The 2023 AmeriCorps Texas Grantee Meeting featured the theme of RE:engage, a “subject line” that regards the need for engagement in its many forms. How can we inspire and support our current, future, and past AmeriCorps members? How do we keep service site partners and communities we serve interested and involved in our work? The theme also doubled as a call to renew our enthusiasm for the impact of national service and take bold action as we move forward together.
This year, our AmeriCorps Texas Grantee Meeting was integrated with the Texas Nonprofit Summit, our annual statewide conference for Texas nonprofit changemakers, which offered AmeriCorps grantees extended opportunities for growth and networking.
Here are a few memorable highlights from this year’s AmeriCorps Texas Grantee Meeting:
- Coming together in-person. After three years of online events, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to bring all our grantees together to participate in community live and in-person. While we have remained engaged virtually, nothing beats holding space together in the same setting. Being in-person allowed the AmeriCorps Texas team and grantees to meet new folks, reconnect with long-time colleagues, and strengthen current relationships. The Ready, Set, Connect networking activity provided attendees with time to discuss challenges and best practices with new and old colleagues. It is through this relationship-building and sharing of best practices that we can all grow AmeriCorps in Texas.
- Strategizing creative ways to recruit and retain members. Through a robust lunch and learn discussion with CitySquare and Serve Houston, grantees heard about recruitment challenges and best practices to address them. Three of our Workforce Development Planning grantees — American YouthWorks, Communities In Schools of San Antonio, and Reading Partners — shared career pathways they are seeking to develop for their members. Some of these strategies include member/mentor matching and coordination with employers to offering certifications and graduate school admissions support. Additionally, Mission Capital provided grantees with information on ethical data collection and strategies for how to share data stories through an equitable lens which could help support recruitment efforts.
- Supporting sites through a holistic approach. It is through supportive sites that AmeriCorps members grow and thrive. Communities In Schools of Central Texas shared how incorporating member and site supervisor input and feedback sessions informed and improved their program model by making it more strengths-based and community-centered. Grantees learned about how Sewa practices cultural humility with their community by learning more about their cultures and using that information to inform how they do outreach and build productive service environments. Amy Salinas from On3Learn presented on the four dimensions of success and provided attendees with tools and strategies for successful multi-site management.