Colleges and universities make AmeriCorps work

March 16, 2015

ac-week-logo-600x258Last week we celebrated AmeriCorps Week, an annual recognition of AmeriCorps alums, programs, and members who get things done to make our communities better! North Carolina Campus Compact has been a proud AmeriCorps VISTA program sponsor since 2003, and our VISTA members past and present have worked to develop many successful campus community partnerships. But our program is not the only AmeriCorps project in North Carolina that furthers the public service mission of higher education. Several college and universities sponsor their own unique AmeriCorps programs.

In the eastern part of the state, at least three prominent university-sponsored AmeriCorps programs are getting things done. At UNC Wilmington, the Quality Enhancement for Non-profit Organizations (QENO) project sponsors an AmeriCorps VISTA program that places members at human service non-profits in New Hanover and surrounding counties to build organizational capacity and strengthen volunteer management processes. At Fayetteville State University, an AmeriCorps VISTA project sponsored by the Office of College Access Programs places members at local high schools and youth development agencies to support college access programming for low-income youth. Finally, at East Carolina University’s College of Education, an exciting state AmeriCorps program called Operation Link mobilizes AmeriCorps members to work with elementary and middle school children of military families on STEM and robotics programs.

UNC-Chapel Hill hosts two prominent AmeriCorps programs: the NC Literacy Corps and the College Advising Corps. The NC Literacy Corps is hosted by UNC’s SCALE, the Student Coalition for Action in Literacy. Literacy Corps members serve as tutors, teachers, and program developers at campus and community-based literacy organizations across the state. The College Advising Corps is also hosted by UNC-Chapel Hill, though the organization works through 24 partner colleges and universities across the country to place recent graduates at underserved high schools as near-peer college access mentors and advisors. In North Carolina alone, the Carolina Advising Corps serves over 50 high schools across the state. Most of the advisor positions are AmeriCorps placements.

UNC Greensboro’s Center for New North Carolinians sponsors the AmeriCorps ACCESS project, which places AmeriCorps members at non-profit agencies in 8 counties to help immigrant and refugee families access human services, become economically self-sufficient, and build bridges between immigrant and mainstream communities.

Finally, a number of campuses across our state are home to Bonner programs, many of which are supported by AmeriCorps Education Award funds. These competitive merit and need-based scholarships focus on developing the next generation of community service leaders by placing undergrads in volunteer roles at local non-profits. AmeriCorps affiliated Bonner programs in North Carolina are currently active at Warren Wilson College, Mars Hill College, and Pfeiffer University.

No doubt there are countless other examples of connections and partnerships between AmeriCorps programs and colleges and universities in our state. The Corporation for National and COmmunity Service, the federal agency that manages AmeriCorps, compiles a complete profile of North Carolina’s AmeriCorps programs. Together, we are all working to get things done.