LONDON – The UNITE Service Corps has received funding for 44 AmeriCorps members to provide math tutoring and substance abuse prevention education during the 2015-16 school year.
The $543,400 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will enable UNITE to place AmeriCorps members at elementary schools in Bell, Breathitt, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Laurel, Leslie, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle and Wolfe counties, and East Bernstadt Independent – the same school systems served this past school year.
In addition to math tutoring, AmeriCorps members teach the “Too Good for Drugs” and “Healthy Futures/Take 10” wellness curriculums, as well as coordinate anti-drug UNITE Clubs in their school. In addition, members participate in their local UNITE Community Coalitions and recruit volunteers who provide thousands of hours for school prevention activities.
As of mid-year, the most recent stats available, UNITE Service Corps members had tutored 2,459 students in math and provided mentoring to 3,815 students, said Eugene Newsome, USC Program Director. The overall growth in math test scores was 42.42% – the highest rate of success for individual students in program history – and the average increase in drug education knowledge was 40.53%.
Earlier this year, CNCS Chief Executive Officer Wendy Spencer lauded the UNITE Service Corps as “a model for communities across the nation” for developing “a winning strategy to help thousands of Kentucky youth keep away from drugs and stay on track in school.”
“We are proud of the accomplishments of our Service Corps members,” said Nancy Hale, president/CEO of Operation UNITE, who served as co-program director for the initiative until taking her current position this past February. “They are making a difference in many young lives.”
Service Corps Program Director Eugene Newsome noted that AmeriCorps members are also very involved outside their schools, working with UNITE youth initiatives – such as Shoot Hoops Not Drugs and Camp UNITE – as well as their local volunteer community coalitions.
“AmeriCorps members are an invaluable resource for the populations they serve,” Newsome said. “I salute their dedication and strong work ethic.”
Two other Kentucky programs serving the Fifth Congressional District receiving funding:
• Teach for America-Kentucky in Hazard ($36,800). Teach for America-Kentucky members will serve as classroom teachers in low-income rural schools resulting in improved educational outcomes for students. The program will serve schools in the central Appalachia school districts in southeastern Kentucky.
• Morehead State University’s MSU Corps ($379,035). MSU Corps members will provide reading tutoring for academically at-risk students utilizing the “Great Leaps” reading curriculum and recruit and train community volunteers to be reading tutors. Members develop and demonstrate skills in tutoring, civic engagement and volunteer recruitment in Eastern Kentucky.
“The commonwealth sees great rewards from national service,” said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. “AmeriCorps fills pressing social needs and makes our communities stronger.”
“Members gain leadership skills and career experience,” Beshear added. “We value AmeriCorps partnerships and congratulate the programs that have received grant funding.”
AmeriCorps is a national service program administered by the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS), part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and the federal Corporation for National and Community Service.
KCCVS Executive Director Joe Bringardner said he is proud of Kentucky programs’ showing among the national grant awardees.
“These programs have distinct goals to help educate youth, provide comfort to seniors and rebuild families’ lives by building homes,” Bringardner said. “Our AmeriCorps members use their talents, their vision and their boundless energy to establish immediate and long-lasting change in Kentucky.”