CCR Leads Discussion Series with AmeriCorps Project YES!

Project YES! is an AmeriCorps program that connects members with youth in the West Town community in Chicago to support their academic achievement, provide alternatives to destructive behavior, and foster an ethic of service. Project YES! members are placed at high schools, elementary schools, and the Northwestern University Settlement House. Project YES! has integrated civic reflection into its programming and member training since 2003.

"

The reflection and critical thinking that happens in these discussions creates a richer, deeper, and more meaningful experience of service.

"

--AmeriCorps Project YES! member, 2011-2012

"

Civic reflection helped me process and think about my experiences on a larger scale, not just as day-to-day service -- helped me see the bigger picture.

"

--AmeriCorps Project YES! member, 2011-2012

Audience Focus

26 service members enrolled in AmeriCorps Project YES! in 2011-2012

Goals

  1. Help Project YES! members explore fundamental questions about service and the schools and communities where they served
  2. Build relationships between members, as well as between members and program staff
  3. Increase Project YES! members' commitment to public service -- both now and in the future
  4. Improve or sustain a high level of member retention for the Project YES! program
2011-2012 AmeriCorps Project YES! members pose for a picture

Project Description

In the year 2011-2012, the Center for Civic Reflection led a 6-session civic reflection discussion series with approximately 26 AmeriCorps Project YES! members. The discussion series was part of Meaning of Service, a national reading and discussion program for service members. The topics of the discussions ranged from talking about what it means to work within a system that can be unjust to what motivated the members to serve.

The discussions made such an impact on members that 6 members asked to attend The Center for Civic Reflection's open-call facilitation training in May 2012 to learn how to facilitate civic reflection discussions themselves. The members left the facilitation training with many concrete ideas for how to use the practice of civic reflection. One member hoped to start dialogues with the staff at her service site about school-wide issues; another member hoped to get reflective discussions started with medical students in her first year of medical school when her year with AmeriCorps was complete. Either way, all of the members clearly came to see dialogue and reflection not only as an essential part of their service experience, but something they hoped to incorporate into their future public service work. 

Impact

  1. 87% of members agreed or strongly agreed that civic reflection "positively impacted my commitment to service."
  2. Nearly 9 out of every 10 members agreed or strongly agreed that civic reflection "improved my relationships with other members and volunteers."
  3. 100% of the 26 members in 2011-2012 were retained by the Project YES! program.
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