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10/11/2018 - Jackson, Miss.

Former AmeriCorps members, staff, their families, and supporters will gather tomorrow and Saturday in Jackson to commemorate 20 years of serving together and carrying out the mission of national service: "to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier" and to "get things done." The celebration will include representatives of the many faces of impact from the program, including a student, a family, a community and a life.

Serving students, schools, and communities across Mississippi since 1998, the America Reads – Mississippi (ARM) AmeriCorps program recently reached a milestone as it begins its 20th year as a national service program. Awarded through the Corporation for National and Community Service and Volunteer Mississippi, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) serves as the legal applicant for the program that focuses on improving the literacy skills of K-3rd grade students through the full-time service of AmeriCorps members as reading tutors.

"America Reads-Mississippi has had a tremendous impact over the past 20 years," said Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education. "Reading is the foundation on which all other learning is built. By helping students learn to read, the Corps members provide an invaluable service to the students and teachers, while also developing a love of serving others. All those involved, including the program leadership, partnering universities, Corps members and schools, should be proud of all they have accomplished in the past two decades."

Over the past 20 years, 25 partners, 241 schools, 4,841 Corps members, have served 59,468 students, making a difference in the lives of children and communities across the state. ARM has managed the program in conjunction with partnering universities, which currently include Jackson State University (JSU), Mississippi State University (MSU), and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), with three additional former partners at Alcorn State University (ASU), Delta State University (DSU), and the University of Mississippi (UM).

ARM AmeriCorps members are at the heart of this "service as a solution."

"When I see the drive and determination of the ARM staff to help us help students every day, it is so encouraging," stated Lishawn Brown, second year ARM member/alum at Dana Road Elementary. "I have been self-employed for 20 years which is a long time to be out of the public sector but deciding to give 2 years of service in AmeriCorps has been one of the best decisions of my life."

This year, ARM is launching a campaign to reconnect with Corps alum, enhance program sustainability, and evaluate the impact of service on the educational and professional pursuits of Corps members.

For more information or for ARM Alum to reconnect, contact Ronjanett Taylor, ARM State Director, at rtaylor@mississippi.edu.

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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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