Why Join City Year?

eosAre you a recent college or high school graduate? Do you like working with students? Have you observed that there is room for improvement with the education system in our country? Do you want to make a difference in this world? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have the answer for you!

Welcome to City Year; an AmeriCorps program that works in inner city schools to help at-risk students get back on track and graduate on time. As a City Year Corps Member, you will work on a team of young, idealistic adults who serve in classrooms to assist students with English, mathematics, behavior and attendance.

Enough with the business pitch; what are the REAL reasons you should join City Year? Let me give you five:

  1. Super Cool Uniforms! Suddenly, you transform from an average joe, to a super hero in a Red Jacket. You are a symbol of hope and trust, not to mention that jacket looks amazing with a pair of khakis!
  2. Friendships! You will literally live, eat, breathe, learn, cry and grow with the same group of people for 10 months… friendship? I’d say more like family.
  3. Professional Development! Can you see yourself as an all-star teacher? A CEO? Doctor? City Year lets you hit the ground running as you learn to challenge your comfort zones and expand your horizons.(Not to mention it looks GREAT on a resume).
  4. “For the cash, yo.” No, most people do not do this for the money… while the living stipend provided is not one for luxury, it does give you enough to live comfortably. BONUS: When you finish your 1700 hours, you will receive a scholarship which you can put towards your own educational dreams! Building others up and yourself at the same time: Can you say DOUBLE WIN?
  5. Last and most importantly: You have the opportunity to change the life of at least one child. And that is a beautiful thing.

The benefits of this program are more than a blog post can explain. City Year is your opportunity to leave your mark on someone’s heart, infuse hope where it has been lost and take part in something that is greater than yourself. The experience is almost inexplicable… but I can promise you, if you join City Year; it will change you for the better.

-Emily O’Sullivan, Team Leader ’14-’15 CYCO


How City Year Affects My Future

Tom Valentine

CYCO Corps Member Tom Valentine

Working for City Year has been a wonderful, challenging, and educational experience. It has been a challenge working with children that continually test my patience, however it has been wonderful building relationships with students and seeing their progress academically and behaviorally. I have learned how to work with and build meaningful relationships with children, as well as how to work effectively with my teacher partner. I have enjoyed working in a turn-around school and being an active part of making the school a strong learning environment—I can already see some glimpses of the fruits of our labor. Working with such an amazing group of individuals has been great, and I would not have traded my City Year experience for anything.

Being a member of City Year helped strengthen my resume and gave me much to talk about during my medical school interviews. After my residency training, I plan to continue serving others by volunteering at free clinics in areas similar to where we serve, and I hope to take trips abroad to serve in third-world countries. Through City Year, I have seen the need of those underserved and why service to such areas is important. Providing medical care to such a population would provide a much needed three-tiered support—helping the individual, helping the family unit, and helping the community as a whole. Such an impact takes time, and I am so excited to become part of a service-oriented medical school, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. City Year has helped me to develop professionalism, confidence with working closely with co-workers, working on time-management skills, and learn to work with students that can test my patience. I hope to continue my service, and I thank City Year for such an amazing experience this year.

-Tom Valentine, CYCO ’14-’15 Corps Member

City Year Columbus Makes a Difference

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City Year AmeriCorps members took part in Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 25. This team picked up trash, scraped off old signs on buildings, and put down fresh mulch in front of a Parsons Ave store.

October 25 began as a chilly day to serve. I was overjoyed to find breakfast and coffee awaiting the volunteers. It warmed my heart, if not my toes. As the sign-in area became overrun with City Year red jackets, I felt a rush of pride to be part of a group that encourages young people to take a look around and make difference. I was even more moved by the presence of community volunteers.

It’s easier, I think, to be a part of community service when your group encourages you to do it. To commit as in individual is a level of dedication that I am only beginning to understand. I have learned, through my service with teams, how I can serve as an individual.

Make a Difference Day was a special day for me this year. As I worked alongside my City Year teammates pulling weeds and laying mulch, I remembered a day much like this a year ago. Last year was my first work day with my AmeriCorps National Civilian Conservation Corps (NCCC) team. I was on the other side of the country in California. There are many differences between last year and this year. It was a different project and a different team, but the commitment to making a difference was the same. As I reflected on the journey from this day one year ago, I realized how much making a difference for others has made a difference for me.

On my first project, my team and I worked to restore a learning garden at a school. Many more projects would follow over the course of ten months. I knew nothing about yard work, or mulching, or identifying weeds, or the teamwork it would take to accomplish such tasks. Today, with a new team, I set out to mulch an area on Parsons Ave., in an effort to support the work of Keep Columbus Beautiful. We carried about 12 bags of mulch in wagons. It was really heavy, but we worked together. With two people pulling the wagon and one person pushing, we made it uphill both ways, as we got lost and went over the bridge on Parsons twice. When we arrived at the work site, it was immediately apparent that we were not going to have enough mulch to finish the job. After a quick conference, we found a solution. I was surprised to find myself taking a leadership role with this new team. I was even more surprised at how natural it felt to lay out a game plan, set bags of mulch, and compromise with limited resources.

With a year of service behind me and a year ahead, I realized the value of the skills I had learned last year. I went from needing a coach and a guide for every new problem in yard work to being able to problem solve for myself and a group. That realization inspired me to think: where will I be making a difference next year? Not only that, but: what am I currently struggling with that I will be able to do proficiently a year from now?

We serve to make a difference for others, but today I realized how much of a difference service has made in my life. I’ve learned that I can’t live without it. No matter where the journey takes me next, I’ll be around for Make a Difference Day 2016. See you there.

