The author is pictured at left with (l to r) Conor Richardson, AmeriCorps member; Charisse Lillie, Vice President of Community Investment, Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast Foundation; Larry Sedgwick and Dianaliz Cruz Rodriguez, AmeriCorps members.
By Darryl Bundrige, Executive Director & Vice President, City Year Philadelphia
Last week at City Year Philadelphia’s Opening Day Ceremony, I witnessed 205 incredibly talented City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps members take the pledge and commit to a year of service in 14 Philadelphia schools. This event, modeled after Major League Baseball’s first day of the season, is an annual City Year tradition dating back to the organization’s start in 1988. The ceremony is a literal and symbolic beginning to a new year of helping students change their educational outcomes and their futures as a whole.
The event was powerfully moving and inspiring to me. As an AmeriCorps alumnus, I’m so proud that these young people have chosen to give a year of their lives to address what some refer to as the civil rights issue of this generation. As a community, we need to reverse the trajectory of all students who feel disenfranchised and disengaged and provide guidance to graduate high school with the skills they need to positively navigate their next life steps.
The event was also moving to me because of the outpouring of community support. In additional to our National Opening Day Sponsor, Comcast NBCUniversal, I saw several corporate partners, education supporters, funders and community leaders in attendance, proving we are all in this together.
City Year is able to continue our business of changing young lives because of the support of the Philadelphia community. Team sponsors, like Comcast NBCUniversal, assure that City Year can provide support at a specific school that needs us. Their Digital Literacy Program has provided students with the tools they need to help bridge the digital divide that exists in some of the diverse, low-income communities that City Year Philadelphia serves.
These community partnerships are not just necessary, they are critical. The students, the teachers and schools we serve in simply don’t have the essential resources to meet the dire needs that exist. Too many students drop out of school, but City Year helps students stay in school and on track. We can all play a part. Join us for a service day and help beautify a school, help us develop these young leaders with professional development opportunities, consider a sponsorship or simply tell a friend or colleague about the crucial work these young adults are doing. I encourage you to visit our website to learn more.