City Year: Give back after graduation
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 22:10
Every year UConn students donate many hours of their time giving back to their communities either through Community Outreach programs, personal volunteering or national service programs. Some of the most active and most engaging programs are those that involve education, language and literacy. The City Year Program takes this idea of service and immerses students in a 10-month long program where they work directly with students as tutors, mentors and role models to reduce the dropout rate. City Year, a national program founded in 1988 by two Harvard Law School graduates, is modeled around the Year of Service idea where students spend one year of their academic lives in the national or international community giving back and providing service to those who need it. Currently, one of the most severe societal crises in America is the abysmal rate of high school graduation. The graduation rate in the largest urban areas is only 53-percent, which makes it hard for many students to escape the cycle of poverty. Research has shown that a student who does not graduate from high school is eight times more likely to be incarcerated and three times more likely to be unemployed. In addition, over the course of a lifetime, a high school dropout will make $1 million less than a high school graduate. The City Year program works to identify students at risk of dropping out, and then “leverages the power of the crops and the transformative nature of national service” to reduce the dropout rate.
Students can take part in City Year right after they graduate from high school, between academic years in college, or even after graduation. Zachary Trust, a sixth-semester Latin American Studies major, spent the 2011-2012 academic year taking part in the City Year program in Boston, and the program taught him an “immeasurable amount of information about the inequalities in the field of education in our country and…so much about how a group of motivated, passionate, hard-working, like-minded individuals can ‘be the change’ and how much we need our country’s young minds to flourish.” Trust strongly recommends City Year to anyone regardless of where they may be in college “because you will grow so much as a professional, gain important skills, network with powerful people, but most importantly, help students.”
Another UConn student who participated in City Year had a similarly life-changing experience. Melissa Lovitz who took part and served in the program, says City Year was not just a peer tutoring program, it was “a full-time experience in leadership development, teamwork and character growth through the lens of education.” In addition, Melissa was able to do and learn many things while taking part in the program, which included clarifying her future career goals in the Life After City Year program, and even won an educational award for her education.
The City Year program has 24 sites in the United States (including Boston, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and New York) and two international sites (London and South Africa). Students who want to learn more about City Year can visit cityyear.org or contact UConn City Year Recruitment Ambassador Brianna Soares at email@example.com.