Charlotte LaVictoire (IBA ’16) accepted an AmeriCorps position focusing on literacy with a non-profit called Waite House in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. Charlotte is planning to integrate this applied work with her senior study next year. She generously wrote up tips for other students who are interested in AmeriCorps, including ways a position can be integrated into one’s Goddard studies while also getting a stipend and benefits, including a $6,000 education stipend at the end of a year of service.
I went to the AmeriCorps site and in the ‘I’m Ready to Serve’ section you can type in location and/or type of work – public housing, literacy, environmental, etc. – and it will pull up a list of jobs in those areas and brief descriptions. I have been wanting to relocate to Minneapolis so I found several community centers listing work with literacy programs and applied to several.
I was first checked out by AmeriCorps through my resume and references who are emailed a form to fill out – I chose previous Goddard advisors for two of my references so that is one way Goddard can be of help and speak to the work a student has done. Then I was contacted by the Minnesota Literacy Council and interviewed, then the community centers themselves set up interviews. As a result of AmeriCorps jobs being so focused on social and environmental justice the experiences we have through academic work, workshops, and in our communities during the semesters makes most Goddard students a rather perfect fit for what they are looking for.
Here is what is true of most AmeriCorps positions:
- You commit to 1 year of service
- It is a government contract and considered service to your country which makes you eligible for loan forgiveness post service. I understand this to mean that you arrange to make 120 payments towards students loans (once a month for 10 years) and when those payments are completed your outstanding debt is removed completely. This means you may end up paying back as little as 12,000 instead of 30 or 40,000.
- After your year of service you are also given an education stipend of roughly $6,000 and have up to 7 years to use it.
- You are also given a living stipend paid twice monthly while in service (mine will be $850/mo after taxes)
- You are eligible for other social services such as food stamps to supplement the stipend
- You are given health insurance coverage up to $6600 for the year while in service
- You can serve for up to 3 years in different positions receiving the education stipend each time
Some positions :
- also provide a moving stipend (mine does and I am getting $550 + .57 a mile to relocate)
- also provide a childcare stipend
- have age requirements (some Vista positions are 18-24 only, and some are considered SeniorCorps positions)
- Some positions are less than a year
Usually you are working a 40-hour week during service and they don’t want participants to also be going to school full-time. Goddard by its low-res nature is ideally suited to a position like this, however, because there are no classes and working in a community in this way fulfills the social and ecological context requirement. I explained the program and was given an okay to continue as a full time student. I think it depends on the position, but my experience was that they were flexible on this and all I had to do was ask and they gave me a thumbs up.
In my position I will be working at a non-profit called Waite House in the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis. I will specifically be continuing the implementation of a literacy program that will be in its third year. I will have training from AmeriCorps and from Waite House – the idea is that you come to learn what it takes to begin, continue, and eventually transition a non-profit program into the hands of a community. I am not expected to know how to do this, this opportunity is about learning through the experience of building curriculum and community partnerships and observing to see if it is beneficial to those it is attempting to help. My service begins July 27th which is the last day of this semester so I have this semester, my level 6, to prepare and then my plan is to use my year of service as my senior study plan – which will be a qualitative research project. While I am out in the world self-directing this opportunity will provide a bit of structure. It feels right now like a big win in several ways. I don’t think I would be ready for this without the work I’ve already done at Goddard and I think the AmeriCorps experience will really positively inform and deepen the work I have left to do.”
Thanks for the helpful information, Charlotte!