Today, we’re joining the nationwide #ServiceShoutout celebrating the invaluable role that national service has played in COVID-19 recovery. Texas communities are stronger and more resilient because of their commitment and dedication.
With 17,900 national service members serving across the state, there are countless examples of how AmeriCorps is making a difference across our state. Here is a look at nine AmeriCorps programs and how they have adapted this year in response to our communities’ pressing needs.
- ChildFund International AmeriCorps members have helped children and families throughout Texas protect themselves from COVID-19 and supported students’ social emotional learning through virtual lesson plans, video presentations, and curbside activities. Members conducted home visits and check-in calls with families, provided tips on helping children manage stress and stay safe, gave encouragement, and provided a listening ear. Here’s an example of one fun virtual activity that members used to keep students safe and engaged!
- College Advising Corps has diligently supported students across Texas navigating the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, ensuring they do not lose valuable post-secondary opportunities. AmeriCorps members continued offering advising services by pivoting to teleservice. For example, AmeriCorps members utilized SMS texting capabilities as an outreach method; at The University of Texas at Austin, advisers collectively texted more than 1,000 students to continue distributing important college-going information. Check out our in-depth profile of the College Advising Corps response here!
- Communities In Schools of San Antonio was a lifeline for thousands of kids affected by COVID-19 and the economic fallout. AmeriCorps members supported student engagement in virtual learning by doing porch visits, providing technology, and offering enrichment groups over Zoom. But beyond academic support, members also served more than 250 hours at weekly mobile food pantries, rotating between 18 schools to meet the urgent need for food assistance. Check out how Communities In Schools used their unique case management model and community connections to address the unprecedented needs of their students.
- Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas has been delivering virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic that is exceeding expectations of parents and teachers. AmeriCorps members have conducted online workshops for 3,000 girls—from a six-week virtual Camp Out of the Box experience to the Okay to Say mental health education program. Girl Scouts collaborates with local school districts to ensure students continue to build social/emotional skills, participate in hands-on STEM activities, and develop mental health awareness during the COVID-19 shutdown. Check out how Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas helped kids learn science—even without the Internet.
- Imagine Art in Austin provided support to their client base of artists with disabilities by pivoting to online platforms and developing extensive safety protocols during the pandemic. AmeriCorps members explored creative exhibition opportunities for local artists via digital galleries and outdoor venues throughout the community, and they delivered food, personal protective equipment, and art supplies to clients upon request. Here’s a peek at their latest exhibition, curated and installed by AmeriCorps members!
- Legacy Community Health has been working diligently to meet the needs of their patients and the Houston community. AmeriCorps members assist patients with their social determinants of health to ensure they have access to COVID-19 resources and have supported contact tracing, various food distributions, and Legacy Community Health’s baby shower parade for expecting moms. Check out our in-depth profile of the Legacy Community Health response here!
- Literacy First in Austin recognized how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated long-standing disparities in access to a quality early education: their students were at greater risk of learning loss and needed additional early literacy support. AmeriCorps members were trained to effectively support and monitor student progress via Zoom and have provided hundreds of students with daily, one-to-one virtual tutoring. In addition to their tutoring responsibilities, Literacy First AmeriCorps members have also served the Central Texas community during the pandemic as COVID-19 contact tracers, food bank volunteers, elder support volunteers, virtual summer school support, and more.
- Project Transformation North Texas continued to engage students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with their PT@Home virtual video series, featuring literacy, STEM, art, social-emotional learning, and other supply-light educational activities that kids could join remotely. In addition, AmeriCorps members helped deliver more than 47,000 meals across nine sites in the north Texas area and hosted drive-through food and supply distribution with toys, cleaning supplies, and meal kits. After months of hosting after-school homework help, literacy assessments, and family fun nights over Zoom, this AmeriCorps program is supporting local public and charter schools as they reopen with in-person programming using extensive safety protocols.
- Reading Partners North Texas kept summer reading alive through the pandemic by engaging AmeriCorps members to distribute reading materials to 540 students during summer 2020. The program adapted its literacy curriculum for a virtual environment: they created Reading Partners Connects, a one-on-one online tutoring platform, and offer a free digital library for students and families. Here’s a look at a day in the life of an AmeriCorps distance tutoring coordinator.