Kathleen Griffin, City Year Diplomas Now AmeriCorps Member, Mifflin High School

Insight from a Returning Corps Member

Grace Campos will be returning as a Team Leader for the 2014-2015 school year. In a CYCO blog exclusive, she shares some advice and wisdom for incoming corps members.

Grace Campos, first year corps member to Team Leader

Grace Campos, first year corps member to Team Leader

As an incoming Corps member, you have just signed up to serve a cause greater than yourself. Give yourself a solid high-five. This experience is going to be exciting, life changing, and might even be the most difficult thing you will ever do in your life… But it’s all going to be worth it.

However, before all that, I want to expose you to some facts in the life of a service warrior.

First of all, you will form a new kind of family filled with laughter, support, misunderstandings, and miscommunications. Additionally, realize that you will be working with a diverse group of people with different levels of professionalism. Keep an open heart and an open mind. Also, life will be easier if you are organized. There will be a lot of paper shuffling and due dates are nonnegotiable. You think you know yourself? Think again. Prepare to discover your personality. Student, staff, fellow corps members, and your manager will definitely push you to your limits. Personally, I love a good pen. Do you as well? Prepare to lose it. Accept that your social life will consist of your fellow corps members. In other aspects, always remember that you will be highly recognized by people in and out of City Year, learn to keep your feet on the ground. Lastly, City Year experience is what you put into it; expect to expand your comfort zone and at the end of the day, success is how you define it.

I look forward to serving with you soon!

– Grace Campos, Senior Corps Member 2014-2015, the CSX team at South High

Dear Future Corps Member

Dear Future Corps Member,

Welcome to City Year. You have been given an opportunity to change lives and impact others in ways you didn’t know possible. It’s ok if you feel nervous or overwhelmed; it’s a pretty big responsibility. Just remember, you have been chosen because you have the potential to be great.


The most literal future corps member. City Year onesie (and more!) available in the City Year store! http://cityyearstore.myshopify.com/

The most important piece of advice I can share with you is to appreciate every single moment. Your year of service will fly by, so do everything you can to make the most of it and enjoy the experience for what it is. The good moments will fuel you with idealism and positivity. The not so good moments will keep you humble and help you grow. Everyone will make mistakes, but learning how to deal with those mistakes is what will make you and your team better.

Take time to appreciate your team. Your team is your support system and will become your family. Just like any family, you may argue and fight, but at the end of the day, your team will be there for you.

Do your best to make the most of of every opportunity possible. You will be exhausted, but make an effort to attend those extra hour events. City Year provides some pretty awesome experiences, but it’s up to you to take advantage of them.

Thank you for committing to a year of service, I am excited for you to make better happen!

Yours in Service,
Ashley Dzurnak
Senior Corps Member, the AT&T team at Linden McKinley STEM Academy

Letting Go

These 10 months have been an exhilarating ride, filled with indescribable highs and a few devastating lows. The changing altitude has left me breathless, and as the last few weeks of service are approaching, it is almost time to catch my breath and gaze back at what I have accomplished.

The knowledge that I have 10 mere days to spend with my class before we part ways forever brings me to my knees. Saying goodbye to my 20 high school freshmen—students I have tutored, mentored, defended, supported, loved with all of my heart—will be the greatest challenge of this immensely challenging year. I now see with intense clarity how fleeting my entrance into my students’ lives has been. I first met them not 9 months ago, and now that they finally trust me completely, I am leaving. My kids will still face the same barriers, both in and out of school, that I spent a year trying to help them overcome. And until thousands more volunteers devote part of their lives to changing the lives of others, these obstacles will still impose upon millions of kids across America.

Still, I will go to Boston University next year and begin my studies as a Sociology & Political Science major. I hope to continue fighting for the right to a proper education. Besides, I’m not saying goodbye to my students forever. I promised them I will be back in Columbus in May 2017, just in time for their high school graduation.

— Micah Baum, First Year Corps Member, the Chase Team at Mifflin High School

Beloved Community

Dear City Year Columbus 2013-14,

You have spent this school year putting students first- tutoring, mentoring, caring for them. When your schedule piled up to overwhelming, when tragedy bulldozed your hopes, you took time to take care of you. And through all that, you’ve been collaborating, relying on each each other, being real with your teammates and showing grace, building trust. I’m encouraged by the community we’ve created this year, and I want to thank you for all the ways you’ve cared for me.

Though there are many who deserve personal recognition, I want to take a moment to focus out on the culture we’ve built among ourselves. The relationships we have with our teams and as a corps didn’t simply crop up out of nowhere like weeds and wildflowers. While it could be said that our support system is organic, I want to recognize how well its been cultivated. While I value the natural, effortless friendships that have blossomed, I have a deep gratitude for the work that has gone into sustaining a diverse ecosystem of personalities and leadership styles. When I speak from my experience this year, I do so knowing that I only have a small piece of the whole picture, and that my piece is connected to many others.

This year has not been easy. I’m not alone when I say that there were days I wanted to give up on my students. I’m not the only corps member who’s felt like a failure, powerless to bring about any meaningful change. My team is not unique in having lost a teammate. My student was not the first to be victimized. I have experienced frustration, anger, apathy, disappointment disrespect, weariness, and grief, but I was never required to walk through these experiences alone.

After I had a tough week, members of my IJ group reached out to me just to check in. When I had transportation issues, corps members from every team ensured that I could get wherever I needed to be for service. In every challenging situation, I had teammates who were willing to talk things through and find solutions. When I asked for feedback, I received genuine feedback. Thank you for your professionalism, your honesty, and your comradery. It takes intentionally and humility to build a culture with these attributes, and I am grateful for the effort you’ve invested to make City Year a place where I have been able to grow so much.


— Ben Jenkins, First Year Corps Member at Mifflin Middle School