Building Capacity and Connecting with Communities: A Spotlight on AmeriCorps Service at Duke
AmeriCorps programs hold an important role in strengthening communities and building the capacity of organizations on the local level. AmeriCorps is a program supported by the federal government with a mission to connect communities, local organizations, and individuals as they engage in public service and tackle our nation’s most pressing challenges. National service members across the state of North Carolina engage with community organizations by collaborating on projects, problem solving, and establishing sustainable structures for programs that benefit their neighbors. At Duke University, AmeriCorps programs provide many opportunities for members to serve with the mission of doing direct service and building capacity in community and campus-based organizations.
Each year, AmeriCorps aims to showcase the dedication of its members and highlight national service during a week of celebration in March. Although we are not able to physically come together this year, the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and NC LeaderCorps are hosting a virtual celebration of AmeriCorps programs and members in our state during AmeriCorps Week on March 7th – 13th, 2021. LeaderCorps is a cohort of NC AmeriCorps members serving as representatives for their programs across the state. This cohort comes together to collaborate on ways to emphasize the value of national service and allow current NC AmeriCorps members to share resources and knowledge with one another.
In this year’s cohort, there are currently three LeaderCorps members representing programs at Duke from NC LiteracyCorps, College Advising Corps, and NC Afterschool Corps. As AmeriCorps Week approaches, we are highlighting 4 programs and nearly 50 members that reflect these goals of national service and contribute meaningful work in their roles at Duke.
The mission of the NC LiteracyCorps is to increase the education skills and opportunities of North Carolina children and adults through tutoring, small group teaching, classroom assistance, or capacity-building activities that strengthen an organization’s abilities to increase educational achievement and opportunities in local communities.
Since its launch in June 2020, Duke University North Carolina LiteracyCorps has placed 15 half-time AmeriCorps members in local service agencies. Some of the partnerships this year include Duke University Partners for Success, Durham Children’s Initiative, KIPP Durham College Preparatory, and Book Harvest: Durham, NC. By summer 2021, the program plans to add an additional 50 members to the cohort.
Afterschool Corps members are placed on campus or community host sites to support and develop educational programs that serve low-income students and families. The Duke America Reads/America Counts (ARAC) Community Engagement Specialist works to expand afterschool programming in Durham through volunteer and Federal Work Study recruitment, best practices, and program evaluation to fit volunteer and learner needs.
ARAC is a federally-funded work study program that employs Duke University students in tutoring and teaching assistant roles across Durham Public Schools and youth-serving organizations. Operated from the Office of Durham and Community Affairs, this program provides members with opportunities to connect with local students and support them as they strive to reach their goals in literacy and math. This year, there are 106 Duke students currently placed virtually in tutoring roles across 12 sites in Durham – including Audacity Labs, Carter Community Charter School, Student U, and Durham Literacy Center.
Jumpstart is a national early education organization working toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed by recruiting and supporting caring adults to deliver high-quality programming to preschool children.
As an inaugural year, Duke’s new chapter starts this spring with a new team of 19 Jumpstart Corps Members, including 13 AmeriCorps members partnering with local preschool centers and organizations like Families Moving Forward, Refugee Community Partnership, and Book Harvest. Duke Jumpstart hopes to continue recruiting additional members as the program expands.
College Advising Corps (CAC) recruits and places well-trained, recent college graduates as full-time, near-peer college advisers in the nation’s underserved schools and communities to provide the support that students need to navigate the complex processes of college admissions, securing financial aid and enrolling in schools that serve them well.
Duke University College Advising Corps works to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college and underrepresented high school students in rural North Carolina enter and complete higher education. In their current cohort, Duke CAC has 17 AmeriCorps members and 2 AmeriCorps alumni staff members. This year, Duke CAC members are serving local Durham County students at C.E. Jordan High School, City of Medicine Academy, Northern High School, and Riverside High School.
To learn more about AmeriCorps Week and engage in the celebration of national service, be sure to follow @NCVolunteer on Instagram and Facebook from March 7 – 13.
To learn more about Americorps nationally, visit americorps.gov.