A Rich History of Community Planning and Cooperation.
The Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network
Sponsored, Housed, and Managed by LifeWorks
Why AmeriCorps in Cowlitz County?
In 1999, with the whole spectrum of "big city" needs on the increase, with local non-profits faced with burgeoning case loads, and schools dedicated to supporting students at greatest risk for academic failure, Cowlitz County was fertile soil for the creation of an AmeriCorps team. Prompted by an inquiry to the United Way of Cowlitz County from the Washington Commission for National and Community Service, thirty-one local agencies, three school districts, thirteen schools, and the local Community College convened in a planning process that culminated in the creation of the first Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network team in 2000.
Who Manages the Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network?
Cowlitz County is now part of a national service program where people of all ages and backgrounds earn a stipend and an education award in return for an 11-month commitment to serve the community. The Cowlitz Wahkiakum Council of Governments and United Way boards jointly approved the selection of a local non-profit, Life Works, to develop the program and provide day-to-day support and oversight. Fiscal management responsibility has resided with Grantee, United Way of Cowlitz County, from the program’s inception to December 2010. United Way released that responsibility to LifeWorks in January 2011. The program is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service from offices in Olympia, Washington.
What are Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network Members Doing?
Members are recruited and placed in schools, non-profits, and governmental settings to help our community partners build their capacity and meet their missions. In response to alarming community statistics, member service includes: mentoring children for success in the classroom, working with victims of violence and abuse, supporting participants in substance abuse alternative programs like Drug Court, and in youth alcohol education and prevention efforts.
Members work with incarcerated youth at the juvenile facility, help bring health education and referral service to adults without insurance, recruit community volunteers for a variety of tasks. They also assist people with mental health issues, improve child and family literacy, work with high school students to acquire credits for graduation, participate in preschool readiness programs, and help people with developmental disabilities reach their goals.
Over 200 people ages 17-69 have taken the pledge of service and committed to the Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network and their host agency. Members come with differing skills, personalities, training, and educational levels. All share a desire to help the community and provide a service. They see national service as a growth opportunity and an investment in their future and that of their community.
Outcomes of the Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network
- Students who were mentored advanced one or more academic grade levels.
- Non-profit social service organizations increased their capacity to serve more clients, or to serve clients more in-depth.
- AmeriCorps members reported an overwhelming increase in their self confidence, leadership skills, and understanding of community needs.
For more information about the Corporation for National and Community Service, the parent organization for AmeriCorps, click on the logo below.