AmeriCorps members are strengthening the Dorchester community

By Barbara Moffat and Emily Haber

 In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy asked Americans what they could do for their country. Nearly 60 years later, thousands are answering that question by serving in AmeriCorps, a national service program administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Across Massachusetts, 2,400 AmeriCorps members are serving this year, addressing the Commonwealth’s most pressing needs in the areas of education, health, workforce development, and the environment.

 The week of March 10-16 is AmeriCorps Week, which celebrates the valuable contributions of the AmeriCorps members who pledge to “get things done” for America. In Massachusetts, AmeriCorps members are tutoring and mentoring at-risk youth pre-K through high school, expanding access to recovery and treatment services for those struggling with opioid addiction, preparing communities for natural disasters, teaching young people how to grow and cook nutritious foods, providing support services to refugees and immigrants, preserving and rehabilitating our forests and waters, and more.

 This year, over 80 AmeriCorps members are serving in Dorchester through several AmeriCorps programs. City Year Boston members are providing full classroom support and academic engagement services at Mather Elementary, Holmes Elementary, McCormack Middle, and TechBoston Academy. AmeriCorps members serving with Boston University’s College Advising Corps are helping young adults with college readiness, advising, and support at Boston Arts Academy, the Community Academy of Science and Health, the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School, and TechBoston.

Jumpstart Massachusetts has college students from Emerson, Suffolk University, and UMass Boston providing early childhood literacy education at several Dorchester Head Starts and child learning centers. Other AmeriCorps members serving in Dorchester are assisting refugees and immigrants with job readiness, citizenship, and English language instruction at Mujeres Unidas Avanzado; facilitating academic enrichment and college exploration programs for young adults at VietAID and MassCOSH; mobilizing volunteers at All Dorchester Sports and Leadership as well as Codman Square Health Center; and more.

 Whether it’s serving a year in a pre-K classroom or on the trails in our state parks, our dedicated AmeriCorps members are making lasting change in cities and towns all across this great Commonwealth. They are meeting local needs, they are developing leadership skills, and for many, they will choose to stay in Massachusetts after their year of service and remain active and engaged citizens making a difference in our communities every day.

 AmeriCorps members in Massachusetts may receive a modest living allowance, student loan deferment, health insurance, childcare, and professional development. Members who successfully complete their service receive an educational award of up to $6,095 to help pay for college, graduate school, vocational training, or to pay off student loans.

 Since AmeriCorps began in 1994, more than 35,000 Massachusetts residents have served through the national service program, generating over $1.13 billion in community impact.  These AmeriCorps members have also earned $63.2 million in education awards. Those interested in joining AmeriCorps can learn more at AmeriCorps.gov/join.

Barbara Moffat is the Associate Vice President for Media and Community Relations at Western New England University in Springfield. She serves as the Chair of the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA).Emily Haber is the CEO of the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA). MSA administers federal AmeriCorps grants to 25 programs in Massachusetts, supporting 1,400 AmeriCorps members.

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