City Year

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City Year
City Year logo
Founded 1988
Founder Michael Brown and Alan Khazei
Focus Education
Area served

Baton Rouge
Columbia (South Carolina)
Columbus (Ohio)
Little Rock/North Little Rock
Los Angeles
New Hampshire
New Orleans
New York City
Greater Philadelphia
Rhode Island
San Antonio
San José/Silicon Valley
Seattle/King County
Washington, D.C.

Johannesburg, South Africa

London, England
Method citizen service, civic engagement and social entrepreneurship
Key people

Michael Brown, Cofounder and CEO
Jim Balfanz, President (City Year Boston '94)

Charlie Rose, Senior Vice President & Dean
US $79,298,613
approximately 2,500 in 2012 Corps members
Slogan give a year. change the world.
Revenue numbers are from the 2011 City Year annual report[1]

City Year is an education-focused nonprofit organization, based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA that partners with high need public schools to provide full-time targeted student interventions. In communities across the United States and through two international affiliates, City Year's teams of 17 to 24 year old AmeriCorps members support students by focusing on attendance, behavior, and course performance through in-class support, 1-on-1 and small group tutoring, mentoring, and after school programs that keep kids in school and on track to success. The organization's culture emphasizes the values of leadership, diversity and community service.


City Year was founded in 1988 by Michael Brown and Alan Khazei, then-roommates at Harvard Law School, who felt strongly that young people in service could be a powerful resource for addressing America's most pressing issues. They built City Year with the conviction that one person can make a difference; and since its inception, City Year has promoted the vision of service as a common expectation – and a real opportunity – for citizens all around the world.

Initially, corps members focused their efforts on community rehabilitation, beautification of neighborhoods, and developing community awareness in Boston. Over the years, the organization has expanded, opening sites in 24 cities throughout the U.S., and refocused its mission on fighting the dropout crisis.

Inspired by a visit with City Year during his 1992 run for the U.S. presidency, President Bill Clinton enlisted the help of Brown, Alan Khazei and others to establish AmeriCorps through the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. Since then, more than 575,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed upwards of 700 million hours of public service. All Americorps members, originally conceived as unpaid volunteers in service, are now paid by the federal government through the Corporation for National and Community Service (agency funding for 2010 was $1.6 billion) and subsequently through a variety of matching grants, including the Segal Americorps Education Award. City Year, along with thousands of other non-profit organizations, is a member of the AmeriCorps network, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

In early 2005, City Year opened its first international site in South Africa.[2] A second international affiliate, City Year London based in London, England, followed in 2010.[3] City Year London received financial support from the Fund of the London Mayor.[3]

In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf region, City Year opened a site in Louisiana to help with the recovery. The Louisiana Corps motto was "Here to Serve, Here to Stay."[2]

In 2009, Michael Brown announced "In School and On Track: A National Challenge." City Year’s In School & On Track initiative is designed to bring City Year corps members to 50% of all of the students falling off track in City Year’s 24 U.S. locations, which will require expanding the number of corps members to 6,000 and engaging school districts, the private sector and the federal government through AmeriCorps as partners.

Over the years, the organization has expanded and focused its mission on fighting the dropout crisis in American education. In 2012, City Year launched a ten-year strategy to build the nation's urban graduation pipeline with a $10 million pledge from Trustee Jonathan Lavine.[4] The goal of the strategy is to double the number of students reaching the tenth grade on track to graduate in the schools where City Year serves, ensuring that at least 80% of the students in these schools are on track to graduate.[5] City Year corps members function as a "human capital resource" in underperforming elementary, middle and high schools, working with sliding students to provide targeted academic interventions aimed at curbing the number of high school dropouts.

Full-time School Based Service[edit]

City Year Corps members in Boston's Copley Square

People from the ages of 17 to 24 commit to a ten-month term of service with City Year, performing a combination of service, leadership development, and civic engagement as corps members.

To respond to the challenges facing public education, corps members work in schools full-time providing academic support and after school programming. These school partnerships work within a framework known as Whole School, Whole Child (WSWC). This program has several components, aimed at improving school attendance, student behavior, and course performance in English and Mathematics. These three factors, called the "ABCs", are prominent early warning indicators of students at risk of dropping out of high school.[6] According to the study, a child who exhibits even one of these indicators as early as sixth grade has a 75 percent chance of dropping out. Reaching those same children at the right time, with the correct intervention, can be the difference in whether or not that child makes it to graduation.

