In today’s world, college-aged students are wanting to get more and more involved with world issues. College is a great place to stimulate intellectual and personal growth, but not everyone is lucky enough to come straight out of high school and afford college. Americorps offers many benefits to those wanting that same stimulation and the ability to get college grants for their incredible community service.

What’s Americorps?

Americorps is essentially an American version of the Peace Corps. You get to volunteer all over the country with amazing organizations, and at the end of your service, you get an education grant for your hard work. In other words, it’s a win/win situation.

Americorps VISTA, the main Americorps program, was founded in 1964 in order to help fight poverty in America. VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America, so naturally all of your projects will take place in the United States. This is a great program if you are interested in the Peace Corps but you aren’t sure if you or your parents would like international travel. There are other Americorps programs such as Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) that is more team based and helps strengthen communities; FEMA Corps, a branch of NCCC that helps with disaster relief and preparedness; and Senior Corps an organization that helps match those who are 55+ with projects that need their help.

How does Americorps work?

There are a number of organizations that employ Americorps members. Even better? While you serve your community service, you are given a modest living allowance to help with the costs of living and some programs even come with housing. You can be a member of Americorps for up to five years, but you can only gather a educational grant for two of those years.

Why do it as a college student?

If you are already in college, don’t pass up the Americorps opportunity! There is actually an Americorps VISTA Summer Associates program that allows you to work with Americorps for a shorter time but still get the benefits of a full term. These Summer Associates terms are about 8-10 weeks and the perfect way to make extra money of the summer while volunteering and being awesome.

So, why should you take a look at Americorps? For starters, community service is a wonderful thing, and it’s always great to give back to the community and support people. In addition, it does offer a unique and selfless experience that’s hard to find elsewhere. Americorps also gives you skills that are helpful in both the classroom and in the real world. You still have to interact with a team and learn important professional habits that come in handy later. It is truly an alternative education.

Are giving back and learning a lot totally your thing? Check out Americorps!

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the author

Amanda Cross is a Junior at the University of Central Arkansas where she studies Sociology with a minor in Public Relations. Amanda is the Housing Chair for the Alpha Omicron chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma and a UCA Ambassador on her campus. When Amanda is not at school you can usually find her blogging, reading, hanging out with friends/family, or sleeping. Amanda writes her own blog titled College is Love, and she also writes for UChic and The Smart Girls Group Loop.

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