Wednesday, June 20, 2018

National Service Alumni Career & Resource Fair - June 23rd, 2018

Employers and other Resources

City Year

City Year is an education-focused non-profit dedicated to reducing the high school dropout rate in 28 cities around the US. City Year brings together 18-25 year olds from diverse backgrounds to be AmeriCorps members in under-resourced schools, serving as tutors, mentors, and role models to students at risk of dropping out. In addition to whole classroom and individual student support, City Year AmeriCorps members run after-school programs, family engagement events, and positive school climate initiatives. Throughout the year, they receive leadership and professional development, earn the Segal Education award, and become eligible for over $3M in undergraduate and graduate school scholarships.

Department of Children and Family Services

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is the state agency charged with safeguarding the welfare of Illinois children. DCFS is a large, nationally recognized and respected child welfare agency.

Heartland Alliance

Heartland Alliance—the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest— believes that all of us deserve the opportunity to improve our lives. Each year, we help ensure this opportunity for nearly one million people around the world who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Our multicultural staff are passionate about our mission and make Heartland Alliance a dynamic and exciting place to develop your career.


Every student deserves a champion, and every college graduate can be one with iMentor.

In a city where opportunity is not equally distributed in all communities, iMentor ( is fighting to rebalance the odds and give CPS high school students a fair chance to realize their dreams. We partner with public high schools and match full grades of students with college-educated mentors who become their champions.

Over the last three years, iMentor has matched over 600 juniors with mentors. The AmeriCorps community has been a significant part of that number, with nearly 20 AmeriCorps employees, leaders and alumni serving as mentors to iMentor students across the city. In this upcoming school year, iMentor will be matching 600 more juniors with mentors. Will you join the AmeriCorps + iMentor community?

Mentors commit to a three-year relationship, exchanging one online communication with their mentee each week and attending one group event each month. iMentor provides a proven curriculum and expert staff to ensure pairs are successful. Hear directly from mentors and students in this short video - . We are currently recruiting for mentors to be paired in fall of 2018.

It’s easy to get started: just fill out the online application -  or register for an orientation - . Email Cicely Tatum-Johnson at with questions.

K.L.E.O. Center

K.L.E.O. Community Life Center (formerly The KLEO Barrett Angel Foundation) is a non-profit corporation founded in 2007 by Executive Director Pastor Torrey L. Barrett in honor of his sister, Kleo Yolaughn Barrett, the youngest daughter of Pastor and Mrs. T.L. Barrett. Jr. who was tragically killed by an ex-boyfriend at the young age of 27. In honor of Kleo Y. Barrett, the foundation was established to help eradicate domestic violence with an encouraging message to Keep Loving Each Other (K.L.E.O.).

K.L.E.O.’s initial goals were to assist women and children affected by acts of domestic violence by improving their socio-economic status, self-esteem, and quality of life through community-based sustainability programs. K.L.E.O’s Mission has expanded to providing service for families in these key areas; education, public safety, health and human services and economic development.

Noble Charter Schools

Noble is the largest and highest-performing charter network in Chicago. We are comprised of 17 high schools and 1 middle school serving over 12,000 students who are predominantly students of color and first generation college students from low-income areas of the city.

At Noble, we believe that all students are capable of graduating from college, and it is our job to ensure that all of our graduates are academically and socially prepared to do so. So far, 98% of our graduates have been accepted to at least one 4-year college, with the class of 2018 earning an average of more than 6 college acceptances per student. Finally, 90% of Noble graduates enroll in college immediately after graduating from our schools.

North Park University

North Park University offers professionals graduate degree programs in business, education, music, nonprofit management, and nursing. Our graduate programs are flexible, affordable and convenient, with many evening and online options. In addition to an expert faculty, we draw on Chicago itself to bring relevant professionals, educators, musicians, executive directors, nurses, and business leaders into our classrooms. North Park graduate classes are small. You’ll connect with your professors and fellow students, building valuable relationships while you continue your journey toward a life of significance and service.

Northwestern University - Center for Talent Development

At Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development (CTD), we believe the best educators don’t just teach; they inspire young people to think big, take risks and believe in themselves. These are the educators and support staff that gifted students need; these are the staff we hire. Join us, and experience the rewards of working within a vibrant learning community while inspiring open and eager young minds. CTD has frequent staff and instructor openings throughout the year: instructors and teaching assistants for academic year programming on the weekends as well as during the summer; residential staff openings are for summer-only internships.

