The Corps Network Awarded AmeriCorps National Direct Grants to Continue Opportunity Youth Service Initiative and Education Awards Program

Funding will support over 3,400 AmeriCorps Members at Forty Member Corps of The Corps Network.


The Corps Network participates in White House event launching Obama Administration’s Summer Opportunity Project

Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network, joined Corporation for National and Community Service panel on summer service and CNCS’ new Summer Opportunity AmeriCorps program


Mary Ellen's Blog: TCN on the Map

Less than two weeks ago, I sat in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, just off the West Wing of the White House, listening to the stories of four inspiring young adults from member programs of The Corps Network. There was Ray Santos, a Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps Crew Leader from American YouthWorks (AYW) in Texas, who uses his own experience as a formerly court-involved AYW Corpsmember to lead formerly-incarcerated and at-risk Corpsmembers. There was Kenesha Jackson, a young mother who, with the help of Greater Miami Service Corps, reimagined her future and enrolled in college. We heard from Aisha Dorn, a Civic Works alumna who used knowledge she gained during her term of service to start her own brownfield remediation company in Baltimore, MD. And there was Katherine Martinez, a young woman who experienced a boost in self-confidence and became a strong leader while developing tangible job skills through Curlew Job Corps’ welding program.

These four young adults were The Corps Network’s representatives at a White House Community Leaders Briefing on the topic of Corps and the role national service can play in creating opportunities for diverse young people. I applaud Ray, Kenesha, Aisha and Katherine for their willingness and courage to share their stories of service and transformation, especially in front of top officials from the White House, the EPA, and the Departments of Labor, Energy, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development.  They were an excellent representation of the thousands of extraordinary young people enrolled in the 100+ programs of The Corps Network. There are many Corpsmembers all across the country who, like the four individuals who spoke at the White House, are transforming their communities while also transforming their own lives.

Those of us in the Corps community have heard similar personal stories to those that were shared at the White House. We know from firsthand experience how service in a Corps can help a young person get on the right track, plan for the future and develop into a successful, community-conscious adult. What was exciting about this month was that through the White House briefing, as well as through The Corps Network’s Annual Day of Service, the transformative power of Corps was shared with people outside of the Corps world who previously might not have ever heard of The Corps Network or Service and Conservation Corps.

At the White House briefing, The Corps Network was introduced to important Obama administration officials, like Hallie Schneir, Deputy Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls; and Roy L. Austin, Jr., Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity. At The Day of Service, The Corps Network gained recognition in the nation’s capital through high-visibility service projects at four DC-area National Park Service sites. I am proud to say that in our second year of hosting the Day of Service we were able to attract nearly double the volunteers, double the sponsors, and double the number of participating Corps.

The Corps Network is on the map. I feel confident that now, more than any other time during my tenure with The Corps Network, Corps are seen by a wide range of people as a tested and trusted model for improving our communities, protecting the environment, and creating opportunities for diverse young people. We’re in a good place to maintain this trend and expand awareness. I know that Corps will only continue to impress as they go about their daily business of making the world a better place. 


The Corps Network to Participate in Community Leaders Briefing at White House

The Corps Network to discuss education, job training, and the role of service with senior White House and Administration officials

Energy Efficiency Program at Corps a Stepping Stone to New Opportunities for Taos Woman

The following story showcases one of The Corps Network's 2015 Award Winners. Jasmine Romero will be recognized as a 2015 Corpsmember of the Year at The Corps Network National Conference in February. More stories for our 2015 Award Winners can be found here.

Jasmine Romero was born and raised on the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. As a teenager, she moved with her mom to Albuquerque, where she graduated from high school and earned good grades. Next, she advanced to college where for about a year-and-a-half she worked toward a degree in engineering. But what came next would challenge Jasmine.

Starting with a heart attack suffered by her father back home on the Taos, Pueblo, a series of consequential events began to negatively impact Jasmine. Eventually she and her mom were forced to live out of their car. Jasmine turned to alcohol to cope with her problems, and soon it became yet another problem for her to overcome.

A little over a year later, Jasmine enrolled in Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. She had sought out counseling for alcohol abuse and heard about the program from her counselor. Jasmine says that, “At first I was hesitant about applying till I read their mission statement. The mission statement is what got me. One key phrase, ‘A stepping-stone to new opportunities,’ this simple statement meant that I had a chance to start over.”

During her term, Jasmine learned the basic skills to weatherize homes to make them more energy efficient. She obtained certifications from Santa Fe Community College in retrofit installer, lead safe practices, OSHA 10, and also First Aid and CPR. She enjoyed the work so much that she applied to return for a second season as an Assistant Crew Supervisor for the Corps’ energy efficiency program. The hard work and attention to detail that Jasmine provides when working make her well-respected among the Corps’ staff and her peers. One staff member remarked that “I know that I can leave Jazz with a task list at any point during the day and come back knowing the crew has been productive.”

