The cofounders of City Year, a nonprofit that serves communities by bridging the divide between what schools and teachers can offer and what students actually need, have big plans for growth.
“We currently serve around 150,000 students,” says Michael Brown, City Year CEO, explaining that his goals include doubling the percentage of students on track to graduate, reaching a majority of students deemed as off track and expanding to new cities.
“We want to serve 850,000 students over the next 10 years, and we’ll need a corps of over 10,000 City Year AmeriCorps members to do it.”
As part of a series of live Google Hangouts On Air featuring service opportunities, NationSwell interviewed Brown and his cofounder, Alan Khazei, along with a current corps member and a City Year alumnus.
While City Year is creating thousands of opportunities to serve, this country lacks the expectation of service — something the organization hopes to address. Like the Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute, which is looking to mobilize a million young people to serve, City Year envisions a future in which “the most commonly-asked question of an 18-year-old will be, ‘Where will you do your service year?’”
“It’s so important for young people to serve because it really connects us to the greater world,” says Lan Truong, a City Year corps member based in Boston, explaining that service connects us to something bigger than ourselves. “We get to make our country better and make our people better.”
“A year of service changes you,” adds Marissa Rodriguez, who went from City Year to become the Training & Operations Manager at Boston Scholar Athletes (which works to improve academic performance through sports). “For us to be able to sort of find the way that we can continue to make an impact is so key and will continue to grow the opportunity that a year of service provides.”
Khazei says that recapturing the service ethic in America would change our country in profound ways, adding that the Greatest Generation was that way because they served together. “If we had a year of service as a common expectation, every generation would become the Greatest Generation,” he says.
Watch the video above, then click the Take Action button to learn how you can join NationSwell and The Franklin Project to spread the word on service year opportunities, and make sure to tweet your thoughts and questions using the #serviceyear hashtag.