Every year, thousands of Americans commit to serving our country through volunteerism and living a year of poverty. They are AmeriCorps. These dedicated service members are men and women, young and old, coming from all different backgrounds. They serve behind the scenes and on the front lines in the battle against poverty in the United States.

While the 1930’s saw the creation of National Service Corps with the initiation of Civilian Conservation Corps, shortly followed by AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) and Senior Corps in the 1960’s; AmeriCorps programs were not nationally recognized until President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act in September of 1993.

The bill established the Corporation for National and Community Service as the umbrella for all AmeriCorps programs, which now include: Learn and Serve, AmeriCorps National Direct, AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps NCCC, YCC (Youth Conservation Corps), and SeniorCorps. One year later, the first class of AmeriCorps volunteers were sworn in. 20,000 individuals would be dedicating a year of national service in more than 1,000 communities nationwide. More than 15 years later, the AmeriCorps programs swear in more than 85,000 volunteers every year to serve and partner with nearly 2,000 community and nonprofit organizations.

AmeriCorps members serve in a capacity that allows nonprofit organizations to reach more members of the community through the services they offer. Chicago Cares’ AmeriCorps members serve in a variety of roles that enhance the day-to-day operations of the organization, particularly in the areas of Youth in Service and Volunteer and Leader Services.

AmeriCorps Week recognizes those who have dedicated their lives to service through the variety of AmeriCorps programs offered through the Corporation for National and Community Service. We’re so grateful for our Chicago Cares AmeriCorps members, Adrienne, Chris and Jennifer; they each bring unique skills and talents to our organization and we know that they will continue to do great things after their service year has ended!