Applications are now being accepted for summer positions in a unique statewide program administered by the West Virginia University Extension Service and AmeriCorps that helps 3,000 West Virginia children maintain and improve their reading skills.
AmeriCorps is recruiting mentors and community coordinators for Energy Express, an award-winning, 8-week program offered in rural and low-income West Virginia communities. The program is designed to provide learning opportunities and nutrition during the summer months, when children are most at risk for falling behind on reading levels – a preventable loss known as the “summer slide.” “Energy Express brings opportunities for enrichment, growth – and just as important – a little fun for children who might not otherwise have access to these resources,” said Terri Collier, WVU Extension Service 4-H Literacy and Academic Success specialist. “We find that when children can have fun during the learning process they become more focused and driven.”
There are two ways in which people can serve Energy Express through AmeriCorps: as a mentor or community coordinator. Energy Express mentors are college, or college-bound, students who make learning fun for small groups of school-age children by creating a safe, enriching environment focused on reading, writing, art and drama. In addition to the learning activities, mentors eat nutritious, family-style meals with children, make family visits and complete a community service project.
The community coordinator recruits volunteers to assist Energy Express children during reading, writing, art, drama and non-competitive recreation activities. Other community coordinator duties include raising awareness and involving the community and family members in children’s learning. Each community coordinator will also complete a community service project with other Energy Express AmeriCorps members.
In return for their 300 hours of service, AmeriCorps mentors and community coordinators receive a $1,850 summer living allowance and a $1,210 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award valid for up to seven years to pay for college tuition or loans. Each summer, AmeriCorps engages college-bound graduating high school seniors and currently enrolled college students to serve communities in need. AmeriCorps’ Energy Express mentors must be at least 18 years of age before June 16.
Community coordinators must also be 18 years of age by the above date. However, these positions are not limited to college students. Applications for both positions are available online at energyexpress.wvu.edu, or by calling 304-293-3855. The selection process begins March 1. Applications are accepted until all positions are filled.
Energy Express is a program under the leadership of WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program. This AmeriCorps program is funded, in part, by grants from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and Volunteer West Virginia. Volunteer West Virginia encourages West Virginians of all ages and abilities to be involved in service to their communities. Based on the success of Energy Express participants and the unique aspects of the program, the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University named Energy Express program one of the nation’s best summer learning programs in 2009.
For more information about Energy Express, visit energyexpress.wvu.edu, or call 304-293-3855.