City Year Celebrates Opening Day 2012!

City Year Seattle/King County corps member, Becka Gross, is serving with the JPMorgan Chase Diplomas Now team at Denny International Middle School. Below she recounts the power of City Year’s Opening Day.

On Friday, September 21, the 2012-13 City Year Seattle/King County corps ran through the doors of City Hall joining an audience of friends, family, board members, donors, and elected officials to officially kick off the start of full-time service in schools. City Year Executive Director, Simon Amiel, fired up the audience and corps, leading them in a chant: “More kids, in school, and on track to succeed!”

City Year corps members, staff, elected officials, donors and community members came together to celebrate Opening Day.

City Year corps members, staff, elected officials, donors and community members came together to celebrate Opening Day.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn shared his support for City Year and the impact he believes our service has on the community. Comcast sponsor and City Year board member, Steve Holmes, also shared his gratitude for the incoming corps, stating that the work of City Year is “changing the forecast for a generation to one of hope.” Another highlight from the event’s program was Jessica Silye, a City Year alumna, who shared the stage with a former student she worked with, Sam Martin. Together they described how both of their lives were profoundly impacted by their experiences together and the work of City Year.

City Year alumna, Jessica Silye, and her former student, Sam Martin, talk about the experience they shared together through City Year.

City Year alumna, Jessica Silye, and her former student, Sam Martin, talk about the experience they shared together through City Year.

The keynote address came from corps member and recent graduate of Garfield High School, Mohamed Adan, who inspired the crowd with his life story and passion for service.  After fleeing chaos and violence in Somalia, Adan’s family sought refuge in Kenya and eventually was granted political asylum in the United States. Adan entered Seattle’s public school system at six years old and found in the years to follow that the new language and culture created great barriers against his academic success. While recalling teachers suggesting to his class that they ask their parents for homework help, Adan said with a grin, “my parents didn’t speak a lick of English and attempting to solicit their help on my homework would have resulted in blank stares or a whole lot of head scratching.” Though his teachers were supportive and dedicated, they did not have the resources to provide the individualized support necessary to foster each student.

City Year corps member, Mohamed Adan, shares his experience of growing up in Seattle and what inspired him to serve his community.

City Year corps member, Mohamed Adan, shares his experience of growing up in Seattle and what inspired him to serve his community.

Adan reminisced about the people in his life who believed in him, helped him overcome the setbacks he encountered, and ensured his success. People in his school and community “who dedicated themselves to education. Who believed in the potential of every student to succeed, and who worked hard in difficult situations and with limited resources because they knew the tremendous impact education could have upon their students.”

The community support, words of encouragement, and palpable enthusiasm of Adan reminded the corps, and each member of the audience, of the vital importance of the mission they are embarking upon. We can’t wait to see the impact that each of our 67 corps members makes this year!

*To see more photos from Opening Day, click here.

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Highland Park Elementary School Walks to School with Mayor McGinn

On a beautiful, crisp fall morning, City Year corps members serving at Highland Park Elementary School had the opportunity to walk to school with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. As part of International Walk to School Day, the Mayor kicked things off with a brief dedication of a newly installed crosswalk located on SW Holden Street. Just five blocks away from the school, this busy street has been difficult to cross in the past, but not any longer!

As Mayor McGinn addresses the crowd, corps members William and John provide a helpful hand.

As Mayor McGinn addresses the crowd, corps members William and John provide a helpful hand.

Community members joined the “walking school bus” as it made its way to Highland Park Elementary School, and cheers of support were extended from neighbors who
waived to the bus from front porches.

The Walking School Bus uses the new crosswalk while making its way to Highland Park Elementary School.

The Walking School Bus uses the new crosswalk while making its way to Highland Park Elementary School.

Upon reaching the school, the “walking school bus” was joined by additional students
and parents. Energy and excitement filled the air as students eagerly asked Mayor McGinn questions and proudly showed off their vibrant playground.

Alongside Mayor McGinn, corps member William engages with a Highland Park parent and student.

Alongside Mayor McGinn, corps member William engages with a Highland Park parent and student.

City Year corps members talked with parents and community members throughout the morning. City Year is proud to be part of the Highland Park community!

Dolphin Attendance: “Be Here Get There”

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At the recent launch of the “Be Here Get There” attendance campaign at Denny International Middle School,  Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced, “students with 20 or more absences a year have less than a 1 in 5 chance of graduating … Continue reading

City Year at City Hall? Meeting Mayor Mike McGinn

Mayor Mike McGinn and City Year Seattle corps members

On Saturday, January 29th, 13 City Year Seattle corps members volunteered at City Hall’s 2nd Annual Open House.  Hosted by Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle’s city government departments, the Open House was an opportunity for Mayor McGinn to highlight his plans for the Engage Seattle initiative and the Cities of Service Plan, both of which are programs designed to encourage more citizen voice and involvement within the city of Seattle. Corps members organized tours, spoke with representatives of different government departments, and passed out schedules to aid the city and to see firsthand how local government works.

Corps members also had the opportunity to meet with City Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Mike O’Brien, Jean Godden, Sally J. Clark, Tom Rasmussen, Bruce Harrell, and Tim Burgess, all of whom were encouraging and supportive of the hard work that City Year does in schools. When corps members Autum Martin and Melissa Jensen visited Councilmember Jean Godden’s office, the Councilmember introduced them to the other constituents who were gathered in her office:

These young people dedicate a year of their lives to helping our students in Seattle public schools. Can you imagine? Taking a year off from their other activities to help the kids who need it most.

After the councilmembers heard about City Year’s In School and On Track initiative, they asked about the role City Year will play in the 2011 Families & Education Levy which aims to help all Seattle children with their readiness for school, academic success and achievement, and graduation from high school.

Mariel Venhuizen, a City Year corps member, put it best by stating, “Personally, I think that a lot of our goals align with that of the levy because we’re in schools every day, working to ensure that the youth in Seattle have the resources they need to graduate. And because of our emphasis on collecting data, we can really see the positive benefits that City Year has upon students.”

At the end of the day, all City Year volunteers were given a tour of the mayor’s office and had the opportunity to meet Mayor McGinn. The mayor spoke of his appreciation for our work to keep Seattle students in school and on track towards graduation.

Venhuizen commented by stating, “Overall, I think it’s really neat that Mayor McGinn opened up City Hall for the public to visit. It gives Seattle residents a chance to interact with their local government. As a City Year corps member, I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Open House and learn how the mayor and city councilmembers view our work.”

Text by Sherry Tiao, City Year Seattle/King County External Relations Project Leader

Photos by Jen Nance