National Service

[How I Work] Cultivating the people who close opportunity gaps for kids

[How I Work] Cultivating the people who close opportunity gaps for kids

National education nonprofit Citizen Schools is committed to helping all children discover and achieve their dreams. Their work equipping young people with the skills, access, and beliefs to succeed in college and career inspired Michelle Carter to make the leap to Boston, relocating from her North Carolina hometown, and help re-imagine the learning day in support of students across the country. Today, Carter serves as a Talent Business Partner and has supported staff in all six of the organization’s service regions.

Bank of America, Kerry Sullivan, Recognized by Voices for National Service for Commitment to National Service

On February 14, 2017, Bank of America was awarded the Corporate Service Award by Voices for National Service at the 14th Annual Friends of National Service Awards in Washington, D.C.  The award recognizes their investment in the civic health of our nation through support of national service. We were proud to celebrate alongside Kerry Sullivan, President of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and her team - and honored to call them a partner.

A capital victory

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Guest Post by CEO Steven Rothstein

I wish you could have been with me last week in our nation’s capital. I am so inspired by so many of the students, principals, corporate partners, and others who joined us there.

On Monday, we had a special briefing on key education and STEM issues at the White House. On Tuesday, we organized, with the partnership of many other groups and organizations, the first-ever Expanded Learning Summit: Meeting In The Middle. Many joined in person and hundreds more participated in the conversation via live stream or social media. Then on Wednesday, we continued the advocacy and momentum and brought students, educators, corporate partners and our team to Capitol Hill for meetings with 36 Democratic and Republican members in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on key education issues.

The summit was the first time a group of this scale – including more than 55 distinguished speakers and panelists – has convened to discuss how expanded learning can help close the opportunity gap for our nation’s young people. We had a range of thought leaders and policy makers participate, including our chairman, Dr. Larry Summers; the Mayor of Washington D.C.; Wendy Spencer; the Deputy Mayor of New York; a representative from the George Bush Center, and literally dozens of the “best and the brightest” in our field.

We were honored to receive a special message from President Obama himself. “Events like this summit,” he wrote, “bring together those of us working on the front lines to make better use of educational time… If our next generation is going to meet the challenges of this century, they will need more time in the classroom.”

We are deeply grateful to all of those who participated in the summit, and to the many supporters and convenors who made this event possible. They are all highlighted on our event website. We are committed to the thousands of children whom we serve, and to growing the field of expanded learning. We believe that last week’s activities were critical in advancing this agenda.

As we recognize our 20 years of service, the Expanded Learning Summit highlights how much more there is to do in our next phase. In the coming days, we’ll continue to share opportunities to engage with these important ideas, including archived video from all summit sessions.

Yours in service,


CEO, Citizen Schools

P.S. We welcome your support to help more students across the country build the skills, access, and beliefs required for them to thrive as students and succeed as adults.


20 Memories for AmeriCorps' 20th

On September 12th AmeriCorps is turning 20! To celebrate the service organization and the fantastic AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and members who have served with Citizen Schools over the years, we highlight the influential work of 20 members:

5reasons5 Reasons I'm Glad I Became a Teaching Fellow

George Ganzenmuller was a Second Year Teaching Fellow at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, MA. 

"While it can be difficult to explain my job to friends or curious strangers, I think it is this breadth of experiences and responsibilities that made this the perfect post-college position for me."

shetookthetimeShe Took the Time to Care: A Student's Story

Esmeralda Soto, a 
Citizen Schools alumna from Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto will be the first to tell you about the impact that her AmeriCorpsTeaching Fellow Sarah Partin has had on her life.

"Through her encouragement and guidance, I feel am ready for tomorrow’s challenges."

makingsurestudentssucceedMaking Sure Students Succeed by Serving

Malcolm Morse  served as a Teaching Fellow in Houston, Texas.

"I feel as if the ultimate reward for teachers is to see how much their students grow and succeed in life and that’s what inspires me to show up every day ready to make a positive impact."

whyiserveWhy I Serve, and Why You Should Too

Marlee Henderson  served as a Teaching Fellow in Durham, North Carolina.

"My first year as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow has taught me a lot about the importance of this type of service. Everyone has different career interests, but at the root of all of them is wanting to create a lasting impact and contribute to society."

Cs-Elle-Story-2-274x300Why I Get Up for Work in the Morning

Alyssa Pressman  served as a Teaching Fellow in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"For me, deciding to join the AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellowship was all about the people. It’s hard not to like the people you work with when you’re all there to make a real difference and serve the community. I instantly liked them and knew I had made the choice."

oaklandI Moved Back to Oakland to Fight Inequality

Nhi Truong served as a Teaching Fellow in Oakland, California.

