Friday, July 29, 2011

Americorps: a great sustainable option

We continue to promote Americorps as an excellent alternative to joining the military.  Americorps programs offer a living stipend, valuable service work and an educational award toward college, and most Americorps members work in teams which adds to good bonding and team-building experience.

Here is more about Americorps and some of the programs available in the Austin area:

After successfully completing a term of service, AmeriCorps members who are enrolled in the National Service Trust are eligible to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. You can use your education award to pay education costs at qualified institutions of higher education, for educational training, or to repay qualified student loans.

The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act made changes to the maximum amount of the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. The amount is now tied to the maximum amount of the U.S. Department of Education’s Pell Grant. For terms of service that are approved using 2009 funds (or earlier funds), the award continues to be $4,725.00 for a year of full-time service, and is pro-rated for part-time service based on the full-time amount.

For terms of service that are supported with 2010 funds, the award value increased to $5,350.00. For terms of service that are supported with 2011 funds, the award value increased to $5,550.00. You can make payments from your award in full or part, and can take up to seven years after your term of service has ended to use your award. To confirm the award amount for which you are eligible, call your program or project sponsor.
Benefits of AmeriCorps Service

As an AmeriCorps Member, you will receive a wealth of benefits. Perhaps the biggest benefit you will experience when you join AmeriCorps is the satisfaction of incorporating service into your life and making a difference in your community and your country.

Whether you are tutoring kids, building homes, clearing trails or helping to start a local health clinic you will see the direct results of your work.

But there is more. As an AmeriCorps member, you'll be eligible for a variety of benefits that make the dedication of a year of your life worthwhile.

You Will Be Able to Pay Your Bills

Many AmeriCorps members receive a modest living allowance. You will not get rich from it, but most AmeriCorps members have found that it covers their basic expenses.

Help with College Costs and Student Loans

Each AmeriCorps member who successfully completes a term of AmeriCorps service will receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award*. You can use your Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to pay educational expenses at qualified institutions of higher education, for educational training, or to repay qualified student loans. You have up to seven years after your term of service has ended to claim the award.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 created two new federal programs: a new Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and a new Income-Based Repayment plan (IBR) for the repayment of federal loans. The new Income-Based Repayment plan helps to make repaying education loans more affordable for low-income borrowers, such as an AmeriCorps member living on a stipend; AmeriCorps service is also recognized as equivalent to a public service job for the purposes of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Professional Development

As an AmeriCorps member, you will gain valuable experience that translates directly into job experience in your chosen field. You will learn teamwork, communication, responsibility, and other essential skills that will help you for the rest of your life Many find their AmeriCorps year to provide them with more experience and skills than they would have gotten in a traditional, paying job.

Opportunities with AmeriCorps Austin

Not sure what to do after graduation?

Looking for a part-time job you can feel great about?

Want to do your part to make Austin a truly great place to live?

Are you interested in local service opportunities with AmeriCorps? See below to read descriptions about local AmeriCorps projects, learn more about the opportunity to serve for one year, find information about the education award, living stipend, and benefits of becoming an AmeriCorps member. Full-time, part-time, and quarter-time positions are available.

AmeriCorps is an opportunity to make a big difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. It's a chance to apply your skills and ideals toward helping others and meeting critical needs in the community. Each year, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. Whether your service makes a community safer, gives a child a second chance, or helps protect the environment, you'll be getting things done through AmeriCorps!

Check out the program descriptions below for the AmeriCorps*State programs in Austin.
Austin AmeriCorps*State Programs

ACE: A Community for Education (Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin

ACE is an early literacy intervention program that works to ensure all children build a strong foundation in reading during their first years in school. ACEE members tutor young children (pre-k through first grade) in reading, teach ESL classes, conduct parent literacy workshops and literacy based Family Fun Nights, and co-chair the Día de los niños/Día de los libros bilingual family literacy day. Members receive extensive initial and ongoing weekly training from literacy specialists. Our goal is that half of our members are proficient in Spanish, but this is not a requirement to apply. Full-time and part-time positions are available for September through May or June. Visit ACE's website for more information.

