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Take a Gap Year with an AmeriCorps Term of Service

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 @ 12:12 AM

Posted by Joanne Bauer

Keystone AmericorpsKNOX, Pa. (EYT) – A gap year, also known as a sabbatical year, is typically a year-long break before or after college/university during which students engage in various educational and developmental activities, such as travel or some type of regular work.

(Pictured: A Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps member meeting with students for virtual lessons to continue building their reading skills.)

Gap years usually occur between high school and university; or after graduating from university and before entry into graduate school. One option for a Gap year would be to join a national service program such as Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps.

An AmeriCorps Term of Service provides individuals with the opportunity to learn new things about the world while developing skills that help pave the way to higher education and/or a career and gaining independence and confidence as you develop real-world skills through hands-on service.

Those enrolling as AmeriCorps Members for their Gap Year receive a modest living allowance to cover basic expenses. The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is offered to individuals who complete a term of service and can be used to pay for a range of educational expenses, like repaying qualified student loans or future tuition payments. Members can earn up to two full Education Awards with multiple service terms. Individuals in approved AmeriCorps positions are eligible for forbearance for most federally guaranteed student loans and individual health insurance. In addition, interest payments that accrue during service may be eligible for repayment by AmeriCorps.

An AmeriCorps of service provides members a jump-start to their career while gaining transferable skills employers value including leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving. Once a member’s term of service is complete, they can leverage the Employers of National Service network, which connects them with hundreds of employers from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors who are committed to hiring alumni. AmeriCorps alumni receive access to special benefits and resources. For example, many colleges and universities match the Education Award and offer additional AmeriCorps scholarships.

AmeriCorps is a way for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to dedicate their time and skills to get things done. So, how does AmeriCorps get things done? Approximately 75,000 Americans across the country join AmeriCorps programs each year and all of them are tackling different problems in different ways.
Locally, across an 8-county region in NW PA, Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps partners with various schools and other educational programs providing them the hands to implement one-on-one and small group interventions for Pre-K – 12th graders in hopes to increase academic engagement through increased attendance, class participation, reading and math scores.

AmeriCorps members serving in local school districts provide focused academic assistance, one-on-one/small group instruction, RTI Model, Credit Recovery, Title 1 remediation and support, Standardized Test Preparation, STEM activities, and progress monitoring. Services take place in before, during, and after-school programming in a public or private school setting. Members serving in Non-Profits provide academic support services, mentoring, STEM activities, and service-learning in alternative education, early childhood, and/or after-school programs.

While members are serving students, they are increasing their own skill sets through full-time hands-on experience, professional development opportunities, and mentor-ship from teachers and staff.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps Program can visit their website at www.smilesamericorps.org or view the list of open AmeriCorps positions at https://keystonesmiles.bamboohr.com/hiring/jobs.

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