Each year, the national AmeriCorps Program offers 80,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve American communities throughout a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. Since 2010, Safe Passages has hosted over 100 AmeriCorps Members – all working to build a better future for youth in Elev8 Oakland Middle Schools.
The AmeriCorps Elev8 Youth Program works to decrease the learning gap that exists among low income students, students of color and English language learners. Consider these alarming statistics:
- Nationally, the jobless rate for Hispanic high school dropouts is calculated to be 47% and for African Americans is 69%.
- 23% of 16-24 year old African-American male high school dropouts in the U.S. were incarcerated in 2006-2007.
- The incidence of institutionalization among high school dropouts is 63 times higher than among college graduates.
- During the 2007-08 school year,1,632 students grade 9-12 were designated as drop outs in Oakland schools
In addition, data shows that nearly half of dropouts in local schools were 9th graders. Clearly, school intervention programs are highly needed as early as middle schools – before students become disconnected from learning and drop out of school.
In order to help address these issues, Safe Passages has partnered with the Corporation for National and Community Service, California Volunteers and schools. The Elev8 Youth Program sets out to serve high need middle schools and one 6th-12 grade school utilizing the tremendous resources of AmeriCorps Members.
The AmeriCorps Elev8 Youth Program has provided intensive academic supports and mentoring to over 1,300 students at 9 middle schools in Oakland and San Lorenzo Unified School Districts. The goals of the program are to increase school connectedness, functioning grade level and reduced absenteeism and suspensions for violence.
Each member is assigned a group of 10 students who receive tutoring in English Language Arts and/or Math during class time and after school every day. AmeriCorps Members also coordinate or participate in community service learning projects. In the past, these have included Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez community service days where Members have recruited hundreds of school community volunteers to work together in a range of community beautification projects.
The Safe Passages Elev8 Youth Program has demonstrated significant community impact through an evidence based approach. In the first three program years, the ELEV8 Youth Program served a total of 776 high needs beneficiaries. In the last year of program service (2011-2012):
The Elev8 Youth Program is also a valuable career pathway and skill building tool for young professionals. During the 2011-12 program year:
- The program had 100% Member enrollment with an 88.2% retention rate in the 2011-12 program year.
- Twenty-eight of the thirty-four Members (82.3%) increased their skills by one level on at least 50% of performance review items.
- The Members were provided with a total of 6,736 hours of training, including 48 hours of orientation training and 152 hours of ongoing training per Member.
- Training topics included: Strategic Tutoring, data collection, cultural competency, mandated reporting, youth development, CPR, community outreach, and volunteer recruitment.
- By the end of Period 3 of the 2010-11 program year, 100% of Members reported that they had a firm understanding of youth development model, Strategic Tutoring, how to write a lesson
The Safe Passages AmeriCorps program is designed to support middle school students, their communities and young professionals alike. If you know a young person interested in giving back to the community while gaining invaluable professional and life skills, please tell them about this amazing opportunity.
Elev8 AmeriCorps Youth Development Program Class of 2014 Reflections
As the school year comes to a close, the Safe Passages AmeriCorps Members and students reflect back on their year with the Elev8 AmeriCorps Youth Development Program. Students and members shared their gratitude for each other and both found renewed excitement for their professional and personal futures. Congratulations to all 45 Members, 450 Students and 15 schools for a job well done!
“Knowing the needs and challenges of the community enables me to be a better citizen and inspires me to continue giving back through education.” –Machelle Oropeza
“The students have motivated me to continue reaching for my goal to become a physician who serves the health needs of the community.” – Alwin Louie
“Being an AmeriCorps Member has further instilled the value of doing selfless work.” – Jasmine Holmes
“This year has helped me find what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’ve learned that I ABSOLUTELY want to be a teacher!” – Lily Qiami
“It has helped me achieve my goals of deciding to become a teacher.” – Amairani Juarez-Mendez
“I’ve gained patience and the ability to recognize that little successes sometimes matter more than larger ones.” – Krista Horvath
“I have gained an amazing experience that gives me insight into the complicated world of education in an urban environment.” – Katie Rose Sanfilippo
“Before I started this job, I didn’t consider myself to be someone equipped to work with youth in this capacity, but now, I realize that I have genuine love for working with young minds.” – Caitlin Martin
What Students Shared…
“The best year that I had…a great time doing work with the help that I needed.” – Adolfo Vazquez, 8th Grade Student
“Ms. V always told me to go great in myself in whatever I do.” – Court’Leon Brown, 8th Grade Student
“To have someone to help you is always great, but he didn’t just help us – he actually talked to us, like a friend.” – Gabriel Torres, 8th Grade Student
“It’s been very, very good because she’s been helping me a lot and she’s expanded my brain! It’s been fun. She inspires me to read more.” – Angie Mendoza, 7th grade
“ELEV8 is awesome! I want Ms. K to stay until I finish 8th grade!” – Ajene Ferguson, 8th Grade Student
“I love AmeriCorps” – Rubie Vargas, 8th Grade Student
“It’s a GREAT program because you can have fun and learn at the same time. Ms. Caitlin is a very good, inspirational being.” – Sione Fili, 8th Grade Student