American Youthworks: American YouthWorks Environmental Corps

Members of E-Corps build parks, maintain trails and do environmental projects, often spending weeks camped out in back country areas across the state. Full- and part-time positions; start dates in January or June. Visit the website for more information.

ASSET*AmeriCorps - Active Service Solutions for Economic Transition

ASSET, an AmeriCorps program of Easter Seals Central Texas, addresses the money management, housing, and assistive technology needs of people with disabilities who are experiencing various transitions. Statewide ASSET*AmeriCorps members, better known as ASSET Navigators, assist individuals with disabilities in flexible one-to-one, small-group, or class-like settings to work toward their independence goals. Want to learn more about the Navigator experience? Visit the website at or contact their staff at

College Forward

Members of the College Forward AmeriCorps program provide free college preparatory and retention services to high school juniors and seniors, facilitating their application and matriculation to college. The program promotes academic achievement, student retention, career exploration, and service-learning opportunities. Full- and part-time positions available. Contact: or 512-452-4800.

Communities in Schools of Central Texas

Members of Communities In Schools of Central Texas AmeriCorps mentor and tutor public school students in grades 3-8 who are at risk of dropping out. Members receive extensive pre-service and ongoing training to empower them to be excellent tutors, supportive mentors, and leaders of service-learning projects. Full- and part-time positions available for September-July. Contact or 512-464-9733, or apply on the CIS of CT website.

Go Centers—College for All Texans

Go Centers College for All Texans AmeriCorps members serve in high school college and career centers, known GO Centers, to encourage higher education after graduation and provide a college-going culture among students, parents, and the community. Our members work with students individually and/or in small groups to provide mentoring, college admission, financial aid assistance, test preparation, and career exploration for students in 9th-12th grade. Contact Claudette Jenks at 512-427-6529 or email, or visit the website for additional information.

Goodwill Industries of Central Texas

Members of the Goodwill Industries of Central Texas AmeriCorps Program focus on Youth Development, Financial Literacy, Employer Development, and Volunteer Management. The individuals provide direct service to participants in Goodwill's various programs and recruit volunteers to further Goodwill's mission. Full- and part-time positions are available. Email for more information, or please fax resume and Goodwill application to 512-480-5948. Please write "Americorps Member" as the position you are seeking on the application.

Travis County 4-H CAPITAL AmeriCorps: 4-H CAPITAL

Through hands-on scientific learning experiences, 4H CAPITAL provides quality science and outdoor education to underserved Austin youth in a variety of out-of-school environments, after-school clubs, and camps. 4-H programs promote leadership, citizenship, scientific literacy, health, life skills, and academic development. AmeriCorps Program year is mid-August through end of May/June. Full and part-time positions available. Visit, or email to request an application.

AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America)

Full-time positions only. Help nonprofits that serve low-income communities to build capacity and work toward long-term sustainability. The primary difference between VISTA and AmeriCorps*State programs are that VISTA is only full time, and VISTA members do not do direct service with clients, but work for agencies to build their capacity to serve (i.e., volunteer management, fund development, PR/Marketing, etc. Openings are available in a wide range of agencies in Central Texas. See for more information.

For more information about AmeriCorps opportunities in the state of Texas see

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The few, the proud, the power line electricians

Nice article in today's Austin American-Statesman about the kinds of jobs that are in demand in the Austin area, and there are many.  Featured is the profession of working on electrical power lines, which pays well, and there is a training program at ACC for this work.  As the article notes:

The graying of the work force and the greening of the industry are opening up new opportunities. 
"You can't have a smart grid without a smart line worker," said Ray Cook, an Austin Energy trainer and an ACC climbing instructor.
Few people with the aptitude to work with electricity can also climb a utility pole with 40 or 50 pounds of equipment.  Even fewer want to do it in extreme weather.
"It's a very select club," Cook said.
He said there are only about 110,000 line workers nation-wide, and shortages in the industry are prompting signing bonuses as utilities compete for workers.
[David] Weaver, 28 of Austin jumped at the chance to join the field.  He was studying renewable energy at ACC when the college started its line worker program.
He thought it had everything he wanted in a job:  Making good money while working outdoors with his hands.