Help Others While Making Money with These 3 AmeriCorps Programs

a group of people in a large garden
Michelle Durr (second from right in front row) poses for a photo with a Foodcorps group during a hands-on training session in Berkeley, Calif. Photo by Stephanie Secrest

When I graduated high school, I wanted to join the Peace Corps.

Rather than being stuck in English 101, I envisioned myself teaching it. I knew that I wanted to do something meaningful with my time and college paled in comparison to the adventures that awaited me abroad. I hesitated, though, because I wasn’t ready to be on my own in a different country.

So, begrudgingly, I enrolled in college a few hours away from home and put the Peace Corps on my bucket list.

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, then don’t throw the towel in just yet. You have options! Here are three AmeriCorps programs that can help you be the change you want to see in America and get paid for it.

FoodCorps Wants to Protect Healthy Food in Schools

The mission of FoodCorps is to create a future where all children can access healthy food in schools, and they want you to be a part of their vision.

When a FoodCorps position opened up in Hawaii, former service member Michelle Durr leaped at the opportunity. “FoodCorps is a great way to develop teaching skills and to develop a quality work ethic. Working for a national service organization teaches individuals to develop a passion for their work and to give back to their community, and I think that is very important,” she says.

Their website explains that by becoming a service member, you will be teaching children in grades K-8 about nutrition through “developing and teaching lesson plans, integrating activities into subjects such as math, science and history, working with teachers and school administrators to increase food and nutrition education in curricula, and more.”

Sounds rewarding, right? It gets even better.

FoodCorps offers service positions in 17 states and the District of Columbia, so if you’re looking to switch it up, they’ll work with you to help you land in a city you’ll enjoy during your 11-month service term.

A woman with group during trainiing at a large garden.
Michelle Durr learns along with others at a hands-on Foodcorps training session in Berkeley, Calif. Photo by Stephanie Secrest

On top of that, here are the benefits they offer:

  • Up to $22,000 living stipend for service members in New York and California and $18,250 living stipend for service members in other states (paid bi-weekly)
  • $5,920 AmeriCorps Segal Education Award, upon successful completion of your term of service (yes, please!)
  • Health insurance
  • Partial childcare reimbursement, if you qualify
  • Student loan forbearance, if you qualify
  • Training, mentorship, and professional development opportunities

“I also learned more about the farm-to-school movement and how school gardens can play a large role in the success of those programs. FoodCorps also provides many resources such as contacts in the field, professional development opportunities and education resources,” explains Durr.

Not only are they looking out for the present and future children of this nation, FoodCorps is making sure their service members are taken care of as well.

In order to be eligible for employment, all you need is a high school diploma or GED. But as Durr warns, “be prepared to get creative! FoodCorps has a broad mission.”

How Can You Help City Year Help Communities?

When Amber Schott realized that she didn’t want to continue the traditional path of college after high school, she set her sights on something bigger and more fulfilling.

She remembers that time in her life as confusing and scary, but then she learned about City Year, the organization trying to #makebetterhappen.

What City Year wants to do is bridge the gap between the support students in high-poverty areas are receiving in their schools (very, very little) and what their schools should be providing. The good folks at City Year are also increasing graduation rates through academic interventions and youth development activities.

So basically, you’d be a superhero. No big deal.

Here’s what you’re signing up for by joining the Corps:

  • 11 months of service in one of 28 cities across the U.S.
  • Biweekly stipend of $630 (If you live in San Jose, your bi-weekly stipend is $674)
  • $5,920 AmeriCorps Segal Education Award, upon successful completion of your term of service
  • Health Insurance
  • Up to 12 days of PTO and a guaranteed day off on all major holidays (score!)
  • City Year alums have access to scholarships from over 100 partnering colleges and universities

According to Schott, “City Year was like a stepping stool for the real world. Not only is this program framed to help different communities, but it is also framed to truly help build up its employees. Plus, you get to travel to other states.”

If you’re between the ages of 18 and 25 and this sounds like something you’d love to do, hurry and apply by May 11 to meet their deadline.

Happy applying!

Join the Ranks of Teach for America

A teacher at a desk works with young students.
Kayla Copley works with students at an elementary school in Cleveland, Miss., during her time in the Teach For America program. Photo courtesy of Kayla Copley

Do you have a bachelor’s degree and an interest in teaching, but would like to experience it without having to get a second degree?

Well, that’s exactly what Kayla Copley wanted, so she applied to Teach for America. But if you ask her, she’ll tell you it’s not for the weak-hearted.

Teach for America is a nonprofit organization that aims to create systemic change in public education by making sure teachers are where students need them – in the classroom.

A two-year term with this company looks like this: You have access to working with students in up to 53 regions, health and retirement benefits, loan forgiveness, scholarships and grants and a salary ranging from $33,000 to $58,000.

a teacher and student make funny faces.
Kayla Copley makes funny faces with a student during a summer program at at an elementary school in Cleveland, Miss., while working for Teach For America. Photo courtesy of Kayla Copley

The perks are tempting, but Copley advises that you “understand what you’re in for.”

“Teach for America provided me with a ton of opportunities. I matured so much during my time with them. I was in a new city with new people, learning something completely foreign to me, and I genuinely felt like I was making a difference,” she says.

On the other hand, between the teaching in the classroom, tutoring, creating lesson plans, and attending trainings, Copley says to “make sure you are ready to completely dedicate yourself for the next two years. It is a serious commitment.”

If you’re up for the challenge, Teach for America will be accepting applications this August!

Farrah Daniel is a Haitian American living in sunny St. Petersburg, where she recently graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She’s passionate about storytelling and culture. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cats and taste-testing the best milkshakes in town.