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Making a teaching career more affordable

City Year is offering a fellowship program that makes becoming a teacher more affordable for AmeriCorps members, helping widen the pool of young educators available to support systemically under-resourced schools.

AmeriCorps members can apply for City Year Teaching Fellowships to extend their service to a second year, while earning a master’s degree in education and their teaching certification, says Jeanette Rojas, a school design senior manager at City Year who runs the fellowship. Fellows like Rachel D’Onfro, a City Year Boston alum who graduated from the program last year, continue to earn an AmeriCorps stipend and scholarship during their teacher training at a City Year partner school.

“It was so great to get paid for doing this work that we love,” says D’Onfro, who now teaches at a school in Boston. “I had just so many levels of support. So many people guided me and helped me become a better teacher.”

The fellowship was put in place in Boston with the support of the Vertex Foundation, a City Year National Partner. City Year places about 3,000 AmeriCorps members every year in classrooms across the country, as part of a strategy to address educational inequities that have been magnified by the pandemic. As AmeriCorps members collaborate with teachers during their full-time service in classrooms, some discover that their next step will be a career in teaching.

A young girl in a classroom taking with a City Year Americorps member

The Vertex Foundation partnership

City Year trains Boston fellows in collaboration with Boston Public Schools and the University of Massachusetts. In addition to sponsoring Boston fellows, the Vertex Foundation also supports City Year’s Whole School, Whole Child approach, which focuses on the development of students’ academic, social and emotional skills—like teamwork, resilience and decision-making. City Year intentionally places AmeriCorps members in systemically under-resourced schools to help improve graduation rates by strengthening their support networks for students.

Employees of Vertex also take part in volunteer events that benefit schools and communities in the U.S. and at City Year’s international affiliate in the United Kingdom, where the Foundation supports its Career Pathways Program focused on increasing workforce opportunities for young people after their service. The Foundation also invests in diversity, equity and inclusion at City Year UK and directly supports a City Year UK partner school in London.

At City Year Boston, the Vertex Foundation supports  efforts to strengthen diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging through trainings for staff and City Year AmeriCorps members, and funds professional development training for AmeriCorps members preparing to join the workforce after service—including as teachers.

About 86% of City Year AmeriCorps members who become educators are still teaching three years later, higher than U.S. averages, Rojas says. During their service, AmeriCorps members collaborate full time with teachers, experience that helps inform their decision about whether to pursue a career in the field—or apply for the fellowship.

“City Year creates a unique pre-teacher pathway,” Rojas says. “That first year of AmeriCorps service gives our student success coaches an opportunity to say, `I’m ready to become a teacher.’”

City Year stipends and scholarships

New Hampshire native D’Onfro applied to the fellowship knowing she could make ends meet with the service stipend, allowing her to focus on her degree without having to juggle a weekend job to help pay for it. Many programs don’t compensate graduate students who are required to teach to earn their degree. The program also offers additional training to help fellows earn endorsements to serve students who are English language learners and students who qualify for special education support.

Taking into account the AmeriCorps stipend and scholarship, the fellowship costs about $7,000 in Boston and about $3,000 in Denver, the other city where it’s offered, Rojas says. The program has graduated 10 fellows, will add nine this school year, and another 17 in the 2021-2022 school year.

During her fellowship, an experienced teacher at a City Year partner school in Boston mentored D’Onfro, modeled how to manage a classroom and helped D’Onfro quickly ramp up to teaching independently. That same mentor later provided D’Onfro with a work reference—as did her partner teacher from her first year of service as an AmeriCorps member—making her job search easier.

After graduating from the program last year, the City Year alum now teaches at a vocational high school in Boston with many English language learners—mirroring her AmeriCorps service experience.

Find out more about how City Year is advancing educational equity.

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