Four years ago this week, 82 young people committed to serving as part of the first corps of City Year in Miami.
This week, 185 young people follow their footsteps as we launch our fifth corps of AmeriCorps volunteers ages 17-24 to serve as tutors, mentors and role models in schools.
City Year Miami was the product of a true American dream for two Miami-Dade County Public School alums, Brad and Cori Meltzer.
City Year works in 26 cities around the world, but Miami has been different from Day One. Our 185 Corps members serve in 15 schools, and by the end of 2013 they will have served more than 5,000 students to bring them up to grade level and get them off the truancy list.
City Year recently announced a national Long-Term Impact goal wherein we intend to ensure that 80 percent of the students in the schools that City Year serves reach 10th grade on track and on time.
Our work in Miami will call for us to focus on the ABCs — students who are off-track in attendance, behavior and course performance, the factors that research shows can result in a student dropping out of school. That job is not easy for a child, our schools or City Year.
But we have allies who see the moral and economic imperative of ensuring each child realizes his or her dream and education’s role in making it possible.
Students come to depend on the consistency and support that City Year volunteers provide, and we gain invaluable perspective on life and leadership.
We are fortunate to be doing this in a system with visionary school leaders and amazing and driven teachers.
We cannot hope to challenge the status quo of the urban graduation pipeline if we don’t also challenge philanthropy and this community to provide our schools with the tools they need to achieve.
America’s young are signing up in record numbers to serve in national service programs supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service, and we must encourage them as they do so.
Miami was built by young people and dreams — ask the descendants of the Bahamian fishermen, ask a Peter Pan emigré, ask any Auschwitz survivors and their offspring.
We start City Year Miami’s fifth year with the deepest appreciation to all who have supported our work, a renewed vigor to be part of the fabric of this city and a promise to stay consistent in our commitment to students every day, year after year.
Saif Y. Ishoof, executive director, City Year Miami, Miami