The Utah Conservation Corps, for example, consists mostly of college graduates or students. With the Corps, they commit to 450-1,900 hours of service. They learn essential skills in fields of conservatio n, community restoration and urban infrastructure needed for promising green-collar jobs. Similar programs benefit youth tremendously. According to a study by Brandeis University “YOUTH Corps: Promising Strategies for Young People and Their Communities” youth involved in the corps have higher rates of employment and earnings.
Two-thirds of Teach for America participants stay in teaching past their initial two year commitment, and another third pass the four year mark. These percentages show that some of these participants are there to be long-term career teachers.
By far, AmeriCorps members and alumni have shown the most significant impact in long term service careers. Still Serving: Measuring the Eight-Year Impact of AmeriCorps on Alumni, the study shows that more than 60% of AmeriCorps members choose to work in nonprofit organizations or public agencies. 80% of members claim the AmeriCorps had exposed them to new career options. Alums’ career choices show that AmeriCorps does lead people to lifelong careers in public service and a commitment to serving communities at need.
This window of opportunity for these graduates provides a means to build skills such as team-building, leadership and cooperation. They are helping out to improve communities, education and the environment. These programs address imminent problems of poverty, homelessness and even the energy crisis. Just as importantly, these graduates are learning skills that will benefit and enhance their future careers.
Michelle Obama commented at a recent commencement speech at University of California Merced “Now, let me tell you, careers focused on lifting up our communities –whether it’s helping transform troubled schools or creating after-school programs or training workers for green jobs – these careers are not always obvious but today they are necessary.”
Commitment to AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Teach for America, conservations corps and other national youth service opportunities can be anything from four months to two years. Although unemployment may be a factor in choosing such paths of service, this will ignite a new generation of civically aware and socially minded individuals. With the priceless knowledge and training these graduates will receive, we can only look forward to a brighter future ahead.