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5/31/2018 - Jackson, Miss.

Mississippians who sign up to be a part of the America Reads - Mississippi (ARM) AmeriCorps program have a heart for service. It is this heart for service that attracts them to the program that provides them with the opportunity to serve through two avenues: providing school-day and after-school tutoring in reading for students in Kindergarten through third grade and promoting volunteer service within the community by recruiting others to assist with service projects through the program year.

With joint oversight from the Institutions of Higher Learning and Volunteer Mississippi, ARM collaborates with three public universities, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, to administer the program statewide.

"The America Reads - Mississippi program makes a difference by helping students improve reading skills, strengthening communities through community service and increasing the number of certified teachers in Mississippi," said Ronjanett Taylor, ARM State Director. "As role models, our members also instill a love of service in the students they tutor."

The 2017-2018 ARM AmeriCorps class will join other AmeriCorps members from programs across the state on Monday, June 4, at 10:00 a.m. at the Jackson Convention Complex for the Celebration of Service. Volunteer Mississippi will host the annual event.

For 2017-2018, 100 ARM AmeriCorps members have recruited 1,823 volunteers who have served 1,503 hours assisting with national service days such as 911 Day of Remembrance, Make a Difference Day, MLK Day of Service, and Read Across America Day, along with other local school and community projects.

Held in April, Global Youth Service Day, provided an opportunity for ARM members to join forces with recruited volunteers to implement or support projects in each region of the state:

  • ARM JSU Corps members assisted with the Comcast Cares Day project for Stewpot Community Services, giving the grounds and facilities a much-needed facelift and engaging Stewpot and area youth in the project. Members, students, and adults from the community completed several projects to beautify the Stewpot facilities and grounds, including painting in the children's building and the Opportunity Center, planting flowers/shrubs, removing debris, installing a walkway, planting and weeding the garden, repairing the chicken coop, organizing and cleaning the Clothing Closet and stocking shelves and cleaning the Food Pantry.
  • ARM MSU Corps members at Coffeeville Elementary School cleaned an outside area, planted flowers, installed bird feeders, painted the picnic area, and added mulch to the playground area at the Coffeeville School District and Community Walking Track. The Coffeeville Mayor and Board of Aldermen supported the efforts by donating funds and loaning equipment to the members.
  • ARM USM Corps members at Hawkins Elementary School in Hattiesburg engaged students in Earth Day craft projects, including a discussion on keeping the planet healthy and how students can help, such as using less water for showers and watering lawns, as one first-grader pledged to do.

Since the program's inception in 1998, more than 4,700 ARM Corps members, who gave a year of service and modeled the volunteer spirit, have tutored an average of 58,250 struggling readers before, during and after school. ARM members have initiated local community service projects and recruited 346,107 volunteers, who gave 803,962 hours for schools and communities to meet local community needs.

Regional Life After AmeriCorps Training and Service Celebration events will be held:

  • JSU ARM: Friday, June 8, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., JSU Student Center Ballroom, Jackson State University campus, Jackson
  • MSU ARM: Friday, June 22, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Location TBA
  • USM ARM: Thursday, June 28, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Location TBA

After the completion of 1,700 service hours and a successful program year, a member receives a Segal Education Award to attend a state university and community college to fund higher education. Seventy percent of the Corps plan to attend college to become certified teachers. At the celebration events, members will also take the Continuation pledge to "Continue to Get Things Done" beyond the year of service.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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