Deborah Walnicki, a first-year sociology major and alumnus of City Year program, said she decided to send in an application to City Year, a non-profit organization that offers full-time service to young adults, after hearing an advertisement for the organization on National Public Radio.
“Volunteering and education are two things I’m very passionate about and when I heard that I could have the opportunity to make a difference I decided to apply,” said Walnicki.
City Year is a government funded, Americorp organization that offers young adults between the ages of 17 to 24 a full-time job opportunity to work in inner-city schools as tutors and mentors, allowing them to attain marketable and transferable skills. The purpose of this organization is to keep children in school. The role of these young leaders as tutors and mentors will do that, said Emmanuel Sterling, the recruitment outreach manager.
City Year operates in 20 cities across the country. In New York City, City Year is established in four out of the five boroughs.
Jamir Dickens, a current City Corps member who joined in August 2010, said City Year is a challenging program that builds character and improves leadership skills.
Dickens said he took a year off from college because of debt. He used City Year to help alleviate the debt he acquired from college.
City Year offers 10-month long full-time service to young adults, from June to August. The organization targets college and high school graduates, as well as current undergraduate students who plan on taking an academic year off because it is a full-time job and is time consuming, said Sterling.
Walnicki said she became a City Year corps member right after high school. She spent a year with City Year before she started college.
“I graduated high school in June 2009 and entered City Year right after at 17-years-old,” said Walnicki.
Walnicki was a City Corps member from August 2009 to June 2010. She worked at P.S. 57, a public school in East Harlem. Her job included assisting teachers in classrooms and providing one-on-one tutoring for students.
“My favorite part of City Year was the students,” said Walnicki. “We worked to encourage students, empower them and help them succeed.”
Sterling said it is a program designed to help high school and college graduates transition into the real world.
City Year provides City Corps members with a bi-weekly living stipend, health insurance and student loan forbearance. City Corps also provides a $5,350 Americorps Education Award to each City Year corps member that completes their program, said Sterling.
City Year also offers City Corps. members opportunities to better the community by participating in service projects.
“Outside of the school, City Year is very focused on community service,” said Walnicki. “This means attending service days cleaning up parks, painting murals and beautifying the community.”
City Year is also big on personal development. City year hosts college and career fairs and other events with networking opportunities.
City Year is looking for 315 City Corps positions to be filled for the August 2011- June 2012 school year.