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City Year Providence: helping to develop tomorrow’s leaders
By Jim Sanzi / October 30, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

At a school where City Year corps members work directly with students and teachers, a 10-year-old girl was thrilled to be a part of the program – but disappointed that she was too young to serve as a corps member herself. So, she took matters into her own hands. In fact, she was so persistent in her desire to get involved that City Year developed the Young Heroes program, a service learning opportunity for middle school students. Fast forward a bit to that same young girl at 18 years old – when she served as a corps member at City Year before going on to earn a college degree that prepared her for work as a school psychologist in an elementary school served by City Year Providence. Fast forward again, and now that young girl’s daughter is following in her mother’s footsteps, also serving as a City Year corps member.

Another Providence resident who was active in the organization’s Young Heroes program now is a Providence councilwoman. These are the stories that Jennie Johnson, executive director of City Year Providence, shared at a recent luncheon for members of our 1916 Society, the Foundation’s legacy society made up of generous donors planning to leave an estate or future gift to the Foundation.


Founded 30 years ago, City Year is based on the premise that young people in service can help tackle some of our country’s most pressing challenges. City Year Providence focuses its efforts on education. Today its corps members, who are 18 to 25 years old, are working in three elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school, providing “near peer” support to students, helping them develop leadership skills and realize their full potential. Corps members also establish relationships and partnerships with parents and teachers.

“We try to fill the gaps, the supports schools just can’t provide. And we build bridges between parents and schools. We really do all have to be in this together and have the courage to do things differently if we want to see different results,” Jennie explains.

As she sees young people applying to be Corps members who earlier were served by City Year, Jennie states emphatically, “Young people truly can make an impact if they come together around a common goal.”

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