AmeriCorps funds 250 volunteers through ASC

(07-07-2011)

Adams State College will expand its AmeriCorps program, thanks to a new, three-year grant totaling $275,000, awarded through the Colorado Service Corps (formerly Colorado Compact).

"We are absolutely delighted that ASC/CSC is one of the fortunate programs that will continue to receive this funding," said Karen Lemke, who coordinates the service program at Adams State. "The AmeriCorps program benefits students, the college, and our community." Some federal programs were eliminated due to a 25 percent federal funding cut, she said.

AmeriCorps is a national service program that can be considered a domestic Peace Corps. It provides a $1,100 education award to college and high school students who complete 300 hours of community service, or 6-10 hours a week. AmeriCorps emphasizes service that benefits education, health care, or non-profit organization capacity building.

Adams State's participation in AmeriCorps grew from 80 volunteers in 2009, to 147 in 2010. The new grant will support 250 volunteers, including 11 at Alamosa's homeless shelter, La Puente. The agency that formerly supported the shelter's volunteers was defunded.

AmeriCorps volunteers work on the Alamosa Community Garden during Adams State's Martin Luther King Jr. Day service effort.

This past year, 147 AmeriCorps volunteers coordinated through Adams State performed nearly 43,000 hours of service in the San Luis Valley, Lemke said. The group included 80 high school students, 40 Adams State students, and others from Trinidad State Junior College and the SLV community. Volunteers served at schools and day care centers, the Boys & Girls Club, nursing homes, medical centers and clinics, among other agencies.

In addition to expanding Adams State's volunteer base, the new AmeriCorps grant will support development of an educational mentoring program for Adams State students working with high school and middle school students.

"This is a great way to help high school students access higher education," Lemke added. "The college helps them connect with community needs, and they gain experience in careers that support the common good."

By Julie Waechter