Top AmeriCorps Alumni, Programs Selected for 2019 Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Sep 20, 2019

Winners selected from California, Idaho, New Mexico, Tennessee, Wisconsin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, is proud to announce the recipients of the 2019 annual Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards. The winners, which include both AmeriCorps programs and AmeriCorps alumni, were announced at a national gathering of AmeriCorps programs in Arlington, Va., this week.

Now in its fifth year, the Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards were created to recognize the outstanding and innovative AmeriCorps programs, members, and alumni tackling our nation’s most-pressing challenges.  The 2019 award winners will accept their awards as AmeriCorps also marks its 25th anniversary, celebrating the more than 1 million Americans who have pledged to “get things done.”

“The AmeriCorps alumni and programs selected for this year’s Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards represent the best of the best,” said Chester Spellman, Director of AmeriCorps. “Their incredible efforts, the awesome dedication to improving the lives of their fellow citizens, are inspirations to us all."

The 2019 Excellence in AmeriCorps Award winners are:

  • Stephanie Taylor-Silva, AmeriCorps VISTA alumna, Free2Succeed (Idaho Falls, Idaho)
    Most Compelling AmeriCorps Member Experience

    Stephanie has an amazing story of overcoming adversity. After facing severe abuse as a child, she became addicted to drugs at the age of 14. But when Stephanie was incarcerated, incredible mentors helped her turn her life around. And so, when she was released from prison, Stephanie wanted to make a difference. She went to college and joined the AmeriCorps VISTA program, helping formerly incarcerated women enroll in college, find jobs, and lift themselves out of poverty. Stephanie recently began a new position as a Re-Entry Specialist with the Idaho Department of Correction. 
     
  • Mandy's Farm – The VAMOS Program (Albuquerque, N.M.)
    Best AmeriCorps Program Engaging More People with Disabilities

    The VAMOS program helps individuals with disabilities who are living without adult services or transition supports gain the skills they need to secure internships and jobs. Many of the beneficiaries of the program return to VAMOS to serve as AmeriCorps members; 60% of the Spring 2019 class were VAMOS alumni with disabilities. For those receiving services, it’s powerful to see themselves in the AmeriCorps members who are helping them.
     
  • iFoster TAY AmeriCorps (Truckee, Calif.)
    Best New AmeriCorps Program
    Launched in 2019, Transition Age Youth (TAY) AmeriCorps connects young people in foster care with the resources and skills needed to find employment and achieve success once they age out of the system. TAY AmeriCorps members are current and former foster youth themselves who connect their peers with these resources – meeting at 25 host sites in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area. Since it began earlier this year, the TAY AmeriCorps program has served more than 900 clients with complex cases.  
     
  • South Cumberland Plateau VISTA Project (Sewanne, Tenn.)
    Most Significant Innovation to an AmeriCorps Program
    The South Cumberland Plateau VISTA project is dedicated to growing and strengthening communities through initiatives focused on education and economic development. A new initiative of the project evolved into the first 501c3 started under the Tennessee AmeriCorps VISTA program: BetterFi. The brainchild of AmeriCorps VISTA alum Spike Hosch, the organization provides affordable consumer loans and financial coaching as an alternative to predatory payday and car title loans.
  • Alexis Dean, AmeriCorps alumnus, Schools of Hope, (Madison, Wis.)
    Most Impactful AmeriCorps Member Experience
    As an AmeriCorps Literacy Tutor and Tutor Coordinator with Schools of Hope in Madison, Wis., Alexis hit all the right notes to keeping his students engaged in the classroom. His “Attendance Rap” music video encourages students to be at school and arrive on time. It is just one of the many examples of Alexis going above and beyond to motivate students. During his service, Alexis wrote 11 different songs with his students on topics ranging from test preparation to community issues. Now that his AmeriCorps term is over, Alexis continues to serve students as a teacher with the Madison School District.

Since the program’s inception in 1994, more than 1.1 million AmeriCorps members have served the nation, giving more than 1.6 billion hours of service and earning more than $3.6 billion in education awards, or scholarships, $1 billion of which has been used to pay back student debt. Every year, 75,000 AmeriCorps members serve through more than 21,000 schools, nonprofits, and community and faith-based organizations across the country. Their service prepares students for college, reduces crime and revitalizes cities, connects veterans to jobs, fights the opioid epidemic, rebuilds communities following disasters, preserves public lands, strengthens education, fosters economic opportunity, and more.

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