Corps members provide one-on-one and group tutoring to improve literacy and math skills, and work to promote a positive school climate by hosting a variety of evening and weekend events designed to engage students, their families, the school community and the local community.

In the 2012 - 2013 academic year, 2,500 City Year corps members serve approximately 150,000 students in 238 schools nationwide.

Heroes Program[edit]

City year has established a Young Heroes Program in various locations around the United States. The Young Heroes program is for middle school students, and City Heroes program is for High School students. This program is based in and around various public schools and is targeted towards 6th-8th graders. The program is based around leadership development and community service and is operated by City Year corps members. The program introduces various students from all across the city who work together to perform different leadership and community service tasks. Many members acquire leadership skills and abilities, while building compassion and other characteristics to help build a better life and community for themselves and their peers. The program runs from December until May of each year. Upon completing the program, not only do members receive a beautiful City Year jacket, they also receive different awards highlighting their outstanding work and may be eligible to receive a Volunteer Service Award acknowledged and signed by the President.

The Corps[edit]

City Year corps members are between the ages of 17 and 24 and represent a diverse array of racial, ethnic, religious, and educational backgrounds. Approximately 60% of the corps members are recent college graduates, while approximately 20% have some college and approximately 20% are recent high school graduates.

Corps members begin their term of service in the summertime, undergoing several weeks of intensive training before the beginning of the school year, when they are assigned to serve on a team at one particular school. During this training, corps members are oriented to City Year culture and trained on how to work within schools.

Like other AmeriCorps members, City Year corps members receive a biweekly living allowance, or stipend. This stipend varies depending on the cost of living for the particular site that a corps member is serving at. Many City Year corps members also receive transportation benefits for the local transit authority.

City Year is a highly selective program. Last year,[when?] roughly 1 in 5 applications to City Year were offered a spot with the current corps.


City Year corps members wear a distinctive uniform, issued by the organization - a red bomber jacket worn with khaki pants and Timberland boots. Three City Year sites, San José/Silicon Valley, Sacramento, and Los Angeles, wear yellow bomber jackets due to pre-existing gang associations with the color red in the communities in which they serve. Corps members perform a "readiness" check each morning to ensure that all pieces of the uniform are being worn with excellence.

Prominent members of a community in which City Year serves who have acted as major advocates or champions of the organization are often gifted with their own red jacket. This honor is called jacketing. Upon gifting the jacket, a current City Year corps member explains the significance of the jacket:

"The City Year red jacket is a symbol of hope to the children and communities that we serve. It has been weaved together with not only cotton and thread but also with the spirit, idealism and purposeof serving others. Each year the faces of the corps members may change but the symbol of the jacket remains the same. It is our honor to officially welcome you into the City Year family by presenting you with your very own City Year red jacket!"

Unity Rally[edit]

At the beginning of some City Year service days, corps members start their day in an event called Unity Rally. Unity Rally is typically held in a public place in the city such as a square, park or monument. For example, City Year San Antonio performs Unity Rally in front of the Alamo Mission and City Year Columbus performs in front of the Ohio Statehouse.[citation needed] It is meant to be a public demonstration of the idealism and energy of the corps and their commitment to serving the community.

Unity Rally consists of reciting the City Year pledge and performing PT or physical training. Some of the exercises may include 3-count jumping jacks and culture specific exercises such as power lunges and Front-Side-Back-Side-Front.