One Hope United

One Hope United’s purpose has been to care for children and to ensure they grow up in safe, loving environments. Today OHU’s team of over 700 talented professionals serves thousands of children and families each year in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida.  One Hope United increases opportunities for children and families by providing quality solutions that enhance lives, communities and futures.

Public Allies

SAGA Fellows

SAGA Innovations is dedicated to transforming American public education. SAGA drives the expansion of the nationally recognized innovation of high-dosage, intensive daily tutoring, where tutoring is a part of the regular school day for students as a scheduled class period. We partner with district public schools to provide students the opportunity to work with a qualified, engaging tutor who tailors instruction to the needs of two students at a time.

The SAGA Innovations program is a full time, in-school professional paid math tutoring opportunity. We are dedicated to transforming American public education. We are currently seeking passionate, dedicated individuals to apply to this position and commit to completing one academic school year. 

The ideal tutor is open-minded, patient, excited about education reform, seeking a gap year before attending a 4 year university, organized, a self-starter, a team player, is comfortable working with adolescent students, and should have effective communication skills. This role requires hard work, creativity, and a dedication to helping students beat the odds, achieve academic success, and build strong relationships.

SOS Children's Villages of IL

SOS Children's Villages Illinois is a nonprofit child welfare agency that serves Illinois'​ most vulnerable children and families. The model of care employed by SOS Children’s Villages Illinois is part of a 67-year international tradition utilized by over 550 SOS Children’s Villages in 134 countries worldwide.  Our model differs from traditional foster care in emphasizing that children:

1. Live together with their siblings
2. Receive care and support from a full-time, professionally trained Foster Parent
3. Grow up in private, single-family homes
4. Benefit from the support of the Village, designed as an intentional community

Currently, SOS Children's Villages Illinois operates four sites: three Villages providing sibling group foster care at an 18-home Village (opened in 1993) in Lockport, Illinois; a 19-home Village (opened in 2004) in the Auburn Gresham/Englewood neighborhood of Chicago; a 14-home Village (opened 2014) in the Roosevelt Square Community of Chicago, as well as Casa Tepeyac (acquired in 2011), a facility that offers preventative and in-home services in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago.

SOS Children’s Villages Illinois celebrates a 100% high school graduation rate, compared to a national average of 50% for children in foster care.  Additionally, in November 2015, Chicago Magazine named SOS Children’s Villages Illinois one of  twenty “Best Charities in Chicago.”

The Salvation Army


Named a Chicago Tribune Top Workplace and a 10-time winner of Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, Thresholds follows our employee’s example of excellence by going above and beyond. Thresholds employees are real-life superheroes. Each staff member contributes to providing life-saving mental health services with heart and an unparalleled focus on recovery through innovative, evidence-based practices.

Tutoring Chicago

Tutoring Chicago is a private, nonprofit organization that provides free, weekly tutoring to students in grades 1-6. All of the students are from economically disadvantaged families. All of the tutors are adult volunteers who meet with their students once a week during the school year. In 2017-2018, Tutoring Chicago served 700 students with the help of over 750 volunteers.

YMCA of the USA

Imagine going to work knowing that what you do each day positively affects the lives of the people in your community. Working at the Y, you'll discover more than a job—you’ll enjoy a career with a future and the opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of those around you. In more than 10,000 communities nationwide, our staff members of all ages and from diverse backgrounds and life experiences enjoy the personal satisfaction that comes from nurturing the potential of youth and teens, improving the nation's health and well-being and providing support to our neighbors.

Career Coaching & Resume Review

Kate Solis Silva, Career and Personal Development Coach
Kate Solis Silva brings a decade of both corporate and nonprofit experience to her Career and Personal Development Coaching. Focused on providing holistic strategies for mission-driven professionals and those seeking to transition into more meaningful work, She empowers her clients to know themselves to know their best careers.

Kate is an iPEC certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, a member of the International Coach Federation and the National Career Development Association, and an active Volunteer Coach with the Career Transition Center of Chicago. A strong advocate for Mentorship, she has co-chaired the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago’s Mentorship Committee for the past two years.

In addition to being a life-long volunteer, Kate’s professional nonprofit background includes internships at the Cascade AIDS Project and the Michigan Region Red Cross. She is a LISC AmeriCorps Alumni, serving in Southwest Detroit with Urban Neighborhood Initiatives from 2011-2012.

