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CELEBRATING AMERICORPS WEEK

March 10, 2017

This week, individuals and organizations nationwide have been celebrating AmeriCorps Week, recognizing the service contributions of over 80,000 members and 1 million AmeriCorps alumni in their communities across America.

AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members add critical capacity to the nonprofit sector by volunteering their time, skills, and energy to creating change and, as their tagline emphasizes, getting things done.

Elevate works closely with a range of nonprofit clients who benefit from AmeriCorps members’ service and dedication, including: Food Recovery Network, Teens Run, The Literacy Lab, Edu-Futuro, Critical Exposure, See Forever Foundation, Capital Partners for Education, and Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County. Through our work with nonprofit organizations like these in the DC region and across the country, we see firsthand the impact that AmeriCorps members have in their communities, as their work helps move the needle in a variety of high-need areas, and ensure that organizations of all kinds can continue making meaningful change.

In addition to adding capacity to organizations in the nonprofit sector and beyond, AmeriCorps also opens doors for its volunteers by providing pathways to employment. At Elevate, several members of our staff came to us from after serving with AmeriCorps. These fundraising professionals are now leveraging the skills and experience they gained through their AmeriCorps experience to help nonprofit organizations in DC and beyond creating meaningful, lasting social change.

Below, Elevate staff share in their own words about their experience with AmeriCorps, and its impact on their personal and professional trajectories.

Emile-Dawisha
EMILE DAWISHA

“The hardest part about shifting career paths is simply finding that first springboard opportunity. In 2009, I was a former English major with a journalism-heavy background, looking to shift gears into the nonprofit sector. AmeriCorps VISTA turned out to be the perfect opportunity for me. At the time, I wasn’t qualified for a full-time salaried position; and I didn’t want to take an internship or part-time gig. Through VISTA, I accepted a grant writing position at Sarah’s Circle, a women’s daytime shelter. Like most VISTA experiences, I took on a lot of responsibility and learned a lot of foundational skills in the process. Looking back, I was a bit over my head. But it was a heck of an education; and it ultimately sprung my grant writing career, which is now nine years and counting.”

Annelise-OsterbergAnnelise Osterberg

“After moving to DC, I took a position as an AmeriCorps member at Manna, a local nonprofit that has been building affordable housing in the community since the 1980s. During my year as an AmeriCorps, I not only had the opportunity to see the inside-workings of an effective community development organization, but also gained valuable grant writing experience that prepared me to succeed in my role as Senior Grant Writer at Elevate.”

Jonathan-AyalaJONATHAN AYALA

“When I was an AmeriCorps volunteer – first as a City Year corps member, then as a member of the Washington AIDS Partnership – I quickly had to learn that effecting change would not be simple. In many cases, it would not even be probable. At least, not in the immediate sense I had been hoping for when I first signed up for my years of community service. AmeriCorps helped me rethink metrics of success. Did I close the achievement gap for middle school students in Washington, D.C.? No, not likely. But I did provide hundreds of hours of literacy tutoring for students across the academic spectrum. Is the rate of new HIV infections still stubbornly high in our city? Certainly. But, I did facilitate many workshops and testing sessions aimed at increasing young people’s awareness of how to prevent transmission.

At Elevate, we like to say that progress is possible. It’s an important thing for folks working toward justice to remember. We know that not every single grant we submit is going to be funded, nor are our clients going to become as efficient or effective as they would like overnight. Yet, we still celebrate successes when they occur, no matter how small, and continue to keep faith that the hard work we do on a daily basis will pay off.”

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