Many of the homeowners who have received weatherization services from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps are thankful, including a memorably appreciative elderly woman. Jasmine recalls that “she was unsure at first, having a bunch of kids in her house, but she watched us work as a team and could see the quality work we were doing and was crying out of gratitude by the time we left.”

Jasmine is currently still serving in her second AmeriCorps term with the Corps. She hopes to continue advancing in the energy efficiency field and utilize the AmeriCorps Education Awards she has earned. The staff at the Corps think that, with additional certifications, she could very well become the first woman to serve as an official energy auditor / inspector in New Mexico—a compliment to how far Jasmine has come in developing her work skills. But she views things a little bit differently.

“I can go through and name all my certificates that I received. I can go through the trainings they have provided me and the education award that they have also presented to me. But this is not the important bits and pieces they have taught me. They have taught me how to manage myself as a person to make sure I have my priorities straight. They have taught me so much about life that I had no idea about. I have become 10 times a better person than I was before. They have taught me different types of communications, different types of personalities, and how to connect the dots between these two major characteristics of a person. I have learned how to better control my emotions whether it be at work or at home. They have helped mold me into the person I have always wanted to be.”

Boiler Plate: 
Meet Jasmine Romero, a 2015 Corpsmember of the Year.

Young Woman Catches the "Corps Bug" : A Passion for Service, AmeriCorps to Blame

The following story showcases one of The Corps Network's 2015 Award Winners. Graciela Billingsley will be recognized as a 2015 Corpsmember of the Year at The Corps Network National Conference in February. More stories for our 2015 Award Winners can be found here.

Graciela “Gracie” Billingsley is all about service. Citing her parents as an inspiration, she believes that from the day they adopted her and her siblings, a passion for service to others and one’s community was ignited. The gratitude she feels toward her parents’ decision is immense. To explain further, while they were excited to adopt Gracie as a baby, the adoption agency subsequently informed her parents that they had the opportunity to adopt her siblings as well. Ultimately, even though they had not initially planned for it, they chose to do it so that Gracie and all of her siblings could remain together.

Upon graduating from high school in 2012, Gracie decided to take a “gap year” to serve her country before going to college. She heard about AmeriCorps from a relative, and joined AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). In this first prolonged service experience, Gracie worked on a variety of environmental stewardship and disaster relief projects in Tennessee, West Virginia, and Alabama. It’s safe to say that Gracie caught the “Corps bug.” This past summer, Gracie wanted to continue serving and also try camping, so she joined a crew with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Colorado as an AmeriCorps member. Gracie continued her stewardship by working on hiking trail maintenance and environmental restoration projects in the White River National Forest.

A staff member at Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) explains that “Gracie began the summer season at RMYC never having camped before. She rose to the challenges of living outside and working with a team in a 24/7 environment and despite her inexperience in camping, grew enormously, showing confidence and initiative around camp and at the worksite. Along the way she demonstrated her commitment to self-growth by asking thoughtful questions, seeking out feedback, and giving constructive criticism to leaders and others. From the beginning she was a leader by example, generously offering her time and effort to others on her team. Her focus was constantly on the crew before herself. Gracie’s philosophy is that as long as she has energy to give, her intention is to keep giving to others… Gracie fulfills the ideal of what it means to be an AmeriCorps member and public servant.”

One of Gracie’s most notable efforts went above and beyond what she signed up for. Following the end of her season, she organized a donation drive in collaboration with a charitable organization, Lift-Up of Routt County. She mobilized her fellow RMYC participants to help secure donations of food and clothing.

Following her time in Colorado, Gracie moved to the Washington, DC area. Putting the Education Awards she earned through AmeriCorps to use, she currently attends Northern Virginia Community College. Gracie plans to earn a degree in Government and International Affairs. She then hopes to join the Peace Corps masters program. Her ultimate goal is to embark on a career as a foreign service officer for the United States.

Gracie also presently serves as the volunteer Social Committee Co-Chair for the Washington DC Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums. “I don’t think enough people know about AmeriCorps and the invaluable effects the organization has on future generations, generations currently and on the Nation as a whole,” says Gracie. “I truly believe in AmeriCorps and want to bring what I learned in my service terms back home and to link up with other community leaders to raise awareness, funds and people to answer the call to service. My goal as a Social Co-Chair is to network with colleges, high schools, elementary schools and non-profits in the DC and surrounding areas to do as many volunteer events, community events and alum events as possible to build strong relations and to represent AmeriCorps the best way possible.”

