Panhandle Disaster Relief Fund

Donate now to support the families and communities affected by the Panhandle and South Plains wildfires in February 2024. The Panhandle Disaster Relief Fund is administered locally by Amarillo Area Foundation.

Developing workforce pathways for AmeriCorps members

AmeriCorps member in blue shirt on a video conference call

AmeriCorps members make an extraordinary impact meeting the needs of Texas communities, and OneStar is committed to investing in the development of workforce pathways for these dedicated individuals to expand the impact of their term of service.

We are pleased to announce OneStar has awarded $1 million in AmeriCorps funds to 15 organizations to develop more opportunities to support these committed AmeriCorps members in leveraging their service experience into employment opportunities, equipping them to continue making a difference after their service ends. Selected programs will create program models that focus on the service-to-career pipeline, including:

  • designing and developing training opportunities,
  • developing community and employer partnership,
  • creating data tracking systems, and
  • developing certificate or training programs.

Funding was prioritized for program development that would engage opportunity youth and would create pathways to employment through a term of service for AmeriCorps members that are 17-25 years old whose race and income reflect the communities served.

All 15 organizations that have received this funding will be participating in a monthly learning collaborative to share ideas, best practices, and lessons learned. These learnings will then be shared more broadly within the AmeriCorps Texas network. The learning collaborative is made possible with the support of the National Philanthropic Trust as recommended by the Schultz Family Foundation.

The $1 million in funding, administered by OneStar, will be distributed to the following organizations operating in Texas. Click to learn more about each program’s workforce development initiatives!

AmeriCorps Texas Workforce Development Initiatives

American YouthWorks (AYW) is working to create an AmeriCorps service year experience that effectively blends service and training to create meaningful career pathways for our AmeriCorps members. AYW will work with local employers to identify and implement industry-recognized occupational certifications that both enhance employability and can be integrated into an AmeriCorps Training Plan. By strengthening AmeriCorps as a pathway to careers, AYW will have developed a powerful tool for marketing AmeriCorps to recent and soon-to-be high school graduates. From there, AYW will develop and implement a multi-level engagement strategy with local high schools. Together these two strategies will help AmeriCorps service fulfill its potential to impact local communities both through service and workforce development.

Austin Achieve Public Schools (AAPS) will create two pipeline programs during the upcoming year: one for teachers and one for education administrators. AmeriCorps members who are interested in teaching as a career will have an opportunity to earn their teaching certification during their second year of service through a partnership with a local provider. Similarly, we will develop a pipeline for those wishing to enter school administration careers following their service.

Breakthrough will be developing a variety of support initiatives to set-up year-round full-time members and quarter-time members for the next step after service. A key strategy will be to investigate options for providing a path toward a professional credential such as alternative teaching certification, nonprofit certification, or other transferable and marketable micro-credentials. Breakthrough will also focus on partnership development with colleges, corporations, and community organizations to support the skill development of members and placements in careers.

ChildFund International’s Workforce Development funding will support the mapping and mobilization of key stakeholders to contribute towards the design of ChildFund’s AmeriCorps Workforce Development “service to career” suite of skills-building, training and other activities. Stakeholders include: 1) Local employers to identify most desired and gaps in workforce skills/competencies (i.e. life skills, digital skills, technical, etc.) among current pool of young employees; 2) A Youth Reference Group of representative youth currently seeking or part of the workforce to develop audio/visual materials highlighting their own and peers’ workforce development perspectives, challenges/needs and interests. Based on input from key stakeholders, ChildFund International will develop and organize suite of resources to support AmeriCorps members exploration of “service to career” pathways and secure a living wage, including:  1) Online career resources and training courses with certification for completion; 2) a database of and “badge” recognizing ‘Youth Friendly Employers’ and 3) Training of Trainers for ChildFund Texas AmeriCorps staff who will implement these workforce development initiatives among AmeriCorps members in the coming years. 

Core to College Possible’s objectives will be the hiring of a Corporate Engagement Manager to serve as a liaison between members and the local business community and create visibility for our members in the Austin job market. Additionally, College Possible intends to create a customizable training program using existing and new systems that identify weaknesses in the member’s hiring profile as well as future career interests and tailor a program of skill-building training to their individual needs. We intend for this to improve members’ post-service career opportunities, as well as be a powerful recruitment tool.

Communities In Schools (CIS) of Central Texas will buildout Next Step, an eight-week service and post-secondary readiness program delivered during June and July beginning in 2023. Next Step will engage recently graduated CIS students as AmeriCorps Members in a service opportunity that is designed to provide both on-the-job training through summer program support and individualized coaching to develop employability skills connected to their post-secondary goal. The workforce development funds will be used to support CIS staff capacity to create this program and to build additional capacity by engaging consultants to design participatory feedback and evaluation activities for the target audience that will directly inform curriculum development and support strategies for program implementation.

