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 18 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 9-8-2021

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

FAIRVIEW INDEPENDENT (BOYD COUNTY)
Fairview Elementary – Natalie Church

FLOYD COUNTY
Allen Elementary – Pending
Betsy Layne Elementary – Gary Keathley

Duff-Allen Central Elementary – Pending
John M. Stumbo Elementary – Pending

Prestonsburg Elementary – Pending
South Floyd Elementary – Pending

HARLAN COUNTY
Black Mountain Elementary – Candace Lewis
Cumberland Elementary – Amber Chappell
Evarts Elementary – Paiaghton Freeman

JENKINS INDEPENDENT (LETCHER COUNTY)
Jenkins Elementary – Jessica Tackett

JOHNSON COUNTY
Central Elementary – Taylor VanHoose
Flat Gap Elementary – Pending
Highland Elementary – Claudette Fairchild
Porter Elementary – Pending
W.R. Castle Elementary – Heather VanHoose

LAUREL COUNTY
Hazel Green Elementary – Pending
Johnson Elementary – Pending

Keavy Elementary – Adrienne Gurley

LAWRENCE COUNTY
Blaine Elementary – Pending
Fallsburg Elementary – Pending
Louisa East Elementary – Pending

LESLIE COUNTY
Hayes Lewis Elementary – Pending
Mountain View Elementary – Kameron Turner
Stinnett Elementary – Dawson Sizemore

W.B. Muncy Elementary – Whitney Dixon

LINCOLN COUNTY
Crab Orchard Elementary – Pending
Hustonville Elementary – Priscilla Miller

Stanford Elementary – Pending
Waynesburg Elementary – Pending

MAGOFFIN COUNTY
Salyersville Grade School – Michael Whitaker

MARTIN COUNTY
Inez Elementary – Braxton Chase Damron

MORGAN COUNTY
East Valley Elementary – Pending
Wrigley Elementary – Keisha Hager

OWSLEY COUNTY
Owsley County Elementary – Pending

PAINTSVILLE INDEPENDENT (JOHNSON COUNTY)
Paintsville Elementary – Pending

PIKE COUNTY
Belfry Elementary – Ashley Sesco
Bevins Elementary – Trish Chaney
Dorton Elementary – Pending
Elkhorn City Elementary – Alli Justice
Feds Creek Elementary – Rose Dotson
Johns Creek Elementary – Derek Blake Charles
Millard Elementary – Caitlin Phillips
Mullins Elementary – Emily Davidson
Phelps Elementary – Elizabeth Thompson
Valley Elementary – Tiffany Coleman

PULASKI COUNTY
Southern Elementary – Skylin Clark

ROCKCASTLE COUNTY
Brodhead Elementary – Pending
Mt. Vernon Elementary – Pending
Roundstone Elementary – Pending

WHITLEY COUNTY
Oak Grove Elementary – Pending
Pleasant View Elementary – Dorian Siler

WOLFE COUNTY
Campton Elementary – Pending
Red River Valley Elementary – Carlee Picklesimer
Rogers Elementary – James 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

csmallwood@centertech.com
606-369-4408

Benji Hammons
USC Program Manager

bhammons@centertech.com
606-312-3441

Marionette Little
USC Program Staff Assistant

mlittle@centertech.com
606-234-5341

Kim Tackett
USC Program Staff Assistant

ktackett@centertech.com
606-616-3577