Site locations[edit]

City Year serves in 26 cities within the United States, with two international affiliates.[7]

Location State/ Province Founding date
Baton Rouge Louisiana 2005[Note 1]
Birmingham England 2013
Boston Massachusetts 1988
Chicago Illinois 1994
Cleveland Ohio 1996
Columbia South Carolina 1994
Columbus Ohio 1994
Dallas Texas 2015
Denver Colorado 2011
Detroit Michigan 1999
Jacksonville[8] Florida 2013
Little Rock/North Little Rock Arkansas 2004
London England 2010
Los Angeles California 2007
Miami Florida 2008
Milwaukee Wisconsin 2010
New Hampshire[Note 2] New Hampshire 2000
New Orleans Louisiana 2005[Note 1]
New York[Note 3] New York 2003
Orlando[9] Florida 2013
Greater Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1997
Rhode Island[Note 4] Rhode Island 1993
Sacramento[10] California 2012
San Antonio Texas 1995
San José/Silicon Valley California 1994
Seattle/King County Washington 1998
South Africa[Note 5] Gauteng 2005
Tulsa Oklahoma 2013
Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. 2000

*Highlighted entries are international locations

City Year London[edit]

City Year London is a charitable organisation based in London, UK. It specialises in education and community action projects with children and young people in the most deprived communities in London.

City Year London recruits volunteers - known as 'corps members' - aged 18–25 for a year of full-time service in schools as tutors, mentors and role models. Corps members spend four days each week in schools providing academic, emotional and pastoral care in order to improve the attendance, behaviour and attainment of under-achieving children. In return for their service, corps members receive leadership development and professional training to help them find a job after City Year.

City Year’s motto is that 'young people can change the world'. The organisation aims to tackle two of the biggest social welfare issues in the UK: educational under-attainment and youth unemployment.

City Year launched in London during the 2010/11 academic year with 60 corps members working in teams across six primary schools. For the start of the 2011/12 school year City Year had 81 corps members serving across nine schools and today it has 112 corps members serving in teams across 12 primary and secondary schools across London.[11]

Since the most recent general election, City Year London has met with range of MPs, government ministers and, most recently, the Prime Minister David Cameron to champion service opportunities for young people across the UK.[12]

City Year logo.
City Year London.

City Year London was recently awarded a Social Action Fund grant of £300,000 from the Government’s Cabinet Office, which has gone towards the expansion of City Year’s service across London and the development of three new school partnerships from September 2012.[13]

Leadership Development[edit]

As part of their year of service, City Year London corps members benefit from a year-long leadership development programme which is delivered by the organisation’s corporate sponsors every Friday. Leadership development days help corps members to develop skills and competencies to be successful in securing a job after City Year. This includes CV and interview guidance, work-shadowing, networking sessions, public speaking and presentation skills training. Each corps member is also matched with a corporate mentor.[14] 95% of corps members who graduated from the 2011/12 City Year London programme successfully secured a place in education or employment after City Year.[15]

IVR Evaluation[edit]

An evaluation of City Year London’s work in schools was conducted by the Institute for Volunteering Research in November 2012. It found that corps members were having a positive effect on the attainment, behaviour and focus of school children and that teachers valued the help and support they received from corps members in the classroom. The evaluation also highlighted a boost in confidence and the employability of City Year corps members who have completed the programme.[16]

The London Corps[edit]

City Year London recruits a diverse corps to reflect the diversity of the children it works with. City Year is currently recruiting 18-25 year old corps members from colleges, universities and youth centres across London and the rest of the UK. The organisation recruits a diversity of young people into the corps based on: socio-economic status, eligibility for Free School Meals, type of secondary education (e.g. public or private), educational attainment, gender and ethnicity. Approximately 60% of City Year London's current corps members are graduates while 40% are college leavers.


The Private Equity Foundation helped to bring City Year from America to London in 2010. The Chief Executive of the Private Equity Foundation, Shaks Ghosh visited City Year in Boston in 2009 and was so impressed by its ‘double benefit’ model that she donated £1 million to help start up City Year in London. The Private Equity Foundation is City Year London’s Lead Founding Partner.[17]


City Year's funding comes from a variety of sources. In FY 2012, 27% of the organization's operating revenue came from AmeriCorps, 25% from foundations, 18% corporations, 15% School districts and other local government grants, 8% individual donors, and 7% in-kind sources.[1]


While he was still Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton visited the Boston site, and that experience partly inspired him in his first term as President to create the AmeriCorps national service program as a way to fund City Year and other similar organizations. All AmeriCorps members earn an education award while performing service, which can be used to fund education or training or to repay student loans. City Year is now a member of the AmeriCorps network along with thousands of other non-profits. The money received via AmeriCorps allows City Year to support its corps members annually, which includes awarding them with a Segal Education Award upon completion of the program.


