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Cutting AmeriCorps May Hurt Colorado Students Already In Need

Elliot Haney
City Year
A City Year member works with students in a school in Sacramento, California.

AmeriCorps -- the long-running public service program administered by the federal government -- may be on the chopping block. According to The New York Times, one of the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts is the Corporation for National and Community Service, the office that oversees AmeriCorps.

CNCS programs have been expanded by nearly every administration since the corporation’s creation under President George H. W. Bush. Eliminating the office could signify a sea change in public policy: Trump may be the first president in recent memory to back away from federally-subsidized public service.

Eric Gorksi, bureau chief for Chalkbeat in Colorado, took a look at the possible effects of slashing AmeriCorps. In Colorado, AmeriCorps runs 91 projects overall in 394 locations through the work of 2,577 participants. There’s $17.7 million in program funding at play in Colorado, with $12.9 million going towards potential scholarships for participants.

Gorksi points to City Year -- a program that focuses on classroom support for high-poverty schools -- as one of the examples of how Colorado could be affected by a cut to AmeriCorps. It serves nine schools in Denver.

“You can just see kids are getting attention who otherwise would not. I talked to a principal at North High School in Denver, who described watching these young people work with his students. He saw one AmeriCorps member -- one City Year member -- pull four kids who were struggling out of an algebra class,” Gorski says. “He sat these kids down in the hallway, with a whiteboard, they all had their whiteboards, and they worked on some programs.”

Gorski also points to a study commissioned by City Year that found that partner schools were more likely to improve their standardized test scores in english and math. Most students at City Year schools are economically disadvantaged. In Denver, 84 percent of students in partner schools fall into that category, and all of City Year’s sites in Denver are considered high poverty schools. Like North High School.

“This principal observed that if that were not available, those kids probably would have sat in the class with their heads down, and fallen even farther behind,” Gorski says.

Ann Marie Awad's journalistic career has seen her zigzag around the United States, finally landing on Colorado. Before she trekked to this neck of the woods, she was a reporter and Morning Edition host for WRKF in Baton Rouge, Louisiana's capitol. In a former life, she was a reporter in New York City. Originally, she's from Buffalo, so she'll be the judge of whether or not your chicken wings are up to snuff, thank you very much.
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