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Third Annual AmeriCorps Week
Date:4/28/2009

AmeriCorps Member Aid Illinois

CHICAGO, April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The Third Annual AmeriCorps Week (May 9-16) hopes to illustrate the continuing impact that AmeriCorps volunteers are having across America every day. There are over 2,300 AmeriCorps volunteers serving in Illinois this year, assisting at-risk youth, providing services for the homeless, building homes for low-income families, and assisting nonprofits in volunteer recruitment and achieving their vision.

"We are very proud of Illinois' AmeriCorps programs and grateful to the AmeriCorps members who are 'getting things done' all across the state," said Scott Kimmel, executive director of the Serve Illinois Commission. "AmeriCorps members make a significant impact on Illinois' ability to meet many local needs, and AmeriCorps Week is a perfect opportunity to recognize their great work."

AmeriCorps is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. AmeriCorps is comprised of three main programs: AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC.

Since the creation of AmeriCorps in 1994, more then 20,000 volunteers from Illinois have served in AmeriCorps and have devoted more than 26 million hours of service to their country. In exchange for their service, AmeriCorps members earn an education award of up to $4,725 that can be used to pay for college or to pay back qualified student loans. Since 1994, more than 17,000 Illinois residents have qualified for AmeriCorps Education Awards totaling more than $59,100,000.

During AmeriCorps week, AmeriCorps members will perform various service projects that address homelessness and poverty. A Chicago based group, Chicago HOPES (Heightening Opportunity and Potential for Educational Success) provides a one-on-one after school tutoring program for students in homeless shelters. The entire Chicago HOPES staff is composed of AmeriCorps VISTA members.

Chicago HOPES participated in AmeriCorps Week last year by volunteering in a community garden in the Austin neighborhood. This year, Chicago HOPES plans on providing a presentation about AmeriCorps to a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school, and asking CPS CEO, Ron Huberman to participate as an AmeriCorps member for a day - by visiting one of homeless shelters and by volunteering at the Greater Chicago Food Depository on May 8th.

"Just months after the enactment of legislation to expand national service, it is an amazing time to spotlight what local community members are doing to help others," said Kari Mills, shelter coordinator at Chicago HOPES.

After the completion of their service, AmeriCorps members usually continue to be engaged in their communities through volunteering, creation of not for profits, and the pursuit of needed community resources.

AmeriCorps week also serves to highlight the AmeriCorps program, in hopes of recruiting additional individuals passionate about combating poverty and providing essential services. This annual observance calls attention to the valuable work being done and promotes the opportunities AmeriCorps offers to its members. Projects held during the week will allow local citizens to discover and participate in AmeriCorps programming.

Chicago HOPES provides a one-on-one after school tutoring program for students in homeless shelters. Created in 2006, HOPES is an initiative of the CPS Homeless Education Program. They currently have their specialized programming at seven different homeless shelters in Chicago. For more information on AmeriCorps week and for additional suggestions on how to get involved, go to www.AmeriCorpsWeek.gov, and to get involved with Chicago HOPES, go to www.ChicagoHOPES.org.


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SOURCE Chicago HOPES
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