City Year was started with private funding and still maintains many of its efforts via gifts from organizations as National Leadership Sponsors and Team Sponsors.

National Leadership Sponsors are the companies—and the people—increasing the service and scope of City Year as its closest strategic and premiere partners. In addition to their time, expertise and ideas, National Leadership Sponsors invest at least $1 million in City Year over two years. City Year National Leadership Sponsors include:Aramark, Bank of America, Cisco Foundation, Comcast, CSX, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Timberland, T-Mobile, WalMart and Deloitte.

The program also began sustaining its corps members via public funds during the George H.W. Bush administration. City Year also receives support from local and national non-profits, such as the Case Foundation, which brought City Year to Washington, D.C., in 2000.kuay


Public schools districts partner with City Year to bring teams of corps member to work in schools. Though it varies from district to district, schools are responsible for financing a portion of the cost of maintaining a team of City Year corps members in service.

Care Force[edit]

The Care Force division of City Year engages employees of different corporations in community services events. Net proceeds from Care Force events are revenue of the City Year organization.[18]


City Year is a five-time winner of the Social Capitalist award from the Fast Company Monitor group.[19] City Year has also has had positive reviews from the Princeton Review and the U.S. News & World Report, and has earned four stars from the organization, Charity Navigator.[20]


City Year has been criticized by some for accepting a sponsorship from the soft drink manufacturer PepsiCo. Because City Year Corps members are role models to many children, this partnership might encourage greater consumption of soft drinks, which some see problematic in light of the current national woes with childhood obesity.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b City Year Baton Rouge and New Orleans were founded as a single site, City Year Louisiana, in 2005. The sites separated in 2011 forming two separate affiliates.
  2. ^ The affiliate is named after the state. The site is located in the city of Manchester
  3. ^ The affiliate is centered around New York City not state.
  4. ^ The affiliate is named after the state. The site is located in the city of Providence
  5. ^ The affiliate is named after the country it is located in. The site is located in the city of Johannesburg


  1. ^ a b "2011 City Year". City Year. 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  2. ^ a b "43 Entrepreneurs Who are Changing the World: City Year". The Fast Company. 2007. 
  3. ^ a b BBC News London. "Pupil mentoring scheme launched across London", [BBC Online], September 27, 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2013
  4. ^ "City Year Launches Ten-Year Strategy to Build the Nation's Urban Graduation Pipeline". City Year. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "City Year Launches Ten-Year Strategy To Build The Nation's Urban Graduation Pipeline". PRNewswire. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Robert Balfanz and Lisa Herzog Unfulfilled Promise: The Dimensions and Characteristics of Philadelphia's Dropout Crisis
  7. ^ "Where You'll Serve". City Year. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  8. ^ "Lead letter: City Year will add mentors to the schools". The Florida Times Union. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "National mentoring service to aid struggling Orange schools". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "National mentoring organization comes to Sacramento schools". Capital Radio. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  11. ^ City Year London News. "City Year school partnerships for 2012-12 announced", [City Year London], Retrieved on 10 August 2012
  12. ^ City Year London News. "City Year CEO reaction to PMs announcement into 'decade of social action'", [City Year London], Retrieved on 10 August 2012
  13. ^ City Year London News. "City Year awarded £300,000 of Government's Big Society fund", [City Year London], Retrieved on 10 August 2012
  14. ^ Good practice. [1], [Children & Young People Now], Retrieved on 11 April 2013
  15. ^ Leadership. [2], [City Year London], Retrieved on 10 August 2012
  16. ^ City Year London Programme Evaluation. "Evaluation of City Year London Programme: End of Year 1 Report", [Institute for Volunteering Research], Retrieved on 10 November 2012
  17. ^ Private Equity Foundation press. "PEF leads launch of new London youth charity", [Private Equity Foundation], Retrieved on 10 August 2012
  18. ^ "Care Force". City Year. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  19. ^ "45 Entrepreneurs Who are Changing the World: City Year". The Fast Company. 2008. 
  20. ^ "Awards and Recognitions". City Year. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  21. ^ Soumerai, Stephen B.; Gillman, Matthew W. (2007-07-21). "City Year's unhealthy corporate ties". Boston Globe. 

External links[edit]