new community and gain an understanding of their unique needs and a working knowledge of how I, as an individual and as a part of a team, could better serve the people of that community. My experience in AmeriCorps is one of the main reasons I continue working in support of nonprofits today.”
As a foundation that values citizen-centered solutions, the Case Foundation is motivated by the success and innovation of all AmeriCorps programs. We are inspired by how effectively they have grown our national tradition of service and have catalyzed generations of young and old people in civic and community engagement.
For 15 years we have proudly supported a local AmeriCorps program, City Year DC, the Washington, DC, chapter of the larger national organization, City Year. City Year has been able to successfully adapt their approach to community service through educational support with the bold goal of ending the high school dropout crisis. They are focusing their corps members on specific patterns of at risk student behavior; and through group and one-on-one interventions are getting these students on track for on time graduation. Last year, City Year DC mobilized more than 150 corps members in 13 schools in the District, impacting 4,700 students. Nationally, each year, City Year trains approximately 3,000 corps members for service in schools. Our foundation continues to take great pride in this partnership and our direct insight into City Year’s evolution as they improve their ability to meet the unique needs of at risk students.
Each AmeriCorps member takes a pledge as they set out on their service year. The message of these words drives them as AmeriCorps volunteers, and in their future work and civic lives.
I will get things done for America – to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.
I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities. Faced with apathy, I will take action.
Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity, I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.
AmeriCorps asks, “Do you want to make our country stronger? (If you are not an AmeriCorps member, just change the words ‘AmeriCorps member’ to ‘American.’”) To join in on the celebration of service and to your own positive impact in our nation’s communities, we hope you will take the pledge for service today!
Check out these resources for more information on AmeriCorps’ 20th Anniversary and details on how you can support or become an AmeriCorps member.