AmeriCorps is a national service program that recruits members to strengthen communities, get things done, build leaders and expand horizons. Project POWER, which stands for Putting Opportunity Within Everyone’s Reach, is the local program of AmeriCorps and a program of Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County.
Created in response to America’s Promise, Project POWER/AmeriCorps has contributed to the success of thousands of young people across the area, and has provided meaningful service opportunities to hundreds of AmeriCorps volunteers since 1998.
Located in the mountains of Western North Carolina, in the city of Asheville, Project POWER/AmeriCorps serves at-risk youth in schools, non-profits and faith- based organizations throughout Buncombe County.
The primary objective of this program is to provide increased enrichment and mentoring services to vulnerable youth in the city and county. Now in its fifteenth year, Project POWER/AmeriCorps has served thousands of youth with multiple activities designed to impact the high school drop-out rate in Buncombe County, including one-to-one mentoring, participation in the design and completion of service learning projects, and developmental training in conflict resolutions skills. In addition, Project POWER/AmeriCorps seeks to empower community members to increase engagement with youth with an extensive volunteer component that includes recruitment, training and support of volunteers.
Services associated with Project POWER/AmeriCorps are provided by AmeriCorps members at community and faith-based sites, including public schools, non-profit agencies, and charter schools. Below are the stated performance objectives of Project POWER/AmeriCorps:
- Provide specialized enrichment activities for at-risk youth by offering classroom assistance during the school day and after-school assistance in learning centers.
- Recruit, train, and support volunteers who provide services along with AmeriCorps members.
- Increase at-risk youth’s ability to connect with their community through service and volunteering.
- Provide ongoing, extensive training/continuing education for AmeriCorps members who deliver the services of Project POWER.
Project POWER/AmeriCorps provides specialized enrichment, volunteer recruitment and support, and service learning to the community and member development to our members. These components help increase the capacity of our local non-profit and school partners by providing trained and committed volunteers to provide enrichment and volunteer opportunities for community members and at-risk youth in Buncombe County.
Project POWER/AmeriCorps members serve in elementary, middle, high schools and afterschool/summer learning centers as enrichment specialists. A school enrichment specialist may serve as a classroom teacher assistant, a technology assistant in the school’s computer lab, a parent-volunteer coordinator, or even a garden specialist.
Volunteer Recruitment and Support
Project POWER/AmeriCorps members help schools and non-profit organizations leverage limited financial resources and to build a network of service among community members. The members identify, enlist and support volunteers to help meet the needs of the organizations.
Project POWER/AmeriCorps members serving as after school enrichment specialists plan and implement two 10-session service learning projects over the course of the year. The members work with students to identify a community need and organize the project to increase students’ ethic of service, self-esteem, community commitment, academic achievement, and ability to work with others. Project topics are diverse and flexible, limited only by members’ creativity and desire.
Project POWER is one of the longest-operating AmeriCorps programs in North Carolina. Much of the program’s success is attributed to a commitment to members’ needs, support, and training.
Each service year begins with an orientation that includes trainings on mentoring, after school programming, conflict resolution tactics, self-care and stipend budgeting strategies. The orientation time also affords ample opportunities for team building and reflection.
Throughout the year, members continue to receive extensive trainings at weekly meetings. Topics include non-profit management, discussions on dismantling racism, leadership and professional development, stereotypes in service, and life after AmeriCorps, just to name a few.
Equal Opportunity Employer
Children First/CIS and Project POWER/AmeriCorps encourage individuals with disabilities to participate as national service providers through the AmeriCorps programs. Children First/CIS and Project POWER/AmeriCorps prohibit any form of discrimination against persons with disabilities in recruitment, as well as in service.
A “qualified individual with a disability” is an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodations, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by the program. Reasonable accommodations may include modifying rules, policies, or practices; the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers; or the provision of auxiliary aids and services.
Children First/CIS provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment, without regard to race, color, gender, national origin, age or handicap in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws.
- Served 994 at-risk students in Asheville/ Buncombe County with enrichment services
- Completed 24 service learning projects involving more than 496 students
- Members served approximately 65,668 hours
- Recruited 1,327 community volunteers, who provided 28,658 hours to local youth
- Helped 97% students pass on to the next grade with a marked improvement in their academic standing, with 93% expressing an improved attitude towards education
- Partners included: ArtSpace Charter School; Claxton Elementary; Hall Fletcher Elementary; Ira B Jones Elementary; Vance Elementary; ACS In Real Life; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Emma Elementary; Francine Delany New School for Children; Johnston Elementary; Children First/ CIS Project MARCH; UNCA – Key Center; YMCA; YWCA
For more information about the Project POWER/AmeriCorps program, please contact us:
Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County
Project POWER/AmeriCorps Program
50 S. French Broad Ave. Ste. #246
Asheville, NC 28801
fax: (828) 281-3308
Project POWER is funded by the N.C. Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
This material is based upon work supported by the CNCS under the AmeriCorps Grant No. 06AFHNC0010017. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position that is endorsed by, the Corporation or the AmeriCorps program.