Monday, September 20, 2010

City Year's 20th U.S. Location Launches - City Year Milwaukee

City Year News
City Year Milwaukee Launches to Help Keep Students In School & On Track 

City Year is pleased to announce the founding of its 20th U.S. location, City Year Milwaukee, launched with support from AmeriCorps, the private sector and Milwaukee Public Schools. Sixty City Year Milwaukee corps members are working to keep students in school and on track to graduate.

To read City Year's press release on the founding of City Year Milwaukee, click here.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel carried the following article on the launch of City Year Milwaukee on its front page this week:
City Year Gets Rolling in Milwaukee Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
By Erin Richards

Photo by Tom Lynn
It's 9:50 on a Thursday morning at Eighty-First Street School, and the eighth-graders are learning math.
The material is standard - integers - but the number of adults in the room is definitely different from last year. While the teacher lectures, two 20-somethings in red tops, khaki pants and work boots roam the rows of students, bending over to help with a problem here, offering an encouraging shoulder rub there.
They are part of City Year, a national nonprofit service organization that places young adults in low-income schools for a year to tutor and mentor students. During their time in schools - which is every day except Fridays, when they're in training - corps members are especially focused on helping kids who exhibit risk factors associated with dropping out.
City Year, part of AmeriCorps services, started in Boston and now operates in 20 domestic and two international sites. Milwaukee launched the program this year thanks to a $1 million challenge grant from the David and Julia Uihlein Charitable Foundation, as well as money from Milwaukee Public Schools.
"The young people in the program who serve as mentors and tutors are motivated advocates of the value of education," MPS Superintendent Greg Thornton said. "They have succeeded as students, and our students will benefit from working with those role models."
Sticking out in the crowd
Milwaukee's 60 City Year members are split among Eighty-First Street School, Rogers Street Academy, Northwest Secondary School, Alexander Mitchell School, Roosevelt School of the Arts and South Division High School, and it's hard to miss them at work.

First, they are young - between the ages of 17 and 24. Second, they're in uniform: a red City Year sweatshirt, jacket or vest over a white polo or collared shirt, khaki pants and work boots by Timberland, a major corporate sponsor.
The dress code is intentional; City Year wants to be noticed. The organizers want students to associate the adults in red with safety, consistency and support. They want the community to see their jackets on the bus. They want people to tap them on the shoulder and ask, "What's City Year?"
"The idea is that you do your sophomore year, junior year, senior year, and then you do your city year," explained Laura Perez, 22, a Milwaukee native who recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Perez, a project leader, added: "Our dream is that it gets to the " point where everyone asks, 'Where'd you do your city year?'
More than tutorsBack at Eighty-First Street School, the eighth-graders have transitioned to English class and City Year corps member Adetoun Atewogboye, 22, is watching her charges.

Photo by Tom Lynn
She notices some girls quietly picking on a peer because the tracks from her hair weave are showing. At 12 or 13, it's the kind of thing that can ruin your day, or even your week.
Atewogboye walks the girl out into the hallway and backs her up to a locker. The child stares at her feet. Atewogboye plays with her hair, offers some comforting advice.
"You're not going to remember any of these people once you're out of high school," she tells her.
The City Year members are spending the mornings in schools to get to know all the students' names and behaviors, and each school's culture. Starting Wednesday, they'll be in schools Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to at least 5:30 p.m. At that point they'll be pulling out students for one-on-one tutoring sessions or helping groups of students catch up to expected proficiency levels.
Each City Year corps member provides extra support for 10 predetermined students who seem the most at risk of failing.
"I want City Year to work with kids who would normally fall through the cracks," said Eighty-First Street Principal Maggy Olson. She often sees the students who act up; it's the ones who are quieter who may need just as much attention.
Olson, 31, is starting her second year as principal and aggressively pursued being chosen for City Year. Her school was one of 22 that applied.
"My problem is I didn't have the human capital to implement the changes I want to see," Olson said.
Funding for City Year, which costs about $300,000 per school, comes from three main sources: the federal government's AmeriCorps program, the school district and local private funding, said Jason Holton, 32, executive director of City Year Milwaukee. MPS has committed to a $500,000-per-year contract for three years with the organization, he added.
Amping up education
The pay for corps members, however, is paltry. They take home about $700 a month for a living stipend. But after they finish a year of service, AmeriCorps provides educational awards of $5,350 that members can use to pay off student loans or pursue further education.

The organization prides itself on intense levels of enthusiasm; members learn chants and rituals and perform weekly "unity rallies" on Friday mornings that include group calisthenics. At 8 a.m., anyone passing by the east end of Wisconsin Ave. will see tight lines of red-jacketed corps members cheering, chanting and doing jumping jacks and lunges in unison.
On Oct. 1, Milwaukee corps members will take part in City Year's nationwide kickoff by hosting local activities in Cathedral Square Park at 4:30 p.m. for school staff, parents and the community.
Holton acknowledges that some of the organization's behaviors have been perceived as cult-like. But to those in City Year, he said, it's a public display of all that the organization stands for: spirit, discipline, purpose, pride and a commitment to improving the lives of those around you.
City Year unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world. As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders help children stay in school and on track, and transform schools and communities across the United States, as well as through international affiliates in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, England.

Founded in Boston in 1988, City Year has established programs in Boston; Chicago; Cleveland; Columbia, SC; Columbus; Detroit; Little Rock/North Little Rock; Los Angeles; Louisiana: Baton Rouge; Louisiana: New Orleans; Miami; Milwaukee; New Hampshire; New York; Greater Philadelphia; Rhode Island; San Antonio; San Jose/Silicon Valley; Seattle/King County; and Washington, D.C.; and international affiliates in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, England. City Year is a proud member of AmeriCorps.

Americorps, Aramark, Bank of America, Cisco Foundation, Comcast, CSX, Deloitte, Pepsi, Timberland, T-Mobile
Copyright © 2010 City Year, Inc.

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