Service Year Alliance is bringing together leaders from states, communities, and service year programs that are leveraging service years to respond to community needs and addressing challenges facing the service year field. Currently, we are leading the following learning cohorts:
Shared Recruitment Learning Cohort
With support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Service Year Alliance, in March 2022, launched a learning cohort with five Impact Communities. The learning cohort is focused on shared recruitment strategies and engages each Impact Community’s shared recruiter — the person who focuses on recruitment for a portfolio of programs in a specific community. While this model is funded and structured differently in each community, the shared recruiter is at least a part-time staff member whose focus is building-up the recruitment pipeline for programs across the Impact Community.
To learn from and better support the shared recruiter role(s), Service Year Alliance launched our first Community Learning Cohort. While Service Year Alliance brings together learning cohorts often, this one is particularly unique in that it is focused on how programs can come together to bolster outcomes for all corps members and community members touched by national service.
The primary goals of the cohort are to:
- Understand the various roles of a local shared recruiter position and why/how communities create and fund these positions
- Identify best practices and pilot a shared recruitment tool with the cohort
- Develop standard measures and data collection procedures to track the results of a shared recruitment approach in impacting local and diverse recruitment
We are excited to engage the following five Impact Communities:
From installing renewable energy systems to restoring watersheds to supporting disaster resilience efforts and more, the national service field is well positioned to provide solutions to climate change and train the next generation of climate leaders. Service Year Alliance will convene, support, and then disseminate learnings from a small group of programs to understand the models, challenges, and opportunities in utilizing national service in support of the climate and workforce development fields.
Climate cohort organizations include:
- Ampact's Climate Impact Corps
- Mile High Youth Corps
- Green Iowa AmeriCorps
- Rural Action AmeriCorps
- Rare AmeriCorps
- Sustainability Institute
- PowerCorps PHL
High School Transitions Learning Cohort
With support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Service Year Alliance launched a High School Transitions Learning Cohort with 8 service year programs focused on increasing the number and quality of service year positions that offer recent high school graduates a strong postsecondary transition pathway. The primary goals of the cohort are to:
- Develop a quality definition for engaging recent high school graduates with particular focus on individuals from economically disadvantaged and racially diverse backgrounds in service year programs
- Utilize this definition to inform the cohort of service year programs to develop and implement programmatic elements and strategies to better support high school graduates;
- Increase engagement of recent high school graduates into services by driving awareness and increasing the number of opportunities for high school graduates to serve and;
- Disseminate best practices and key findings to promote engagement of high school graduates in the service year field.
We are pleased to partner with these organizations:
- American Youthworks, Austin, TX
- Cherry Health, Grand Rapids, MI
- City Year, National
- CivicWorks, Baltimore, MD
- GRID Alternatives, National
- Improve Your Tomorrow, Stockton, CA
- Partners for Education at Berea College, Berea, KY
- Serve Philadelphia VISTA Program, Philadelphia, PA
At the beginning of this project, the service year field was largely hesitant to engage high school graduates in service years and many Cohort participants struggled to provide ideal, quality service year experiences for their corps members. Through the development of the Quality Definition and Quality Continuum — and with the guidance of external stakeholders and partners, as well as the perspectives of high school graduates themselves — Cohort programs were able to make progress in areas of highest priority for their organization.
This work made clear that prioritizing corps member training and development and providing specific support and resources for corps members is critical for service year programs to recruit and engage individuals after high school in a service year. These strategies not only help programs to strengthen their candidate pool, but also increase the likelihood that programs successfully retain those corps members throughout the full year of service, while enhancing the ability to achieve your service intervention and creating a stronger experience that puts corps members on a pathway to success in post-service career and education opportunities.
As your program utilizes the Quality Continuum and aims to improve upon various quality indicators to better recruit, engage, and support individuals after high school, Service Year Alliance encourages you to also explore and adopt its Corps Member Curriculum: Strengthening Service Years as a Postsecondary Option.
With generous support from Cisco, Service Year Alliance convened a COVID-19 Response and Recovery learning cohort from May 2020 through September 2021 that included representatives from state service commissions and service year programs that led these efforts to utilize service year corps members to support the public health response to COVID-19. The primary goals of this cohort were to lift up local learnings, collectively work through challenges and barriers, and to document the different models that came together to have service year corps members support the response to public health needs. While the cohort had an initial focus on utilizing service year corps members for contact tracing for much of 2020, as community needs shifted during the pandemic — particularly as COVID-19 vaccines started to become available — the group also expanded in 2021 to include new participants and took on an expanded focus on programming related to vaccine distribution and equity.
You can review our white paper — Service Years as a Strategy for Adapting to Emergent Community Needs: A COVID-19 Response & Recovery Case Study that shares examples, insights, and learnings that came out of this learning cohort, as well as relevant examples from elsewhere nationally, to demonstrate how national service was utilized to help scale the public health response to COVID-19.