Their motto is “Give a year, change the world.” I’ve always been intrigued by these 17- to 24-year-olds I’ve run into over the last few years who give a year of domestic service and wear those big red jackets with contagious enthusiasm and pride. Last week I had the privilege of spending time with the passionate young people of City Year in New York and wanted to introduce them to you.
Some call it “the domestic Peace Corps”, but the young members of City Year don’t only keep the peace in the urban areas they work in, they educate, inspire and motivate, working as tutors, mentors and role models. In the New York chapter, specifically, they are looking at bleak statistics: 58% of 4th graders are illiterate and half will not graduate from high school. So the corpsmen and women meet those stats with their own numbers: 11,225 children served during in-school and after-school programs, 10,139 gallons of paint used to create murals to refurbish playspaces, and 562,000 hours of time spent transforming communities.
The corps members come from diverse backgrounds. Some defer admission to Ivy League universities. Others grew up in inner cities, inspired by the City Year work in their own classrooms growing up. Falling under the federal umbrella of AmeriCorps, all members take nominal stipends for their volunteer time, but give maximum one-on-one benefits to the ones who need it most.
Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview