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‘I’m really thankful:’ AmeriCorps City Year Jacksonville helping local students succeed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An education nonprofit is working to help local students stay in school and succeed in life, using mentors and advocates to help those in our most underserved communities discover a difference.

AmeriCorps City Year Jacksonville is dedicated to students like Ximena Cordero, a fifth-grader at Woodland Acres Elementary School.

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“Are you thankful? Does it make you happy?” asked Action News Jax Ben Becker.

Cordero became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry.

After a brief pause and a pep talk from her City Year “Red Jacket” coach Ms. B, the interview continued.

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“Why does it make you cry?” asked Becker.

“Because I’m really thankful for City Year,” she said.

The program is in 29 high-need communities around the country, including 25 schools in Duval County where it provides more than 680,000 hours of local tutoring, mentorship, and service.

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In the 2022 academic year, 77% of students served grew English skills, while 87% of students grew math skills.

Dr. Jasmin Haynes was a City Year coach a decade ago and it helped her to become an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of North Florida.

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Since its inception in 2013, 48% of City Year coaches have become educators, including Haynes.

“I learned so much about myself,” Haynes said. “Self-awareness, social awareness, and I learned social work is the profession that City Year’s values aligned perfectly with in my career that I’m currently in. It was a great pathway to where I am today.”

But the future of the program could be in jeopardy.

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The U.S. House of Representatives recently recommended reducing AmeriCorps’ overall funding for a variety of programs across the country by 50 percent, to $660.9 million, the lowest level of funding in 26 years.

“It is vital to our country that AmeriCorps is funded because of the impact it has in addressing real needs in the community,” said Allishia Bauman, who is the Executive Director at City Year Jacksonville. “It is a concern whenever that is in question.”

City Year Jacksonville will hold its 10th anniversary celebration in June 2024.

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