For those who are about to graduate college and are not yet fully ready to enter the workforce of their chosen profession, there are programs such as Teach for America, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps that will have participants perform valuable community service.
Although these mentioned programs are all separate individual organizations, they share the same mission in wanting to better the world in terms of poverty, education, and the environment. Most corps members are recent college graduates.
Teach for America is a nationally-based organization that promotes equal educational opportunities in classrooms located in lower-income communities. As of 2017, the 3500 incoming corps members, approximately 64% of them were graduating college seniors. Once fully trained, these members are assigned to teach in classrooms that range from pre-K through grade 12 for roughly two years, and receive the same salary and health benefits as that of a full-time schoolteacher.
One does not necessarily have to have a degree in education, but must possess a state-issued teaching permit in order to be hired. In order to be eligible for TFA consideration, one must have a bachelor’s degree by June 2018, a minimum GPA of 2.5, and proof of citizenship, permanent resident status, or deferred action. Applications for the 2018 corps are now open on Teach for America’s website.
Peace Corps also promotes sound community service, but corps members can serve in sixty countries throughout the world. Similar to that of Teach of America, Peace Corps requires its members to serve for two years and the areas of service one can participate in involve Agriculture, Environment, Community Economic Development, Health, Education, and Youth in Development.
For example, Agriculture volunteers have the opportunity to work with third-world farmers and introduce them to methods preventing soil erosion and the usage of pesticide, while Community Economic Development volunteers work with local banks to promote economic development in underdeveloped areas. Youth in Development volunteers primarily work with inner-city youth to educate them on issues such as gender awareness, employment, and HIV prevention. While the Peace Corps do not pay their members, members do receive housing and transportation stipends as well as medical and dental care. In order to be eligible to join the Peace Corps, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, and can find applications on the Peace Corps website.
AmeriCorps is a program that offers valuable opportunities for young adults who want to improve the world’s conditions. Often referred to as the “domestic Peace Corps,” this organization branches off into AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCC, but they all provide positions that members can assume to give back to the community in terms of breaking out of poverty. Corps members for this organization are required to serve from 10 months to 1 year, and need to be typically 17-18 years old in order to apply for volunteer positions. Although members are not paid, completion of the volunteer assignment results in the receiving of the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which pays for the educational costs at accredited graduate school programs. To apply to the AmeriCorps, one must complete the application on their website.
“Although I am not graduating any time soon, the prospects of joining such programs are very high and seem extremely beneficial with regards to community impact,” says Zenit Winfield, a first-year Biophysics major. “I am strongly considering joining the Peace Corps before I head on to medical school. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for someone who wants to create a positive impact in the world.”