Transitioning into high school is one of the most pivotal moments in a student’s education. Studies show success in ninth grade can predict the likelihood of a student graduating from high school.
To support students in Multnomah County, where the on-time graduation rate is just 64.7%, Oregon Campus Compact (ORCC) partnered again this summer with Ninth Grade Counts, a collaborative of the All Hands Raised Partnership focused on the crucial summer transition, ninth grade. More than 20 nonprofits and schools districts, including ORCC, come together as a part of this effort.
For the past five years, ORCC’s Summer VISTA program has partnered with the Corporation for National and Community Service and Ninth Grade Counts to create a sustainable, positive impact. In 2012, a study by the Northwest Evaluation Association found that participants in Ninth Grade Counts stayed on track through ninth grade at higher rates and had better school attendance than non-participants. Partners believe these successes will contribute to increases in Multnomah County’s high school graduation rate.
The program also made an impact on the college students who were selected to serve as Summer VISTAs. Recruited from ORCC’s membership of colleges and universities, students deepened their understanding of pressing needs and gained hands on experience transforming the community. In addition, they discovered their values and passions and earned a living stipend and AmeriCorps education award to help pay for school.
"Working with [Ninth Grade Counts] has really impacted me a lot. It has actually made me rethink what I want to major in, in college,” explained one Summer VISTA. “Working with these kids and seeing the type of impact and change that I can make in their lives is an awesome feeling. It makes me feel as though I am really doing something in the community and in my life."
The Summer VISTA program leverages smart, young people with fresh ideas to serve the community. ORCC is motivated to foster the next generation of thoughtful, educated, committed leaders and to prepare them to solve Multnomah County and Oregon’s most complex problems. ORCC supports this vision by connecting students to their communities and by deepening their understanding of critical issues so they're prepared to lead as future decision makers and mentors.
To learn more about ORCC and how to become an ORCC campus member, contact Josh Todd, ORCC Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503.406.3570.
To learn more about Ninth Grade Counts or the All Hands Raised Partnership, contact Jeanie-Marie Price, Vice President of Communication at All Hands Raised, email@example.com or 503.234.5404.
As students begin to settle into their classes, ORCC’s AmeriCorps VISTA members are getting comfortable in their new role as service-learning ambassadors on campuses. This year, ORCC welcomed 23 members at 18 colleges, universities, and community organizations, as well as one VISTA Leader at ORCC. Members were selected from an unbelievably competitive pool of local and national candidates. They come to the team with incredible experience, passion, and drive, and ORCC is excited to see them feed their unique talents into their projects.
Throughout the year, team members will embody the mission of AmeriCorps VISTA by working to alleviate poverty. By mobilizing campus and community resources, the VISTAs will generate, develop, and implement ways for the campus to reflect on the root causes of poverty and work towards solutions with the community.
The VISTAs will spend the next year focused on developing poverty related service-learning opportunities. They will accomplish this by building relationships, managing service events, coordinating programs that engage students in service, and increasing the level of civic engagement on their campuses. As their work unfolds, ORCC is excited to see them inspire change and get things done!
Meet Our AmeriCorps VISTA 2013-2014 Team!
The end of August marked the end of the term of service for Oregon Campus Compact’s (ORCC) 2012-2013 full-time AmeriCorps teams. Throughout the year, 22 AmeriCorps Retention Project and VISTAs worked with 14 colleges, universities, and community partners to develop mentoring programs for at-risk students, and to increase the capacity of campuses and communities to fight poverty.
Their success is measured not only by what they accomplished on campuses, but also by their individual and collective spirit of service. ORCC is honored to have worked with the members and excited to see how they impact communities in their future pursuits. We look forward to staying in touch and thank everyone for their service and commitment.
In one year, the AmeriCorps Retention Project and VISTA teams:
A year with the team in photos