"I want them to know that we may not have the same struggles, but if I can make it, they can make it. And I’m here to let them know how powerful and beautiful they all are."

2011-WOW-300x225Learning to Lead by Serving

Colin Jones was a second year Teaching Fellow at Citizen Schools Massachusetts.

"I almost teared up right there. In that moment, I had an ephemeral treasure that reinforced everything I hoped to achieve."

despiteshutdownDespite Shutdown, AmeriCorps Still Gets Things Done

Callie Kozlak is the Director of Public Funding Strategy at Citizen Schools.

"Now more than ever, national service programs like AmeriCorps should be celebrated and supported." 
teachingrobotsWhat I Learned by Teaching Robotics
Jared Noll served as a Teaching Fellow at Eagle Academy in Newark, New Jersey.
"Teaching an apprenticeship certainly isn’t easy, but like most everything else in life, hard work pays off."
Beach-Post2-300x225Finding Balance in the Classroom

Greg Beach served at Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

"That being said, finding a balance between one’s own values and style and the practical demands of reality is essential to becoming a successful Teaching Fellow."
notallrainbowsIt's Not All Rainbows and Sunshine, But it's Worth It

Jessica Eddy served as a Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools New York.

It was in that moment, for the very first time, that I recognized the value of my work. If nothing else, I came to know that I represent a steady force in students’ lives, someone they look forward to seeing everyday just as much as they look forward to driving crazy, and someone they know will stick it out with them and for them when times are hard."
teachfellowreflectsTeaching Fellow Reflects on Two Years of Service

Amanda Worrell served as a 
Teaching Fellow at De Vargas Middle School in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

"My love for teaching really began to resonate with me when I witnessed my first “aha” moment with my students."
pursuitofhappinessThe Pursuit of Happiness: Students Give Back to Community

Sarah Partin served as a Teaching Fellow in East Palo Alto, California.

"As a second year Teaching Fellow, I can say that this apprenticeship has been a truly transformative experience, not only for my students, but also for myself, my Citizen Teacher, and for any community members that were impacted by these students."
aspartanfightsA Spartan Fights for Educational Equality

Liz McNeil graduated from 
Michigan State in August, 2006. She is a Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow Alum.

"I think more than anything, I have stayed in the teaching profession because I value the relationships formed with students and families and believe that mutual responsibility and respect for learning is key to success."

chasethemDon't Follow Your Dreams, Chase Them!

Ashley Kirklen served as a Second Year Teaching Fellow at Eastway Middle School, Charlotte, North Carolina.

"As I embark on the next phase of my life, as scary as it may be, I remind myself that I have a responsibility to live out what I teach to my students."
tenthingsTen Things I Learned as a Teaching Fellow

Jessi Worde served as a  Teaching Fellow at Van Buren Middle School in Albuquerque, NM.

"Being a middle schooler is very hard.  The more people are kind to you, and care for you, the greater your chances of surviving adolescence with grace and success."
ateachingfellowreflectsA Teaching Fellow Reflects on Fall Semester

Sylvia Monreal served as a Teaching Fellow at MLK Middle School in Newark, New Jersey

"I hope I never forget the afternoon that a 6th grade boy, blind in one eye and all too quick to fight, ran up to me to show me a complete 3D puzzle, shouting, 'I did it! I finally did it! It just took patience, just like you said!'"
thegoodthebadThe Good, the Bad, and the Motivation: Tales of a Teaching Fellow

Destiny Waggoner served as a Teaching Fellow at Sharpstown Middle School in Houston, Texas.

"As a Teaching Fellow, you’ll have good days and bad days. You’ll have days when you love coming into work and days when you really don’t want to, but you do instead."
sometimeswhenplansSometimes, When Plans Break Down - Learning Emerges

Oscar Robles is the Manager of Non Profit Partnerships for Us2020
. He served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member in New Jersey.
"I learned a lot from that day – mostly, the power of flexibility."
alastinglegacyA Lasting Legacy

Jaleesa Jones served as a 
Teaching Fellow at Ivy Hill Elementary School in Newark, New Jersey.

"Through Project Playground, each of our students learned what it takes to become legendary."



Why The AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellowship is the Most Awesome Way to Make a Difference

The best job you can get after college is serving as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools. As a Teaching Fellow alumna, I can say this from experience: this work is challenging, rewarding, and totally awesome. With help from my fellow Difference Makers from all over the country I will tell you why...