In Chicago, Kate was employed with Chicago Lights from 2013-18, most recently serving as the organization’s Associate Director of Development.  She has served as an Advisory Board Member for the Chicago Charity Challenge and a volunteer with Upwardly Global.  Kate is a Chicago Women in Philanthropy member and received the Judith O’Connor Memorial Scholarship to attend the BoardSource National Conference in last fall.

Ace Your Next Interview - 12-1pm (limited space available)

Facilitated by Melissa Frazin, Career Advisor/Assistant Director for Career Development & Engagement at University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC)

Interviews are a necessary component of almost any job search, though applicants do not always know how to prepare themselves for interview success. Attend this interactive workshop where we will discuss the steps you can take before, during and after interviews to impress future employers.  The workshop will also cover how to specifically talk about experiences and skills gained through AmeriCorps service during interviews with employers.

Monday, June 18, 2018

June 23rd Panelists

June 23rd National Service Alums Career & Resource Fair


Bobbie Zerfas - Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Bobbie Rose Zerfas, LCSW, is currently the Program Director for Thresholds in Lake County. She is a RPCV from Jordan 2007-2009 where she served as an English teacher in a girls’ government school in a small village in the northern part of the country. She also worked on various youth projects focusing on leadership and English language skills for young woman. Following her service she received her MSW from New York University. She has worked for Thresholds for the past 5 years, starting as an ACT Vocational Specialist, then a Team Leader, and now as a Program Director. 

Jaron Newton, AmeriCorps*VISTA

Jaron graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Geography. After undergrad, he worked in logistics as a Department of Defense contractor. Hoping to change career paths, he moved to New Hamphire for an AmeriCorps VISTA position with FIRST Robotics. Since AmeriCorps, Jaron has spent the past 6 years working for Cradles to Crayons, starting in Boston and then moving to Chicago where he is now the Associate Director of Operations. He is also currently enrolled in an evening Master's program with the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Phil Masters

Phil currently serves as a Program Manager for Spark in Chicago, a career exploration and self-discovery nonprofit for middle school students. Phil’s roots in Chicago’s education sector began as a math tutoring fellow at Kelvyn Park High School where he learned both how students experience and navigate the Chicago Public School system, and how organizations strategize to serve vulnerable populations. He sits on the professional board of The Bloc -an incredible non profit boxing club that partners with students on the West side- and is the Membership Operations Co-Chair of YNPN Chicago. Phil earned his B.A. in Sociology from SUNY Geneseo, and hails from frigid Buffalo, NY.

Melissa Frazin - AmeriCorps Alums NCCC

Melissa “Missy” Frazin is an Assistant Director of Career Development & Engagement at UIC’s Office of Career Services. She supports UIC students with all aspects of career development including exploring possible career options, creating and reviewing resumes/cover letters, preparing for interviews, searching for internships/jobs and applying to graduate/professional school. She is a dynamic and energetic higher education professional with 14+ years of experience mentoring and advising 1,000+ young adults, many of whom are from diverse ethnic, cultural, religious and racial backgrounds.  Prior to working at UIC, she managed Jumpstart, a team-based, work-study/AmeriCorps program, at DePaul University, overseeing 50+ college students providing support to 200+ preschoolers per year in Chicago.  She is a proud AmeriCorps alumna having served 2 terms of service with AmeriCorps NCCC where she was based at the Charleston, SC campus.  Missy holds a B.A. in Communication from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and 2 graduate degrees, M.Ed. in Counseling & an M.A in Elementary Education, from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tamara Jordan

We continue to share stories of the work our 2016 AmeriCorps Alums award winners have done and continue to do in their communities. 

Our annual National Service Alums awards honor and celebrate people from all national service programs, including AmeriCorps State and National programs, AmeriCorps VISTA programs, National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), and SeniorCorps. Each year, we take your submissions and award winners who are then honored at the Serve Illinois Opening Day program in our state capital, Springfield, IL.

This interview is with AmeriCorps Alums Tamara Jordan.

1. Why did you choose to serve?  Tell me more about the program you were with and your year of service.
I heard about AmeriCorps through a friend. I choose to serve because I was able to work with veterans, a group that care about so much mainly because I am a veteran and I realize the needs of the community.

