UNITE Service Corps (AmeriCorps)

14th year serving southern and eastern Kentucky

Kentucky AmeriCorps members serving with UNITE provide math tutoring and drug prevention education to elementary school students using the “Too Good for Drugs” curricula.

UNITE will engage 58 Kentucky AmeriCorps members at elementary schools in 21 school systems across 20 counties within its service region during the 2021-22 school year.

The “Too Good for Drugs” program has been found to be effective in decreasing a youth’s intention to use alcohol or other drugs. The lessons introduce and develop social and emotional skills for making healthy choices, building positive friendships, developing self-efficacy, communicating effectively, and resisting peer pressure and influence.

In addition, AmeriCorps members serving with UNITE volunteer as sponsors for anti-drug UNITE Clubs in their schools and recruit volunteers for school-based prevention programs.

Making A Difference: A National Model

UNITE first began working with the Kentucky AmeriCorps program in May 2006 through a partnership with Eastern Kentucky University. Through this partnership, UNITE coordinated drug education programs and teacher trainings throughout the Fifth Congressional District for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years. UNITE received a grant to form its own “UNITE Service Corps” AmeriCorps initiative during the 2008-09 school year with 10 AmeriCorps members.

The UNITE initiative quickly expanded and was heralded “as a model to other rural counties across the country” in October 2012 by the head of the former Corporation for National and Community Service, now known simply as AmeriCorps.

Success in the Classroom

Success of the UNITE AmeriCorps initiative is determined through pre- and post-test surveys evaluated by the University of Kentucky. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, test scores for the 2019-20 school year are not available. However, USC members became actively involved in helping their schools and communities:

During the 2019-20 school year:

  • 3,121 students began tutoring in mathematics and/or received drug-prevention education using the evidence-based “Too Good For Drugs” curricula.
  • 290 individuals were recruited as volunteers for school-based programs and provided an estimated 305 hours of service to USC schools.
  • 9,251 students received learning assistance utilizing virtual technology (Zoom, Messenger, Email or Text).
  • 56,877 meals were provided to students through school-based distribution programs. USC members provided 3,978 hours of service assisting with student meal distribution.
  • 3,637 families received food boxes or meals from USC members in addition to school-based distribution services.
  • 4,686 families received reminders to complete the U.S. Census from USC members.
  • All of the Service Corps members were state certified in FEMA disaster and emergency response by the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, enabling them to become leaders on local disaster response teams when the need arises.
  • Each member sponsored or co-sponsored a UNITE Club at their school.

2018-19 School Year

  • 2,576 students were tutored in mathematics. Math test scores for these students showed an average growth of 30.0% in math knowledge.
  • 1,572 students were taught the evidence-based “Too Good For Drugs” and “Healthy Futures/Take 10!” wellness curricula. Test scores for these students showed an average growth of 36.8% in drug education and healthy decision-making knowledge.
  • Service Corps members mentored 2,308 students in addition to those receiving tutoring.
  • 1,647 volunteers (either one-time or reoccurring) provided an estimated 6,024 hours of service to USC schools.
  • All of the Service Corps members were state certified in FEMA disaster and emergency response by the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, enabling them to become leaders on local disaster response teams when the need arises.
  • Each member sponsored or co-sponsored a UNITE Club at their school.

What is AmeriCorps?

In the fall of 2020, the federal agency responsible for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs, the Corporation for National and Community Service, officially became “AmeriCorps” in the first major update to the agency’s identity in a quarter century. As part of this rebranding initiative, all national service programs are united under a unified AmeriCorps identity and promoted under the AmeriCorps or AmeriCorps Seniors banner. This effort streamlines opportunities to serve for all Americans, at a time when their help is needed most.

Kentucky’s AmeriCorps program is part of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

2021-22 AmeriCorps members

serving with UNITE

Members are listed alphabetically by school system, then by school. Updated 2-7-2022

Barbourville Elementary – Paxton Middleton

Heritage Elementary – Ashlee Heaberlin
Prichard Elementary – Kristen Stewart
Tygart Elementary – Kami Nagle

Fairview Elementary – Natalie Church

Allen Elementary – Brittany Rodebaugh
Betsy Layne Elementary – Gary Keathley

John M. Stumbo Elementary – Shantana McCary

Prestonsburg Elementary – Amanda Hall

Black Mountain Elementary – Candace Lewis
Cumberland Elementary – Amber Chappel
Evarts Elementary – Paighton Freeman
Rosspoint Elementary – Baili Bailey

Jenkins Elementary – Jessica Tackett

Central Elementary – Taylor VanHoose
Flat Gap Elementary – Makayla Setser
Highland Elementary – Claudette Fairchild
Porter Elementary – Bryson Hackney
W.R. Castle Elementary – Heather VanHoose

Colony Elementary – Madisyn Hibbitts
Hazel Green Elementary – Pending
Hunter Hills Elementary – Pending
Johnson Elementary – Lauren Marcum

Keavy Elementary – Adrienne Gurley

Blaine Elementary – Madison Nelson
Louisa East Elementary – Baden Gillispie

Hayes Lewis Elementary – Elaina Gilliam
Mountain View Elementary – Kameron Turner
Stinnett Elementary – Austin Napier

W.B. Muncy Elementary – Whitney Dixon

Crab Orchard Elementary – Dana Shelton
Hustonville Elementary – Priscilla Miller

Waynesburg Elementary – Brenna Crawley

Salyersville Grade School – Michael Whitaker

Inez Elementary – Braxton Chase Damron

East Valley Elementary – Angelia Nikki Lewis
Wrigley Elementary – Keisha Adrianne Hager

Owsley County Elementary – Kaila Godfrey

Paintsville Elementary – Lisa Blevins

Belfry Elementary – Ashley Sesco
Bevins Elementary – Patricia Chaney
Dorton Elementary – Chandra Stewart
Elkhorn City Elementary – Alli Justice
Feds Creek Elementary – Edith Rose Dotson
Johns Creek Elementary – Derek Blake Charles
Millard Elementary – Caitlin Phillips
Mullins Elementary – Emily Davidson
Phelps Elementary – Lakeshia Prater
Valley Elementary – Tiffany Coleman

Southern Elementary – Skylin Clark

Brodhead Elementary – Jamison Roberts
Mt. Vernon Elementary – Kendra Calico
Roundstone Elementary – Karen Barron

Oak Grove Elementary – Rebecca Farmer
Pleasant View Elementary – Dorian Siler

Campton Elementary – Montana Lacy
Red River Valley Elementary – Carlee Picklesimer
Rogers Elementary – James “Jim” Manning

Listen to comments about the value of Operation UNITE’s youth initiatives, including the UNITE Service Corps (KY AmeriCorps) and UNITE Clubs, to help prevent the abuse of all substances – including drugs, tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. Comments were recorded during a Hooked On Fishing-Not On Drugs (HOFNOD) program at the Fishy Business Pay Lake in Pike County on May 25, 2016.

UNITE Service Corps Contacts

Crystal Smallwood
USC Director


Benji Hammons
USC Program Manager


Marionette Little
USC Program Staff Assistant


Kim Tackett
USC Program Staff Assistant