In recognition of the one year anniversary of his My Brother's Keeper initiative, President Barack Obama visited Benedict College in South Carolina. He spoke on the roles education and national service play in our economy and the importance of mentoring our young students, especially male students of color. Our Columbia AmeriCorps members were honored to be in attendance. After his speech, the President took questions from the audience. One of our corps members, Tarissa Young-Clayborn asked the President how City Year and other AmeriCorps programs could help support the goals of My Brother's Keeper.

City Year, AmeriCorps -- for those young people who are thinking about public service or want to serve before they go on to graduate school, or in some cases, want to get involved before they go to college, AmeriCorps programs are an outstanding way to help fund your college education.And City Year is one of the great AmeriCorps programs that we have. In addition to them all getting these spiffy red jackets, they end up being placed in communities all across the country doing -- working in schools, working in communities in need.


Why I Serve

I serve for my brother who is currently incarcerated.  I serve to encourage my students to strive for higher heights in their education and personal goals.  Essentially, I serve to give my students something that my brother never had: a positive role model.  

AmeriCorps and City Year have given me a platform upon which to stand, that forces me to remember why I serve every day.  It gives me access to different communities and individuals to provide mentorship.  I take great pride in my AmeriCorps position because I am able to give to others what my brother searched his whole life for: a positive role model, someone to challenge his intellect, and empathy.  I encourage others to give a year of their lives and dedicate time to AmeriCorps programs because not only do you receive quality experience, but you also gain personal fulfillment because you quickly realize that there are challenges in the world that are greater than self.

Reflection On President Obama's Town Hall in Columbia, SC

President Barack Obama gave an insightful response to the question, “How can City Year and other AmeriCorps programs support the goals of My Brother’s Keeper?”  We live in a society where we wait until someone is in trouble before we intervene, which has not been successful in keeping our young men out of the correctional system and unable to contribute to society.  

However, through mentorship and collaboration between AmeriCorps programs and state initiatives, we can change that cycle.  President Barack Obama stated that AmeriCorps programs are a great tool to utilize in cities and states across America because of the access to youthful individuals who have a mind and heart to serve.  From the answer given by President Obama, I see more collaboration between AmeriCorps programs and My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.


Written by City Year Columbia AmeriCorps member, Tarissa Young-Clayborn