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AmeriCorps is a Beneficial, but Neglected Program That Can Help You, and You Probably Didn’t Know About it [Opinion]

Semper-Neglectus (Always Neglected)


Credit to Kamryn Bell

Senior Mariam Hamdan poses with an A+ shirt on. The A+ program is offered to juniors and seniors for an oppurtunity to get two years of community college free. Hamdan worked over the summer at Becky David middle school to get for the program.

By Connor Peper

(Source: and The Missouri Department of Higher Education)

Students should be exposed to as many opportunities as possible that’ll help them after high school, and one of the best options for everyone is AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is a national program where patriotic Americans work for their country by helping with areas impacted by disasters, tutoring kids and being a help to their communities in return for educational opportunities, not unlike Missouri’s A+ Program. It’s unlike the Peace Corps since it operates exclusively in the U.S., there’s no hassle of health requirements and general unease of traveling to impoverished lands. With secondary education increasingly required for many jobs across the country, several questions remain: Where is it? Why is AmeriCorp neglected by our school despite it being a program just as good, if not better in some circumstances than the A+ program?

In September 1993, President Clinton passed the The National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. This act established AmeriCorps as a way to help seniors afford college and experience the adventure of traveling the nation while, at the same time, helping solve the issues facing the country. Apparently, the idea of improving your community was popular that year because a few months earlier Missouri created the A+ Program. Both A+ and AmeriCorps were established in the same year, providing similar benefits and can be joined in high school, you can even join AmeriCorps after graduation, yet the promotion and awareness for each program differ wildly.

In a way, it makes sense. Schools themselves have to pass several requirements to get A+ Certified, so they’d put more effort into creating awareness for a certification they tried hard for. That’s why the program has after-school meetings dedicated to it and papers available in the guidance office. Programs like AmeriCorps don’t require schools to meet any requirements, the only requirements are left on the individuals who wish to join. AmeriCorps VISTA may ask for prior college education for more experienced rolls. Some have no requirements beyond age. Unlike A+, there’s no incentive to promote widespread awareness for AmeriCorps beyond wanting to help students. This lack of any promotion hurts all students. It hurts those who wish to go to college and especially those who don’t. Why? AmeriCorps offers more opportunity for more types of people than A+.

Students aren’t ignoring AmeriCorps on purpose. It’s impossible to ignore something you didn’t know existed and those who knew of it, don’t know about it. This is due to widespread lack of awareness other programs don’t have. The people who are attracted to A+ would also be attracted to AmeriCorps and then some. For people who’re college bound, the Segal Education Award (AmeriCorps’ A+ Scholarship) is eligible for community colleges, universities and technical schools. It can even be transferred to some schools in Mexico and Canada. For those not going to college: AmeriCorps offers professional experience and will even pay for job training depending on your role. Some programs allow for a cash payment instead of the grant, but AmeriCorps is so much more than a means to pay for college. AmeriCorps allows participants to connect with new friends, tackle important issues and get a feel for a professional career.  Students who don’t know what to do after graduating need more options to help them find their calling and A+ isn’t able to do that alone.

AmeriCorps and A+ aren’t mutually exclusive, they’re not competing against each other. It is perfectly okay to graduate from high school, attempt to solve poverty for a year, then use your A+ Scholarship at a community college and then use your AmeriCorps grant at another school.

Students should be exposed to as many opportunities as possible that’ll help them after high school and the school does not get an A+, FHN should take more time to expose students to a variety of programs to help them achieve. AmeriCorps doesn’t need multiple after school meetings, or an entire position dedicated to it, but a flier or a pamphlet would be nice. Brooke Prestidge, the FHN College and Career Counselor, plans on making a Google Classroom for information about post-secondary options, so here’s hoping that’ll give AmeriCorps the attention it deserves.