2.  What are you doing now?
I currently serve as Senator Durbin’s Veteran/Military liaison for the Chicago office. I also handle issues that fall under the Department of Education, Housing and certain immigration issues. I am the middle man between the constituent and the federal agency.

3.  How has your service experience changed your worldview?
My service has made me appreciate the world a lot more and be grateful for what I have. I worked with an underserved population and it made it easy to put my blessings in perspective.

4.  Out of all your experiences with AmeriCorps, what was your proudest moment?
Running the food pantry at the VA and being able to serve hundreds of veterans every week.

5.  What is an invaluable lesson you learned in your service?
Be thankful for what you have because you never know when you can lose it all. I have learned to be humble and treat others with respect because I would want the same. I have learned that helping others is one of the most invaluable feelings in the world.

6.  What is one thing you wish more people knew about AmeriCorps or the program you served with?

AmeriCorps is a great way to transition between college and work. Although the pay is very difficult to live off of, it is a wonderful way to learn about adapting in the work place. AmeriCorps members are also highly respected amongst the workplace because of the skill sets they bring to the table.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Bevin Callan, AmeriCorps Alum of NCCC

We continue to share stories of the work our 2016 AmeriCorps Alums award winners have done and continue to do in their communities.  
Our annual National Service Alums awards honor and celebrate one person from each major stream of national service, including AmeriCorps State and National programs, AmeriCorps VISTA programs, National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), and SeniorCorps programs. Each year, we take your submissions and choose one award winner from each program who are then honored at the Serve Illinois Opening Day program in our state capital, Springfield, IL.
This interview is with Bevin Callan, AmeriCorps Alum of NCCC.

Why did you choose to serve?
I chose to serve as I was finishing up my senior year of college. I knew I wanted to go to grad school, but wanted to take a year or two off first to give back. I was looking into the Peace Corps when a professor of mine told me about AmeriCorps and the opportunity to give back to my own country. 

I applied to a couple different programs and was accepted to the NCCC Southeast campus. This was in 2003 when the campus was still in Charleston, SC. My Corps Member year we had zero natural disasters, so my team focused on environmental projects. We were the only fire team at our campus that year and got to participate in a prescribed burn of 180 acres to restore a longleaf pine forest. In addition to three environmental projects, my team tutored at Mary Ford Elementary School, helping them prepare for end of year exams, and we supported the Child Life Department of the Arkansas Children's Hospital. I loved my experience so much that I came back the following year to be a Support Team Leader where I had the opportunity to assist the Unit Leader with identifying projects for the 7 teams in my unit, managing their paperwork, and visiting their project sites. Best job I ever had!!
What are you doing now?
I have spent the last ten years since completing my AmeriCorps experience working for various nonprofit associations and foundations in Chicago. I am also part of the leadership team for the AmeriCorps Alums Chicago chapter, started in 2010. The last couple months I decided to leave full time employment to focus on a dream of mine, writing children's books.
How has your service experience changed your worldview?
My AmeriCorps experience opened my eyes to the inequality that exists in our country and awakened the desire in me to do something about it.

Out of all your experiences with AmeriCorps, what was your proudest moment?

That's tough. Hurricane Ivan hit at the start of my second year, and we went from a campus with no disaster projects to a campus of 90% disaster projects. It was a HUGE adjustment that lead to forming relationships with the Red Cross, FEMA, and several other agencies. The following year Katrina hit and our campus had teams leading the way in helping affected communities (I was out at this point, but did return to help train team leaders for disaster projects). Disasters have continued in various parts of our country and the NCCC Southeast Region has become the disaster relief campus, even moving locations to Mississippi so they are more centrally located in the region. Then FEMA Corps was created based on the NCCC Southeast campus disaster recovery program. This makes me proud, to have been a part of something that so positively impacts our country in our moments of greatest need.
What is an invaluable lesson you learned in your service?

I learned many valuable lessons. My AmeriCorps experience completely changed who I am today. The lesson that I am currently applying to my life is money management. When I was in NCCC our bi-weekly living allowance was $150. I learned to be a minimalist and to save money even when starting with very little. This lesson has allowed me to save and prepare to take my current sabbatical to focus on writing my book.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about AmeriCorps or the program you served with?

