My name is Ariel DuVal. I am a 2013 Hope College graduate with a BA in Spanish and Psychology. After graduating, I served as an AmeriCorps Member for two years followed by a brief stint with the YMCA Veggie Van. Now, I work with the Literacy Center of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, MI as the AmeriCorps Coordinator for the Family Literacy Program. I don’t know about you, but when I was a graduating senior, I was struggling to find my life’s direction. AmeriCorps provided me an opportunity for to test the waters. During my service, I found direction and entered a graduate school program in Public Health.
Maybe you’re interested in adult education or teaching English, but you aren’t ready to commit to a graduate program. Maybe you’re simply interested in giving back to the community that has provided you with so many opportunities. If these ideas are coming to the surface as graduation nears, AmeriCorps could be a great option for you.
What is AmeriCorps?
The easy answer is that it is similar to the PeaceCorps, but it is domestic and requires less of a time commitment.
AmeriCorps is a national service program. It is a year commitment to serve your community and to complete 1700 hours of service (roughly 35-40 hours per week). Joining AmeriCorps is a way to put your idealism into action. As an AmeriCorps member, you can help make the world a better place: help children learn, protect the environment, or bring needed services to a low-income community. AmeriCorps is a real-life education and work experience wrapped into one. As a member, you will learn teamwork, leadership, responsibility and other essential skills that will help you for the rest of your life. And you will gain the personal satisfaction of taking on challenges and seeing results.
What is the Literacy Center of West Michigan?
Founded in 1986, the Literacy Center of West Michigan is committed to bringing about a just and vibrant West Michigan through the power of literacy. This mission statement, developed as part of our strategic planning efforts, is our bold commitment to making West Michigan a region that is known for having one of the highest levels of literacy in the nation.
To this end, the Literacy Center works alongside adults, both native speakers and English language learners, who struggle with literacy skills and read below a 9th grade level. The Literacy Center served 963 adults in the 2014-2015 program year, utilizing almost 300 volunteers.
What would I do at the Literacy Center?
The Literacy Center’s AmeriCorps team serves within the Family Literacy Program. This program serves parents whose children attend Grand Rapids Public Schools and Godwin Heights Public Schools. The Family Literacy Program is an evidence-based program made up of four components: 1) Parent education by way of English Language Classes 2) Parent time 3) Parent and Child Together Time, and 4) Child’s education provided by local school district.
The AmeriCorps team is comprised of 10 individuals: 6 English Language Instructors, 1 Bilingual Learner Support Advocate, 1 Volunteer recruiter and 2 Head Start Tutors.
What do I get out of serving at the Literacy Center?
- Bi-weekly living stipend
- Child care stipend, if eligible
- Education award of $5,700 to pay off qualifying federal student loans or future education
- Professional development and training
- Networking through collaborative AmeriCorps events
- Opportunity to take college courses as a part of your service year
I’m interested, how do I learn more?
Literacy Center of West Michigan representatives and AmeriCorps members will be at Hope College on Tuesday March 29 from 6-7pm in Maas Conference Hall. We will have a brief presentation and will have ample time for Q&A. We look forward to seeing you there!
We will also have information about all West Michigan AmeriCorps Programs if you are interested in serving in another capacity.