Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Campus Compact and AmeriCorps Alums seek feedback from current VISTAs and alums

Attention current and former NC Campus Compact VISTAs! AmeriCorps Alums and National Campus Compact want to know about your VISTA experience. These organizations are both committed to constantly improving the national service experience, and these surveys help them do that.

Here you will find the 2014 National Campus Compact VISTA Evaluation Study. Your responses will help National Campus Compact to evaluate each of their different VISTA programs and the impact that your service has had on you since you completed your term.

Depending on how you answer, the survey is around 50 - 75 questions long and should take you around 20 - 30 minutes.

If you have any questions, please contact Mark Este from Campus Compact at meste[@]
Please make sure to use Mozilla Firefox when completing this survey. Don't delay, the deadline to share your feedback is May 2nd!

Here you will find the survey from the AmeriCorps Alums network. This survey asks questions about your experience as a corps member and as an AmeriCorps alum. Your input will help AmeriCorps Alums understand the effectiveness of the alumni program, and will allow AmeriCorps Alums to better meet the professional and educational development needs of alums like you. If you served in more than one AmeriCorps position, please answer the survey questions about your most recent AmeriCorps position, when applicable.

This survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. At the end, to thank you for your time, you can enter into our drawing to win one (1) hour of one-on-one coaching with a professional career coach or one (1) ticket to attend the invite-only National Service Summit in June 2014!

For any questions or concerns, please contact: survey2014[@]

Monday, April 7, 2014

NC Mayors recognize importance of National Service

mayors day
April 1st marked the second annual Mayor's Day of Recognition for National Service. Nationwide 1,760 mayors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico united in support of national service. Thirty North Carolina mayors participated, which is a large increase from last year. A full list can be found here. Together, these mayors represent more than 110 million Americans, or one-third of the U.S. population. These mayors carried a common message: National Service Works for America. We at North Carolina Campus Compact were honored to participate in several of these events alongside such a diverse and vibrant group of AmeriCorps programs.

Dr. Lisa Keyne, Executive Director of NC Campus Compact, joined the Honorable U.S. Congressman David Price, Burlington Mayor Ronnie Wall; Gibsonville Mayor Len Williams; and Mr. Frank DiSilvestro, State Program Specialist with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), to recognize the commitment to service of the Alamance County RSVP Volunteers and local AmeriCorps members. The celebration was held in conjunction with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the newly renovated Crump Village Education Resource Center, a community center that will provide educational space for residents of the Burlington Housing Authority as well as the broader community. BHA is also a key community partner of Elon University, and many Elon students support youth programming at Crump Village.

VISTA Camille Smith with a
signed proclamation of support
from Mayor MacFarlane
VISTA Jacob Lerner participated in an event in Chapel Hill with Mayor Mark Kleinshmidt and members of the NC Literacy Corps. VISTA Camille Smith participated in an event in Raleigh with Mayor Nancy MacFarlane. VISTA Anna Donze participated in an event in Winston-Salem with Mayor Allen Joines, and VISTAs Bevelyn UkahDevin Corrigan, and Carla Davis participated in an event in Greensboro with Mayor Nancy Vaughn. Each Mayor issued a proclamation of support to National Service and spoke of the importance of AmeriCorps initiatives happening throughout the city, and in many cases, throughout the State. VISTA Leader Carla Davis recounts her Greensboro event experience: "The feeling of community in the room was palpable as AmeriCorps members shared their service experiences and projects."

VISTA Anna Donze with other
AmeriCorps members & Mayor Joines
North Carolina Campus Compact is dedicated to leveraging higher education resources to support community organizations, and to create well-rounded programs that address K-12 education, hunger and homelessness, and food security. And we, with other AmeriCorps organizations, are working toward a common goal for North Carolina: to enhance the quality of life for its citizens. Currently the Opportunity Index ranks North Carolina 37th in the nation, but when we can align with local government, the speed at which this this goal can become a reality increases.

Thank you to all of our North Carolina Mayors for recognizing the work that North Carolina Campus Compact and each of our VISTAs is doing to mobilize college student volunteers, create partnerships with non-profits, and fight poverty. The Corporation for National and Community Service annually engages more than five million people in service at more than 60,000 locations in 8,500 cities across the country through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other sponsored programs, and we are glad to be even a small part of those numbers.

Check out our Twitter feed for more Mayors Day pics and tweets @NCCampusCompact

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

VISTA-led alternative break trips and “service staycations” expand student learning, service

NC Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTAs helped lead Alternative Spring Break trips near and far this past month, engaging students both in service and in meaningful reflections of the experience to connect with their day-to-day lives. Each ASB trip built on the VISTA's primary project focus: k-12 education, economic opportunity, or food security.

VISTA Dalton Hoffer co-led a trip to the national historic city of Philadelphia for packed week of activities and service opportunities. The group served four different community organizations in the area: Philabundance Food Bank, Jewish Relief Agency, Philadelphia Reads, and Cradles to Crayons. These agencies allowed them to learn how Philadelphia is working on improving its literacy rate and interacting with volunteers. The students then took that knowledge back to Robeson County which also holds a low literacy statistic. Six of the 9 participating students are mentors in the Brave Impact Mentoring Program Dalton helped create. Focusing on leadership and citizenship, Dalton said the trip "allowed [the mentors] to work with and see how other partners utilize volunteers and interact with students" and led to conversations about how to bring that work back to Robeson county and inspire a sense of pride in that work throughout the community. Check out Dalton's video recap of UNCP's trip.