1. Teaching awesome students

The best part of the AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellowship is the chance to work closely with the most inspiring kids ever. Citizen Schools works with public middle schools in low-income, urban areas. These students might not have access to all of the same opportunities that their more affluent peers have, but they are bright, and eager to learn. As a Teaching Fellow, you will lead classes in the afternoon-- helping these students grow academically and emotionally, and believe that they can go to college and have successful careers.

Jessica Eddy, second year Teaching Fellow in New York City, recalls the moment she realized she was making an impact, “Nothing hit me harder than when one of my students asked, ‘Ms. Eddy, are you going to leave us? Are you going to quit?’ It was in that moment, for the very first time, that I recognized the value of my work. If nothing else, I came to know that I represent a steady force in students’ lives, someone they look forward to seeing everyday, and someone they know will stick it out with them when times are hard.”

2. Serving your country with supportive people.

The National Teaching Fellowship is one of the many service programs supported by AmeriCorps. Simply put, AmeriCorps members get things done. They give students access to quality education, fight hunger, build houses, and make America better every day. The Teaching Fellowship is not only an opportunity to serve great students, but a chance to serve your country, and make a real impact on America’s future in only two years. You will connect with families and help bring volunteers into the classroom. This type of service builds communities and brings people together in support of students.

But we don’t expect you to solve these huge societal issues alone. Being an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow means getting to work as part of a team that will always have your back.

Alyssa Pressman, first year Teaching Fellow in Charlotte, North Carolina, said, “We all have many roles, from managing volunteers, to analyzing student grades, and the best part is that we’re all there to support and learn from each other. We laugh every day, have fun every day, and I look forward to going to work to see them. I knew this work would be challenging, but my team helps me understand that no matter how hard it can be on some days, together we are making a real impact on kids.”

3. Growing as a professional and as a person

Spoiler Alert: This is the part where you start excitedly filling out the application.

After serving in the AmeriCorps Teaching Fellowship you will be so much more mature, professional, well-rounded, and just better overall. Trust me. In just two years, you’ll not only help students achieve, but you will develop skills in relationship management, data analysis, project management, communication, leadership, and more. Added bonus: These skills make you marketable in all industries, so whatever your future holds, the Fellowship will help you get there.

Teaching Fellows also get to work with professionals from all types of career. Hello, networking! Part of what makes participating in Citizen Schools so impactful on students is the apprenticeship program. Volunteers from some of the biggest companies- Google, Facebook, EMC, Cognizant, and more join Teaching Fellows in the classroom to lead students through hands on projects that expose them to exciting careers. The kids get inspired to dream big, and Teaching Fellows get to interact and network with successful professionals from a wide range of career fields.

Sarah Rabiner, Teaching Fellow alumna, said, “The amount of professional development and support that I experienced at Citizen Schools is unlike anything that I’ve experienced before or since. There are so many buckets of skills that are important to long term professional success and career satisfaction that I was exposed to in an intensive way during the Fellowship.”

So there you have it. The AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellowship at Citizen Schools is a great way to make a difference-- on yourself, on students, and on the community. Apply today for the chance to change lives.

Why I Get Up for Work in the Morning

Alyssa Pressman is a first year National Teaching Fellow in Charlotte, North Carolina. 


I go to work every day with a purpose and leave every day excited about the next. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but when I made the decision to be an AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools, I knew it was the right choice thanks to the people I get to work with every day-- my team, and my students.

1. The Team.

For me, deciding to join the AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellowship was all about the people. When I first met my team at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina, I saw how much they truly cared about and supported each other. It’s hard not to like the people you work with when you’re all there to make a real difference and serve the community. I instantly liked them and knew I had made the choice.

Cs Elle Story 2

I never really thought about being a teacher, but the Fellowship is so unique in that you get to teach students, while being part of such a collaborative and well-rounded team. We all have many roles, from managing volunteers, to analyzing student grades, and the best part is that we’re all there to support and learn from each other. We laugh every day, have fun every day, and I look forward to going to work to see them. I knew this work would be challenging, but my team helps me understand that no matter how hard it can be on some days, together we are making a real impact on kids.


2. The  Students

At the beginning of the year, one student’s mom told me that her daughter never wanted to be in school. She had a problem with too many absences and her mom really wanted her to socialize and be more confident. According to research by Robert Balfanz, less than 80% attendance in 6th grade put students at high risk for dropping out of school down the road. I was immediately concerned and determined to help this sweet, shy student.

20140210_164504I have a rule in my classroom that when my students speak they have to stand up so that they get comfortable talking in front of a group. I knew this student was a hard worker and she had a flare for art, so I would ask her about her artwork and get her talk about it with me one on one. After spending the time to really connect with her, one day when I asked a question in class, she was the first one to stand up and answer the question. Now she reaches out to help out other students in the classroom and participates regularly. I am proud to say that she had perfect school attendance during her first semester of Citizen Schools.

