Pathways to Progress: ServiceWorks Program Launch Ceremony
By Brandee McHale, Chief Operating Officer, Citi Foundation
August 06, 2014 01:08 PM
The power of service was front and center this past week as the newest group of AmeriCorps VISTAs proudly proclaimed: "I am an AmeriCorps member and I will get things done," before setting off to begin their work with low-income youth in cities across the United States.
This group of 50 AmeriCorps VISTA members became the inaugural cohort of ServiceWorks, created by Points of Light, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Citi Foundation. These inspiring young men and women will work with thousands of underserved youth over the next year to help them develop the skills they need for college and careers. ServiceWorks is a key component of the Citi Foundation's recently launched Pathways to Progress
campaign: a three-year, $50 million commitment to unlock new opportunities and jump-start career readiness for 100,000 low-income youth.
Each of the VISTAs has a personal reason for why they are dedicating one year of their lives to national service. Abe Sierra, for example, shared his story about how someone gave up their time to serve - by mentoring him - which left a profound impact on his life. Last week, he began his second stint as a ServiceWorks AmeriCorps VISTA dedicated to serving the next generation of young people.
Before travelling to their cities, the VISTAs came together in New York for a week of pre-service orientation and training. This included attending a New York Mets game at Citi Field, where representatives from the Citi Foundation, Points of Light and CNCS took to homeplate to honor the commitment to service being made and to celebrate the beginning of the largest corporate-funded AmeriCorps VISTA program.
To cap the launch of the program, Citi hosted a swearing-in ceremony at its New York City headquarters.
Ed Skyler, Citi's Executive Vice President of Global Public Affairs and Chairman of the Citi Foundation, welcomed more than 250 guests, including local, state and federal officials and began his remarks by addressing the new VISTAs: "Service provides people with critical skills that can help in their careers - skills like leadership, team building and problem solving. As leaders, you'll convey the characteristics that will help young people succeed in their careers and in life."
Points of Light Chairman Neil Bush stressed the importance of volunteerism, and Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, led the VISTAs in the AmeriCorps oath and pinning ceremony.
The VISTAs seemed truly inspired and excited to be a part of ServiceWorks, after hearing motivational remarks from keynote speaker Deon Jones; J. Ivy, the ceremony's Grammy Award-winning emcee, who wrote a poem for the VISTAs; and a performance by young people engaged with The Door, the New York community partner that is hosting ServiceWorks.
Pathways to Progress is a Citi Foundation initiative that works with community partners, city officials and Citi employee volunteers to help low-income urban youth develop the leadership experience, professional skills and the workplace know-how they will need on their path towards college and careers. Follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Pathways2Progress
*Tagged as: citi foundation, corporation for national and community service, pathways to progress, points of light, serviceworks