Communities In Schools of San Antonio’s (CISSA) AmeriCorps program will develop the next generation of representative and culturally sensitive social services professionals by providing participants with hands-on experience in providing case-management and wraparound support services in the school environment. The COVID-19 crisis has compounded the need for well-qualified social services professionals with the knowledge, skills, and commitment to meet the needs of vulnerable students and families impacted by the long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. CIS-SA will hire a consultant to create a model for individualized professional development pathways where members create a unique professional development plan based on their individual goals with guidance from their Site Supervisor. CISSA will create a network of support and resources for members to prepare to the next step in their career after their service ends.

Imagine Art is offering a workforce development track that is designed to strengthen and prepare AmeriCorps Members for post service employment opportunities. Imagine Art recognizes the need to provide specialized career and workforce development to its AmeriCorps members to ensure a successful career transition after AmeriCorps. These new services will support the member’s basic needs around career planning and execution, career exploration, structured job training, career advising, employment services and access to employer networks.

Reading Partners will develop and launch the RPNTX AmeriCorps Career Pathways program.  In our newly designed program, AmeriCorps members will select one of five offered career pathways at the beginning of their term. Each pathway experience will include courses and professional development activities taught by experts and professionals in fields related to their chosen pathway. In addition to specific pathway work, all AmeriCorps members will take part in resume building, interview and networking practice, and time with an assigned mentor.

Sewa Houston AmeriCorps Program will originate a bold blueprint to foster prosperity for individuals and their communities by providing training, professional and personal development opportunities, and access to employment resources that will maximize success along their career pathway. Sewa will create a workforce development initiative that supports AmeriCorps members in gaining employment upon completion of their service terms by training in a mix of soft and hard skills, using a holistic approach that helps members to interface professionally and enhance eventual on-the-job productivity. Our program will take a long view that focuses on what members need to know in the future to maximize their personal and professional growth and their long-term contributions to their communities.

Teach For America – Texas proposes to launch a statewide career services program, available to existing and recently exited AmeriCorps members in Texas, regardless of their prior service location; this statewide career services program will be coordinated through the Austin regional team, with support from our regional teams in Houston, Dallas – Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and the national Teach For America alumni team.  First, through this initiative, Teach for America (TFA) would focus on creating systems and guidelines to clearly define the talent matching work, sharing statewide opportunities, and connecting with alumni across regions.  Second, TFA would develop a deeper understanding of where TFA alumni are currently working across the state and identify all organizations across the state that meet the needs of TFA alumni and fall within a catalytic career pathway – school/system leadership, policy, social innovation, and community/civic leadership.

Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) will research and scale best practices to bolster the current TNOYS AmeriCorps Program, a service opportunity specifically designed for Youth and Young Adults (YYA) with lived experiences of system involvement in foster care, homelessness, juvenile justice, and others. Specifically, TNOYS will be exploring options for a certification or credential for work-based learning in the youth services field to ensure TNOYS AmeriCorps members are competitive job candidates. Additionally, TNOYS will research and develop best practices and training on employing YYA with lived experiences and reconnecting Opportunity Youth to work to bolster the youth services field. Finally, TNOYS will leverage their relationship with employers and develop and design a job fair for TNOYS AmeriCorps members so that they gain employment after their term of service ends. 

Texas HIPPYCorps will further establish mechanisms leading to members’ successful transition to the workforce following service. In the first phase of a three-phase approach, Texas HIPPYCorps’ efforts begin with gathering information from former HIPPY members about what supported their transitions to employment, what benefits they gained from their service, what skills they developed, what barriers they faced, and how their experiences impacted their career trajectories and transition to the workforce. This information creates the foundation for developing evidence-based training modules and skill-building activities supporting current and future members’ successful workforce transition and ameliorating barriers identified by former members. The final phase focuses on creating a formal tracking system to trace current and future members’ post-service workforce and education related activities. 

The University of Texas Charles A. Dana Center Literacy First Program will use the planning grant funds to strengthen the AmeriCorps program serving in Austin/Central Texas with a focus on the Bilingual Teacher Certification pipeline and other workforce development pipelines attractive to the non-traditional AmeriCorps member (High School Graduate/Associate Degreed Adults). Literacy First staff will evaluate recruitment practices, design responsive workforce development training specific to the bilingual community, explore additional supports for Adult English learners (as well as Spanish learners) and prepare for piloting workforce development trainings as a result of these activities. The objectives and priorities of this project will be to focus on a more diverse population as AmeriCorps tutors for the Literacy First program including non-traditional AmeriCorps members from the parent community, as well as those finishing high school and early college (Associates Degreed individuals).

As part of this planning grant, West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) proposes to develop a training and certificate program that will focus on the development of skills the panhandle’s regional employers are looking for in current and future employees. These skills will improve the overall employability, economic mobility, and economic stability of members serving with our program. Working with local employers, the University’s Continuing Education Department and Career Services, our local workforce development board, a consulting firm, and other relevant groups WTAMU will build a program for professional development. Partnering with local employers and our region’s Workforce Solutions, we will create a professional network and career pipeline for members that connect them to living wage employment opportunities. Upon completion of their term of service, members will not only be prepared for the workforce, but employers will know members possess the skills they are looking for and recognize them as highly qualified candidates