Launched locally in the 2011/2012 school year, City Year is celebrating 10 years in Sacramento with a commitment to improving educational equity and academic and social-emotional development for students through proven methods and tutoring with AmeriCorps student success coaches. City Year has seen growth and verifiable success in Sacramento, and has now delivered its Whole School Whole Child program to more than 36,000 students in area schools.
Across six Sacramento City Unified School District elementary and middle school campuses, nearly 70 AmeriCorps student success coaches annually serve 3,200 children through one-on-one and small-group tutoring, mentorship and whole-class support. Student success coaches, ages 18 to 25, dedicate a year of service working in schools five days a week. In September 2021, City Year marked a milestone in Sacramento — 1 million hours collectively served by the more than 600 student success coaches past and present.
Results include nearly 60% of students improving from failing to passing grades in English Language Arts and math and 80% of those who were on the cusp of falling behind maintaining passing grades. “Statistics show our success from an academic standpoint, but the trusting relationships formed between students and student success coaches are the heart of City Year,” says Jeff Owen, executive director of City Year Sacramento. “It is truly inspiring to see students bonding with these near-peer mentors. Many of these young adults are the first positive influence in some students’ lives — the first person to listen to them and advocate for them.”
“City Year helps our kids get the most from their time in school,” says Doug Huscher, assistant superintendent of student support services for SCUSD. “Regardless of what City Year school you visit, you will see City Year teams fully committed to the success of students. Boots on the ground, sleeves rolled up, fully engaged in thoughtful and strategic work with individual kids and small groups. … This will light up the face of just about any visitor.”
Student success coaches greatly benefit from their City Year experience, too. Enriched by relationships with students, teachers and faculty, they develop personally and professionally as well. They acquire experience and skills that benefit them in pursuing careers in education, counseling, social work, healthcare and more. “My City Year experience has been very satisfying,” says AmeriCorps student success coach Dwight Cox. “Giving back to my community while meeting and working with a diverse team is a great feeling. I love that I get to make memories with my students and school team. It motivates me every day and reminds me that I love what I do.”
Ultimately, the entire community benefits from City Year. Not only are they improving our schools, but they have also become a large part of our region’s workforce and leadership. “We recruit nationally, which equates to a significant workforce pipeline,” Owen says. “Roughly 50% of student success coaches in Sacramento come from out of state and another 15-20% come from outside the region, with 50% of those new to Sacramento choosing to stay, continuing to be civically active, building careers, families, businesses and lives here.”
“City Year is a testament of what our community can do together as a public-private partnership,” Owen concludes. “This was the vision of our school district partners, business community and city leaders to bring in a proven education equity nonprofit to support our underserved community. After 10 years, our data and our stakeholder feedback have shown that this was a successful and meaningful decision.”