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3 Little Reasons to Serve

What 3 first graders have to tell you about serving with City Year

They may be little, but they have big ideas to share! I interviewed 3 first grade students to find out why they think people should serve with City Year and what influences City Year AmeriCorps members have had in their lives.

A young student writes a note of appreciation on a clipboard. Drawing and note are a thank you for her City Year AmeriCorps member

#1 “You should be a City Year AmeriCorps member because then you can make a difference for a lot of people.” -Analeah

Analeah was busy drawing a picture of Ms. Wiley, her beloved City Year AmeriCorps member, when she told me this. She captioned her picture, “Ms. Wiley, thank you for being special.” She explained that Ms. Wiley is special because she makes her feel happy and teaches her things.

In small group sessions with City Year AmeriCorps members, Analeah and other young students are learning the skills they need to read. Analeah told me that she needs to know what sound letters make so she can become a doctor one day.

#2 “You should be a City Year AmeriCorps member because I’m nice and I’m beautiful.” -Ronald

Ronald has clearly formed positive relationships with the City Year AmeriCorps members he sees at school every day. He told me they make him want to be a good student.

It’s true that City Year AmeriCorps members work with incredible students. Young people who are nice, beautiful, and ready to learn. Most AmeriCorps members say that the students they work with are their biggest motivation for coming to school each day.

#3 “You should be a City Year AmeriCorps member so you can be nice. You can teach me stuff like vowels, words, and reading. You can teach me how to be calm.” -Lashawn

Lashawn couldn’t decide what the most important thing he has learned from City Year AmeriCorps members was – was it learning to calm down when he’s mad or learning to read words? Lashawn told me about one AmeriCorps member he works with, Ms. Francis. Lashawn said, “Whenever I have a problem, she takes me outside to chill with her and calm down.” When he is calmed down, he gets to return to the classroom to learn. And over time, Lashawn is learning essential emotional regulation skills with Ms. Francis.

Lashawn also told me about his favorite activity from his reading small group led by City Year AmeriCorps members. “Sometimes, we play a game called Word Uno. It’s a card game where you have to say the words on the cards. And we have skips and wild cards. And then you get to say ‘uno!’ and you win!” By creating activities that make learning fun, City Year AmeriCorps members support student success and help make school a place where students want to come learn.


These are just 3 reasons from 3 little first graders at ARISE Academy, but I hope they show you the difference that City Year AmeriCorps members make in a young student’s life. If you or someone you know is interested in serving for one of these reasons or any others, head to to learn more.


*Student names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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