I wish more people just knew about AmeriCorps in general. Every time I talk to someone about my experience I hear, "I wish I had known about AmeriCorps when I was out of HS/college", "Would you be willing to talk to my kid/niece/nephew about AmeriCorps", or "Could you send me information on that?" Our 1 millionth AmeriCorps member signed up this year and our advertising is strictly by word of mouth. If we could promote AmeriCorps, just a little bit, we would drastically increase the numbers of participants.

Monday, March 6, 2017

March 2017

We live in a challenging time. A time where it can be difficult to find stories about the amazing good that people still accomplish every single day. Because of this, we will be sharing stories of the work our 2016 National Service Alums award winners have done and continue to do.

Our annual National Service Alums awards honor and celebrate one person from each major stream of national service, including AmeriCorps State and National programs, AmeriCorps VISTA programs, National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), and SeniorCorps programs. Each year, we take your submissions and choose one award winner who is then honored at the Serve Illinois Opening Day program in our state capital, Springfield IL.

First up is our interview with Samoane Williams, Program Manager for First Defense Legal Aid. Samoane is an alum of AmeriCorps VISTA, where she served with the same organization. First Defense provides free, 24-hour legal representation to people in Chicago Police custody and educates Chicagoans about how to protect their constitutional rights. Their work strives to promote fairness and accountability in the justice system. Only 1% of arrestees had a lawyer present while in Chicago police custody in 2013, the year before Samoane’s service term, which is why her work was and continues to be so important.

Why did you choose to serve with AmeriCorps? 1) I chose to serve with First Defense Legal Aid (FDLA) because I really believe in the program's work and mission. I was a VISTA Attorney with FDLA'S hotline program in 2014. FDLA's hotline program provides free legal representation for people under investigation by the Chicago Police Department. The hotline was staffed by only three attorneys and heavily depended on volunteers to help provide this service. I was responsible for recruiting a network of volunteer attorneys and law students to help operate the hotline. My year of service was extraordinary. I had the opportunity to be a leader in the organization. I will always cherish that experience.

What are you doing now? 2) I stayed with FDLA after my year of service. My supervisor created a position for me to stay. In 2015, I was hired as a full-time staff attorney and program administrator of the hotline program. I am now the Program Manager of the entire organization. I manage the hotline program and street law program of the organization.

How has your service changed your worldview? 3) My service experience exposed me to the potential horrors of not knowing constitutional rights or how to exercise them. I realized how criminal justice does not guarantee actual justice.

What is something you are especially proud of accomplishing as an AmeriCorps VISTA? 4) My proudest moment as a VISTA was helping the organization's annual fundraiser be a success. I helped to organize the venue, prepare to honor our guests, and raise funds.

What is something you learned during your term of service? 5) I learned that doing valuable work is more important to me than making as much money as possible.

What is something you wish more people knew about AmeriCorps service? 6) I wish more people knew about the great opportunities that can arise from working with the organizations with VISTA programs.

Interested in learning more about First Defense Legal Aid? Check out their website: . Interested in sharing your AmeriCorps or volunteer story? Contact us at

Sarah Hertsted, Chapter President AmeriCorps Alums Chicago

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Meet Our Leadership Award Winners!

Last week, on October 21, four very special national service alums were recognized for their great work. These alums represented four national service programs: AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps State and National program, and Senior Corps. They represented a variety of fields, and came from around the state. And we have all of you to thank for introducing us to them. 

AmeriCorps Alums Chicago and the Serve Illinois Commission selected these four alums from a wide range of nominations as the best of the best, extraordinary people who exemplified the AmeriCorps pledge, commitment to improving our country and community, during their terms of service and ever since. 

We honored them all in Springfield, IL, at the Serve Illinois Commission's Opening Day ceremony, where we were joined by a very special guest, Wendy Spencer, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service!

We were so impressed that we want you to have a chance to meet our winners as well!

AmeriCorps NCCC: April Friend

For her service to AmeriCorps NCCC, today we’re honoring April Friend. April served at NCCC’s Denver campus. She also served a VISTA term with a nationally-recognized tax preparation program, the Center for Economic Progress, where she still works today as the Senior Director of Tax Services.

We also wanted to read from April’s nomination. April’s nominator said:

AmeriCorps service helped April to both define a career path as well as a personal mission to continue to serve. She continues to utilize her background to help her program move forward and ensure positive, productive experiences for all those involved.

(Pictured from left to right: Faye Stauber, Jamar Beyonou, and Birtis Reed.)

