Both the Stevenson Center and AmeriCorps are celebrating 20 years of serving communities across the country, in 2014. In recent years, the two organizations have enjoyed growing cooperation in Illinois. We are enrolling more members into AmeriCorps positions throughout the state every year and welcoming more AmeriCorps Alums to our graduate programs, as well as building our cooperative legacy of service in the Prairie State. The AmeriCorps Alums organization includes the Stevenson Center as one of just four “Premium Match” graduate school partners in the country. The Stevenson Center sponsored the September 2013 and June 2012 AmeriCorps Alums e-newsletter, a publication that reaches more than 106,000 people who have served.

The Stevenson Center has also been an AmeriCorps service site since 2005, with 46 positions to date and more than $150,000 in education awards from the National Service Trust.

In fall 2013, the Stevenson Center welcomed our first City Year alumni. City Year’s goal is to fight the dropout crisis throughout the nation. City Year Corps members provide tutoring and mentorship as role models to students. Through the new agreement with City Year, the Stevenson Center can better reach City Year Corps members, alumni, and staff who may be interested in our ACED (Applied Community and Economic Development) Fellows Program.

Among our current students, we have three City Year alums who have continued their AmeriCorps service while with the Stevenson Center. Each is beginning their professional practice this fall with exciting organizations and important work projects.

Kumaran 2Ramya Kumaran realized her passion for serving high-need communities during her time with City Year. Her desire to build upon her service experiences and her interest in policy motivated her to pursue the ACED Fellows Program. Kumaran said, “I believe that this program is a good fit for future City Year alumni who are interested in the field of community and economic development, as well as an interdisciplinary approach of study.” Kumaran is completing her professional practice with Mikva Challenge–a youth civic engagement agency–in Chicago. After completing her master’s degree in political science, she plans to pursue a career that accommodates her interest in policy targeting underserved communities.

Raynor 2As Katie Raynor was working toward her bachelor’s degree in music education, she developed an interest in urban education. “City Year perfectly melded my interests in volunteering, education, and travel,” she said. Her positive experience with City Year led her to apply to the ACED Fellows Program. One of the primary draws of the program for Katie was the network of innovative and passionate professors and peers, as well as the applied aspect of the program. Raynor is completing her professional practice with the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging, which focuses on older adults’ issues. After completing her master’s degree in sociology, she plans to continue work in the nonprofit sector.

Sheets-Polling 3Dan Sheets-Poling grew up in a family that places high value on education. When he learned about City Year, he was eager to serve in a position that allowed him to live out those values. During his time with City Year, Sheets-Poling learned the importance of teamwork and project management. He applied to the ACED Fellows Program to further develop his skills. “I would recommend the program to any alum who wants to further their education, and develop even more tangible skills for the future,” Sheets-Poling said. He is completing his professional practice with two different projects: one launching a small-business resource for all of Illinois, the other managing labor statistic data. After completing his master’s in applied economics, he plans to work in economic development.