Gracie cares so much about sharing her experience with others in part because of what it meant to her through both of her Corps experiences: “I am forever grateful for my service terms because these experiences truly shaped my life and gave me the confidence I need to fulfill my dreams. I have learned that my task is not done when the hard day is over or when I have overcome a challenge, rather the true accomplishment is the realization that I am not done because service is a life fulfilling commitment that is unending and needed for all of humanity.”

Boiler Plate: 
Read the story of Graciela “Gracie” Billingsley, a 2015 Corpsmember of the Year.

Signature Program of The Corps Network Expands

Federal partnerships tap talent of even more American youth through The Corps Network’s AmeriCorps Opportunity Youth Service Initiative

The Corps Network releases documentary short about connecting urban youth to the great outdoors

Conservation Legacy Corps' Day of the A Photos Demonstrate Creativity

Although there were certainly a lot of fantastic photos taken recently for the "Day of the A," in promotion of AmeriCorps' 20th Anniversary, we thought that the collection of photos we received from Southwest Conservation Corps and Arizona Conservation Corps were particularly witty. Check them out!

$3 million commitment to Serve a Year Campaign announced at Clinton Global Initiative

On September 22nd, at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual conference, President Bill Clinton announced a $3 million commitment to the Serve a Year Campaign. The campaign – which is led by ServiceNation and partners representing all of the country’s leading national service organizations, including The Corps Network – is focused on working with leaders in the entertainment industry to raise awareness about national service through incorporating programs like AmeriCorps into TV shows, movies and other pop culture outlets.

Press release from ServiceNation
September 22, 2014
Tim Smith, Director of Online Engagement, Service Nation


Chelsea Clinton, President Clinton, ServiceNation Announce Commitment to Reach Millions of Americans Through Serve A Year Campaign

Comcast and NBCUniversal, Airbnb, & Philanthropists Jonathan and Jeanne Lavine and Josh and Anita Bekenstein Commit Over $3 MM in support of campaign led by ServiceNation

New York, NY  – Today, at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual conference, President Bill Clinton announced a $3 million commitment to the Serve a Year Campaign. The Campaign, led by the grassroots advocacy organization ServiceNation, will work with leaders in the entertainment industry to popularize the idea of national service by integrating programs like AmeriCorps into television and movie scripts, as well as content created by cutting-edge online and social media artists.

“If more young people participated in full time service programs like AmeriCorps, it would have a transformative impact on our country,” said Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation. “Through our work with the National Service Alliance, we seek to accomplish just that. We have proven time and again that we are stronger when we work together and by giving more Americans the opportunity to come together in service, we make our nation stronger."

Building on more than 20 years of support for national service, philanthropists Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine and Josh and Anita Bekenstein have each committed $1 million to this effort. Longtime supporters of Service Year organizations, they are excited about a new future for this movement.

“We strongly support the idea of a Service Year," said Jonathan Lavine. "We believe that ServiceNation’s cultural campaign will have a powerful impact on establishing a year of service as a common opportunity and expectation for a new generation that is ready serve.”

President Clinton also announced a number of ambitious goals and grants that will promote and strengthen national service programs. Those include:

Developing 30,000 new national service positions by 2017

Working with institutions of higher education and establishing a new “Employers of Service” program

New partnerships and commitments from major companies like Airbnb, Cisco, the Lumina Foundation, Comcast and NBCUniversal

The creation of the National Service Alliance – a group consisting of ServiceNation, Voices for National Service, National Conference on Citizenship, and The Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute – that will be responsible for fulfilling the commitments.

"Enriching the neighborhoods we serve is at the core of Airbnb's mission, and we are thrilled to support national service and AmeriCorps members in their commitment to give back," said Joe Gebbia, co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Airbnb. "Airbnb's partnership with the Clinton Foundation and ServiceNation will help provide new service corps members with a place to call home as they embark on their year of service to strengthen America's cities and communities."

“Our nation faces immense challenges, and we know that there is no better way to tackle them than by encouraging young people to dedicate a Service Year in their communities,” said Zach Maurin, Executive Director of ServiceNation. “We also know that the millennial generation wants to serve if they are given the right information and opportunities. With the support of partners like Airbnb and Comcast and NBCUniversal, we can effectively reach this generation and connect them to the opportunities they so desperately want.”

Airbnb, the global hospitality company, will support this initiative by donating accommodations and support for approximately 1,000 AmeriCorps members during their transition to new cities for their Service year. Comcast Corporation will commit $1 million in airtime to promote the Serve A Year Campaign.

“Comcast and NBCUniversal have been proud to support ServiceNation and the idea of a Service Year for many years,” said Charisse R. Lillie, Vice President of Community Investment at Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast Foundation. “As a company uniquely positioned to inform, empower and inspire, we are excited to leverage our assets to support this bold new plan through our many platforms. Together, we will reach a new generation ready to serve.”