AmeriCorps VISTA: Faye Stauber

Our winner from AmeriCorps VISTA is Faye Stauber. Faye served two years as a VISTA Case Manager and After School Coordinator at Inspiration Corporation, and is now a social worker leading a team of clinical care staff and serving those afflicted with mental illness at Thresholds.

Faye’s nominator had the following to say about her:

Faye is very well rounded. She has great wisdom and incredible clinical skills that she puts to use daily. Her work ethic is top notch and she leads her team by example. Faye is very empathetic and goes above and beyond in the work that she does with our staff and our clients.

AmeriCorps State and National: Jamar Beyonou 

From AmeriCorps State and National Programs, we’re honoring Jamar Beyonou. Jamar served his AmeriCorps terms with City Year Chicago, and now, nine years later, is still serving there today as an employee.

Jamar’s nomination included the following quote:

Having worked in urban education reform for over ten years, I can honestly say that Jamar is one of the most committed and caring colleagues that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Jamar truly lives City Year's values of inclusivity, collaboration and putting students first.

Senior Corps: Birtis Reed

For his service as a Foster Grandparent, a Senior Corps program, today we honor Birtis Reed. Birtis has served an astonishing 21 years as a Foster Grandparent, where he volunteers with the children at Anna Waters Head Start.

Here’s what impressed us so much about Birtis, from the words of his nominator:

Birtis Reed has been a volunteer in the Foster Grandparent program for 21 years. This man is now 81 years old … and still volunteers every day …. Each year his evaluations continue to exceed all expectations of what our program supports. He is always smiling and in a great mood, I feel this man should be recognized for his true compassion and dedication to the children and the Foster Grandparent Program.

And one more thing:

We celebrate these individuals for their selfless work and their commitment to service, but we also celebrate that national service programs in which they served. We believe that programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps provide great opportunities for great people to do great work, and to get things done in the world.

Unfortunately, there are many who don't know about AmeriCorps or Senior Corps, and many others who don't fully understand their value. In fact, federal funding for AmeriCorps is once again on the precipice, and it needs your help to bring it back to safer ground. 

What can you do? To start with, talk about AmeriCorps. Tell your story, and tell your elected officials that this is something that matters to you. We are working on a plan to provide more ways to help, and will keep you all posted as it develops. In the mean time, thank you for all you to do to continue to serve, and to proudly continue serving out the AmeriCorps pledge to get things done!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tell Your Elected Officials that AmeriCorps Matters!

Recently, both houses of our Congress--your elected officials--proposed a budget that included major cuts to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the government arm that manages all AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs. This means they want to take away funds for AmeriCorps, which would eliminate tens of thousands of AmeriCorps positions.

As someone who knows firsthand the value of AmeriCorps programs, it's important that you TELL your elected officials that AmeriCorps is important and needs to keep it's current funding! This is

Voices for National Service, a national advocacy organization, has developed some materials to help. Please see below. You can send this template, or make your own, to your elected official. Specifically, in Illinois, the most important person you can communicate this to is Senator Mark Kirk, R-IL. 

Please take a moment to send a message or make a call to Senator Kirk before the end of this month! Staff at his office WILL read your messages and answer your calls. As a constituent, your voice and your opinions matter to the Senator, and he has a duty as your elected official to represent your interests. 

You can copy/paste any of the samples below, or send a note to us and we can send you Word doc copies, along with more details about the bills and national service in Illinois. Email us at 

Thank you for helping to Save Service!

_ _ _ _ _

Template for Email:
- Submit messages through online form: 

Dear Senator Kirk,

I am writing to you about the proposed spending bill before Congress that contains debilitating budget cuts to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a small federal agency that harnesses the power of citizens to fuel community solutions to pressing local problems. AmeriCorps and Senior Corps are two programs that CNCS administers that provide vital resources and services to our state by tutoring and mentoring struggling students, providing job training to returning veterans and their families, building homes for those in need, enabling seniors and individuals with disabilities to live independently, and helping communities recover after natural disasters. These national service programs deliver a dual benefit, offering a ladder of opportunity to those who serve.  During their service terms, members acquire workplace skills and post-service scholarships that provide access to higher education, propel them towards future career success, or help them enter or re-engage in the workforce. 

The cuts to CNCS included in the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill would have serious consequences in Illinois, where 2,826 AmeriCorps members and 12,263 Senior Corps volunteers participate in 146 programs at 2,011 sites. The bill proposes to cut CNCS by 20 percent and, if enacted, would eliminate tens of thousands of national service positions nationwide.  

