National Service is in the spotlight. Several Presidential candidates have called for strengthening programs, or even suggesting service should be mandatory for all young people. September began AmeriCorps 25th anniversary and now is a great time to look at how national service impacts Nevada. AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that empower people to improve their communities. This year 420 AmeriCorps members will impact over 8,200 Nevadans through 11 different AmeriCorps programs.
Breaking that number down even further shows that 2,500 students will receive STEM learning opportunities, 550 students in Las Vegas will receive academic mentoring, 450 people in rural Nevada will learn about healthy habits, 800 seniors will be supported with access to SNAP and healthcare, 225 people will learn about the benefits of vaccinations, and 3,700 students will learn how to protect their environment. Additionally, members will maintain 100 miles of hiking trails to provide access to Nevada’s public lands. 3,150 acres of those public lands will be at lower risk for wildfire after improvements made by AmeriCorps members.
AmeriCorps members only receive a modest living stipend and the promise of an education award for completing their service, but there are many benefits of service. As an AmeriCorps member serving in Nevada, I gained valuable leadership skills through numerous professional development opportunities. Even as a native Nevadan I felt more connected and engaged with my community than I ever had before. I’m not alone feeling like that either, according to a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, 82% of AmeriCorps alumni feel a stronger attachment to their community after service. This sense of community increases civic engagement and with 92% of AmeriCorps alumni reporting that they are registered to vote it’s obvious the desire to better their communities doesn’t end after they complete their service. AmeriCorps provides Nevada with civic-minded citizens who care about and want to improve the communities they live in.
AmeriCorps and national service works. It forges a deeper connection between an individual and their community. It provides a path for those who want to create a positive impact on their surroundings. AmeriCorps has been getting things done in Nevada for 25 years and with the support of communities throughout the state members will continue to get things done for years to come.
-Matthew DeBray, External Affairs Coordinator, Nevada Volunteers