That story always reminds me just how rewarding it is when you have one of those amazing days with the students. You never know what they are going to come into the classroom with and it can be really tough sometimes. But the students want to learn, and I go back to work every day to help them. It surprised me just how much they have made an impact on me, and how I can leave work feeling like it was the best day ever, no matter what the challenges are.

Joining the Teaching Fellowship is by far the best decision I have ever made. I always tell my friends and family that everyone who graduates from college should do some kind of service, and the AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellowship is a great way to serve.  I don’t think there is any job out there more rewarding. Every day I have the chance to give these students the belief that they can go to college and achieve their dreams. The Teaching Fellowship is going to push you as a person and as a professional. You are going to grow and learn so much. It is definitely a challenge, but no matter how tough my day is, when I go home I know I made  a difference. And when I wake up in the morning I am excited to do it again.

You can make an impact while shaping your career like Alyssa, by applying to the National Teaching Fellowship today.

National Service Task Force Announced at the White House

Eric Schwarz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Citizen Schools and the Executive Chairman of US2020.

Today was an exciting day for national service and volunteerism. President Obama honored the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award winner and President George H.W. Bush for his lifetime of public service including as founder of the Points of Light movement which promotes the power of individuals to change the world through service. Building on the tradition of bipartisan support for national service and volunteerism, President Obama announced the creation of the National Service Task Force led by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The Task Force of cabinet-level appointees will look at new ways to expand national service to meet needs in America in collaboration with other Federal agencies and the private sector.

tf and kid

Last month, I wrote a blog post in response to Gen. McChrystal’s call to national service in the Wall Street Journal. Young Americans are hungry for national service opportunities, but there aren’t enough positions to accommodate all who want to serve. In fact at Citizen Schools and AmeriCorps overall, there are about seven qualified applicants for every available position.

The new taskforce will help open up more service positions to complement the critically important work of CNCS programs like AmeriCorps. The task force will be co-chaired by Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, and Cecilia Munoz, head of the Domestic Policy Council.  It will look to create additional cross-agency service collaborations - building on FEMA Corps, School Turnaround AmeriCorps, and STEM AmeriCorps - and pursue other ways to advance options for more Americans to serve.

tf group

National service is already having a major impact on our country’s future. One example is the Citizen Schools National Teaching Fellowship, one of many AmeriCorps opportunities, which adds time and resources to schools that are stretched too thin.

AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows provide academic support, make connections between college and careers, and help students build critical skills to prepare for the 21st century workplace. Thanks to these AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and hundreds of volunteers from corporations and organizations across the country, Expanded Learning Time (ELT) schools are seeing 10-20 percentage point gains in math and English in just three years. Students are graduating at a rate 20% higher than their matched peers. And they are excited to become future engineers, doctors, and computer programmers, expressing interest in STEM careers at more than twice the rate of their peers.

It is exciting to hear President Obama and President Bush come together to harness American idealism and national service as a way to solve the great challenges the country faces. Citizen Schools is tackling several of these challenges head-on, including the current STEM education challenge. The demand for professionals in the STEM fields is projected to dramatically outpace the supply of STEM graduates over the coming decades, partly because many students, particularly girls and underrepresented minorities, receive little exposure to STEM opportunities. A Lemelson-MIT survey found that a majority of teenagers may be discouraged from pursuing STEM careers because they do not know anyone who works in these fields and they do not understand what people in these fields do.


Through Citizen Schools’ volunteer-led “apprenticeship” opportunities and the newly formed US2020 initiative, students will have the chance to make that connection between school and STEM careers. US2020 aims to help prepare the next generation of innovators by recruiting and training STEM professionals to lead school-based and extra-curricular projects with students, such as building robots, conducting medical experiments, designing video games, and launching rockets.

By bringing one million mentors into classrooms across the country by the year 2020 through nonprofits like Citizen Schools, the Girl Scouts, 4H and more, students will be able to have the inspiration they deserve. Those moments of discovery would not be possible without dedicated AmeriCorps members and volunteers. They are truly points of light.

With the new Task Force, STEM AmeriCorps and US2020 will have more opportunities for VISTA and AmeriCorps members to act as the essential mobilizers of volunteer STEM mentors, helping them connect underserved children to opportunities in STEM fields. I believe national service can bridge the gaps that exist in education and I am excited to work with AmeriCorps and others to get more STEM professionals out of their labs and their cubicles and into classrooms and extended day programs.