VISTA Anna Donze at Wake Forest University focused her trip in the community by hosting a Staycation at her community partner site, El Buen Pastor Latino Community Services. Typically the site struggles during WFU's Spring Break as it loses the majority of its volunteer tutors for a week. The 7 WFU students on the trip served as tutors for the duration of the week, played with and supervised the elementary students during their free time and volunteered in the garden. One WFU student said of the experience, "We are helping nurture, mentor, and guide our next generation of youth. We are putting our heads together to care for the young people that will impact this world in years to come." They also designed and led a "Vocab Bowl" for the students to practice some vocabulary words that they may not use in the classroom, as the majority of the students speak only Spanish at home. Anna not only helped coordinate the trip, but also took note of the week's highlights to incorporate them next year for Staycation round two.

VISTA Takira Dale with the Duke Community Service Center also stayed close to home to host her Dive into Durham ASB trip. During this 5 day service experience, Takira and her supervisor, Assistant Director of CSC Programs Dominique Redmond, led 10 students working with various community agencies including Duke Gardens, Urban Ministries of Durham, the Durham Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Genesis Home, Lakewood Community Garden, and the West End Mobile Market. These agencies are committed to fighting hunger and homelessness in Durham, and align with Takira's primary food security project through the Community Service Center. After the service events, Takira led reflection discussions and panels, and created a contact list for these student volunteers to stay engaged in the community throughout their undergraduate career and into their futures. She said of the week, “One interesting aspect of this ASB was experiencing the wide variety of people working on solving issues of homelessness, hunger and poverty. All these organizations may have different methods but most are surprisingly interconnected.”

WCU students conducting food
assessment surveys for the Lower
Nine Ward Food Coalition
VISTA Willie Jones also focused on food security and homelessness for his ASB, a complement to his primary project at Western Carolina University where he is establishing a volunteer gleaning program and reinvigorating the campus garden. Willie and his supervisor Dr. Lane Perry, Director of the Center for Service Learning, led a group of 17 students to New Orleans to work with Green LightThe Green Project, and Lower Nine, all organizations who's focuses are to alleviate hunger and homelessness. Willie says, "This was the first time WCU has traveled to NOLA and the first time [WCU] has worked with any of these partners." The Center for Service Learning is currently developing a system that will allow the university to have multiple alternative break locations that can be rotated out on a yearly or bi-yearly basis. "This way," Willie says, "the university will be able to maintain the relationship they built with these communities." Willie served as the food insecurity and gardening expert for the group.

ECU students maintaining a rain
garden at a local elementary school
VISTA Shifra Sered co-chaperoned a group of 9 East Carolina University students on their ASB trip to Carteret County, North Carolina, where they stayed at Camp Albemarle; ECU's long-time ASB host. The group served primarily at NC Coastal Federation, but also served with Habitat for Humanity and the Hope Mission soup kitchen. "By living in an intentional community and learning to rely on one another for support," Shifra said, "we were able to delve into service and educational experiences that challenged us to evaluate and articulate our values surrounding community, inequality, social responsibility and environmental justice." The group immersed themselves in the experience in part by limiting their food budget to the current food stamp allocation, and by adopting the sustainable lifestyle practices they learned through their service. Shifra designed and facilitated educational and reflection activities for the students as well. She says that after the trip, "We charged all of the student design and implement a sustainability project back at ECU...[which will hopefully] lead to a student-run sustainability club on campus."

VISTA Bevelyn Ukah and her supervisor James Shields, led a group of Guilford College Bonner Leaders to Charleston, South Carolina and St. Helena Island to learn about the history and contemporary realities of the Gulla Geechie nation, specifically as they relate to race and class relations in the area. The goal of this trip was to give the students the practice working in teams to analyze poverty and diversity using place-based critical thinking. 

NC Campus Compact's very own Office Manager, Rene Summers, also co-led a group of 9 Elon University students on a mission trip all the way to St. James Jamaica to serve with an organization called Mustard Seed Communities, which serves children with special needs. The group spent part of their trip with the children and the other part completing projects ranging from light construction work, painting, farming and landscaping alongside the community and MSC staff. Rene and the group arrived safely back in Elon this week, but they will continue to hold meetings to reflect on their experiences.

All of these VISTAs have been planning their trips for months. Though each of project may seem different, the goal of all is to engage students in a deeper conversation with and understanding of their communities. Whether the groups went North to Philly, South to NOLA, stayed in the state, or stayed right in their neighborhood, NC Campus Compact VISTAs are shifting the conversation these students are having and preparing the next generation of leaders and community organizers.   

More information about organizing and implementing alternative break programs can be found on the NC Campus Compact website on our Alternative Break Resource page.   

One student from from Takira Dale's Dive into Durham aptly sums up the ASB mindset: “Volunteering is so easy and refreshing, we should do it more often…I have no good reason to not be doing more.”