Schools should consider partnering with City Year

M&T’s Robert Wilmers, the M&T Foundation and the Buffalo Public Schools are currently exploring Teach for America to add teachers to improve student outcomes. My daughter works for another AmeriCorps program in Boston called City Year that may also be worth investigating.

Started by two Harvard Law School roommates, City Year’s mission is wholly focused on keeping students in lower-performing urban schools on track to graduate. Talented City Year Corps members, ages 17 to 24, volunteer full time in city schools for a “year” in grades three through nine.

The young mentors enthusiastically greet arriving students in the morning, run before- and after-school programs, provide intensive tutoring, help with homework and check in with absent students to stress the connection between attendance and success.

Known as near peers, they lead students in community service projects and occasionally accompany them to sporting and cultural events.

Wearing signature red jackets with City Year emblazoned on the back, participants are visible and supported in the cities in which they serve.

A proven program, City Year has demonstrated gains in attendance, behavior and academics and corresponding increases in high school graduation rates.

Less measurable, but equally compelling, is the lasting influence these idealistic volunteers have on the impressionable students they generously help every day.

Like other AmeriCorps programs, selection is thorough and competitive, with five applicants for each opening.

Aside from the rewards of giving a year to change the world, City Year’s slogan, volunteers receive basic living expenses from AmeriCorps and City Year funds.

Alumni are also eligible for generous scholarships through partnerships with many colleges and universities.

Headquartered in Boston, there are 24 City Year programs across the United States. For more information, visit

Sheila H. Miller