This is a loss our community cannot afford.  National service programs have real impacts on communities and are a smart investment for the nation: according to a study by economists at Columbia University, for every dollar invested in national service, there is a $3.95 return to society in terms of higher earnings, increased output, and other community-wide benefits. 

In my community of Chicago, IL, [Insert personal story here. Include your connection to national and community service, the positive impacts of it that you’ve witnessed personally, and how these cuts will negatively affect your community. The more specific and meaningful, the better!].

CNCS programs play a deep and meaningful role in Illinois. Cutting them would take key services away from our community and those in need.  I ask that you use your position on the Appropriations Committee to ensure continued funding for CNCS in fiscal year 2016. Illinois is counting on you.




_ _ _ _ _ 

Template for Letter:
- Send letters to either office: 
230 South Dearborn
Suite 3900
Chicago, IL 60604
Fax: 312-886-2117 
Washington, DC
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
Fax: 202-228-4611 

Dear Senator Kirk:

As representatives of national service organizations in the state of Illinois, we urge you to protect the current funding level for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in any budget negotiation and/or continuing resolution. CNCS is our nation’s largest grantmaker for service and volunteerism, and their core programs, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps,  harness the energy and ingenuity of American citizens to address the nation's most pressing challenges. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, we know you are well positioned to support CNCS funding and ensure these programs continue to provide intensive, results-driven service to meet education, environmental, health, economic, and other pressing needs in communities across Illinois.

We represent a broad spectrum of national service organizations in Illinois.  We receive competitive grants from CNCS that helps to fuel our service delivery.  Our programs support struggling students, provide returning veterans and military families with job training, enable seniors and individuals with disabilities to live independently, and help communities rebuild after natural disasters.  Under current funding levels, STATE receives $XX million annually from CNCS, which allows a total of 12,263 Senior Corps and 2,826 AmeriCorps members to participate in 146 projects at 2,011 service locations across the state. [Add in story/example/case study of how CNCS programming affects the state]

National service programs supported by CNCS are proven to be a cost-effective investment for the nation. A study by economists at Columbia University demonstrates that, for every dollar invested in national service, there is a $3.95 return to society in terms of higher earnings, increased output, and other community-wide benefits. Through a robust public-private partnership, the federal investment in national service is highly leveraged to cultivate matching support from private, philanthropic, and local sources. Every AmeriCorps grant dollar results in another dollar of investment by community partners.

Given the impact and cost-effectiveness of national service programs in Illinois and across the country, we are extremely concerned about the proposed funding cuts to CNCS adopted by both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees for FY16. CNCS has been subject to significant reductions in funding since FY10, and further decreases to the agency’s budget would have dire implications. Should CNCS’s appropriations be cut further—after years of inadequate funding due to the combination of budget caps and sequestration—AmeriCorps and Senior Corps positions will be eliminated and our ability to deliver critical services  in Illinois will be in jeopardy. We certainly recognize the difficult atmosphere in which the Appropriations Committee is working to make challenging decisions, but the impact of national service programs on local communities and the economy in our state cannot be ignored. CNCS must be protected.

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, you have the power to protect CNCS funding. We are counting on you to be our champion.



_ _ _ _ _

Template for Phone Call:
- Call either office: Chicago - 312-886-3506 , Washington, DC - 202-224-2854 

  • Phone Call To Congressional Offices – Talking Points
  • Hi, my name is NAME and I’m calling from Chicago, Illinois.
  • I’m calling to urge the Senator/Representative to protect funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service. 
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service is our nation’s largest grantmaker for service and volunteerism, and they operate two large national service programs, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.  These programs harness the energy and ingenuity of American citizens to help address local needs.  AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members tutor students, provide job training to veterans, and aid in recovery after natural disasters. 
  • Our national service programs offer an additional benefit by helping to develop the workplace skills and experience of those who serve.   
  • National and local nonprofits receive grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service to help fuel their work, including Habitat for Humanity, City Year, Teach For America, the American Red Cross, and many others.
  • Funding for these programs is important to me because [insert personal story of how AmeriCorps/Senior Corps has affected your life and/or your community]
  • As we approach the end of the fiscal year, I respectfully request that the Senator use his Appropriations Committee position to protect funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
  • His constituents are counting on him!