FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
EAST BOSTON, MA (February 26, 2018) - Today, ENGAGE and Service Year Alliance officially announced the launch of the East Boston Corps, a neighborhood-wide strategy to close the youth program gap and solve other community challenges in East Boston — like obesity, unemployment, and English literacy. ENGAGE is a Boston-based initiative focused on promoting positive youth development across the country and Service Year Alliance is a nonprofit missioned with making a year of service a common expectation and opportunity for all.
“Three out of every four young people between the ages of 10-16 — approximately 2,000 youth — do not have access to after school programs in East Boston. This leads to increased gang violence and a lack of youth agency,” said Kevin Ballen, Director of ENGAGE. “We have been working across the East Boston community to develop full-time, paid service year opportunities to solve this critical community need.”
A service year is a paid opportunity to develop real-world skills through hands-on service. Together, Service Year Alliance and ENGAGE have developed a three year strategy focused on scaling service years as solutions to address local challenges. By the Fall of 2020, the organizations hope to grow from 15 to 115 service year corps members deployed at local nonprofits. Each service year corps member will engage 25 young people after school, on the weekends, and during the summer, providing an out-of-school time slot for every young person in East Boston.
“Participating in a service year allows community members to build key life skills that are highly valued by employers in all sectors — skills like communication, cultural competency, and problem-solving,” said Rep. Adrian C. Madaro. “The East Boston Corps will both provide positive opportunities for youth and develop service leaders in our community.”
“We are excited to formally welcome ENGAGE and East Boston into the inaugural cohort of Service Year Impact Communities,” said Robert Simmons III, President of Service Year Alliance. “This is a network of movers — innovative community leaders who recognize that service years are one of the big ideas of our time and can be even more powerful when intentionally deployed to meet community needs. Among this group of innovators, ENGAGE stands out as the first organization to develop a scalable service year model at the neighborhood level.”
Within 10 days of announcing the service year program, the East Boston Corps had already funded five service year corps members through a partnership with Social Capital Inc’s AmeriCorps program. The service year corps members are serving at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, the East Boston Social Centers, Maverick Landing Community Services, and Everyday Boston. Service year corps members are growing a middle school healthy lifestyle program, building new teen leadership programs, recruiting more neighborhood volunteers, and launching new youth weekend story sharing programs.