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AmeriCorps is a Life Shaping Experience
Today’s guest post is written by Melissa Grober-Morrow, who served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Chicago directly after college, and is currently the Director of Strategic Partnerships at HandsOn Network.
After graduating from college I was looking to get nonprofit experience and I wanted to live in a new city. I decided to apply for AmeriCorps positions in Chicago having never been there. With my tutoring and community service coordination experience, I was brought on by the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute to run their STEP reading improvement program at a public K-8 school in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, which was a diverse, low-income area of the city.
As an AmeriCorps VISTA I managed the program, liaised with the school administrators and teachers, supervised a team of AmeriCorps Direct members who served as tutors, and submitted quarterly reports on the students’ progress. I also served as a parent coordinator at the school. I conducted bilingual parent meetings and partnered with community organizations to bring in resources for parents, such as ESL classes, GED and Adult Basic Education classes, and inexpensive computers. I published and distributed monthly a bilingual parent newsletter and conducted a health and services fair for parents at the end of the school year. After the school year ended I served on the hiring committee for new teachers and took a talented group of female students to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to expose them to a college setting and to participate in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program.
I really enjoyed working with and providing resources to the parents that I leveraged my experience to get a job as Adult Education Program Manager at New York Cares. The rest is history!
AmeriCorps was one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences of my life. If you’re looking for a life-shaping experience, or if you just want to see what nonprofit work is all about, join AmeriCorps and see where it takes you!