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Corps Member Spotlight: Serving a Second City Year.

November 30, 2011

“The City Year Corps Member has the opportunity to apply for a second year of Service.  Often times, these are team leader roles that help guide first year Corps Members through their year of service.  In this weeks Corps Member Spotlight we highlight Venessa Christiansen who has done a second year of service as a Team Leader for the Young Heroes Program. We asked Venessa what the best part of her work was and what keeps her compelled to serve.”

Vanessa Christiansen

Senior Corps Member, Team Leader for Young Heroes Program


For me, working every day next to people who I know are passionate and idealistic about making things better in Miami-Dade County is something that I think you just can’t beat. There are not many places that you can find great energy and enthusiasm seven days out of the week. Most of my time is spent helping the team get the hang of the ropes for the program. It is interesting and sometimes quite challenging to lead people who are all so different.

City Year for me was a way to figure out how to put into action what I believe. Like the fact I’ve always wanted to help change the South Florida communities for the better-City Year was the perfect place for it. Miami is a great place, completely different from Broward County (where I lived before) it is vibrant and full of hidden gems. I have learnt many things about myself so far, mostly that I have what it takes to be a leader.


Corps Member Spotlight: Young Heroes Team

November 22, 2011

“Young Heroes is a Saturday leadership development and community service program for 6th-8th graders that is run by City Year corps members. Young Heroes participants learn about the social issues in their community and then work together to solve those problems through hands-on community service. This month, we’ll take a dive into the corps member role and highlight the role of those serving on our youngheroes team.  Our first corps member spotlight is a Miami local and cirruculum coordinator for the young heroes program.”      

Michelle Nguyen

21 years old

From: Miami, FL

Role: Curriculum Coordinator for Young Heroes Program.  

As the Curriculum Coordinator, I am responsible for creating and designing interactive learning activities that will educate middle school students about key social issues and inspire them to be agents of change in their community. While most of my time is spent drafting up proposals, schedules, and facilitation guides that will help implement these activities on our Young Heroes Saturday Events, my favorite part about my job is meeting the middle school students. It is so inspiring to meet such energetic and committed kids!  


I was originally motivated to join City Year, because I was fascinated by how an organization like City Year can successfully operate on such a large scale, while still offering grassroots, personable and impactful service to local communities. I have been trying to figure out how City Year manages to do so, and I believe the key is the emphasis on its corps members. Corps members are the way that City Year keeps its connection in the communities it serves, because each corps member is sent into a school with the primary mission of building real relationships with the students, administration, faculty and local community.  


I am glad that I have been given the opportunity to be a part of this organization, because I am learning so many new things about my community. Miami is an incredibly diverse and vibrant city, and this exposure has inspired a new passion for the city that I never had before.

Starbucks Service Day: Operation Rebuild for Heroes at Home

November 18, 2011

In celebration of Veterans’ Day, a team of 50 volunteers from Starbucks, City Year Miami, and the local community joined Rebuilding Together Miami Dade to participate in Operation Rebuild for Heroes at Home, a nationwide program developed by the Sears Holding Corporation and Rebuilding Together to renovate the homes of military veterans and their families.  Based on votes from Facebook members, Sears awarded the Miami Dade affiliate of Rebuilding Together a grant of over $6,000 to repaint and refurbish the home of a local resident, in appreciation of his lifelong commitment to serving others.  

Volunteers helped to restore the home of Amos Jordan, 74, who served in the United States Air Force for 26 years. Today Jordan lives with his granddaughter and two great grandchildren in Richmond Heights, where he is an active member of his church and local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post.  Jordan also finds the time and energy to feed the homeless two nights a week, drives the elderly to doctor’s appointments, prepares holiday baskets for the less fortunate, and, along with fellow VFW members, delivers presentations on his service to school children.


“It feels good” said Jordan when asked about seeing so many volunteers come together to give back to a fellow community member, “it feels very good.”

After a mere four hours, the formerly dilapidated house looked cheerful and bright with a new coat of peach paint and a garden filled with colorful flowers. The bookshelf that the volunteers built to display Jordan’s military awards added a sentimental touch that moved both Jordan and the volunteers. The event was truly a special way to celebrate Veterans’ Day.

2011 ‘Investing in Education’ Corporate Breakfast hosted by Ackerman Senterfitt

September 9, 2011

Thursday September 8th marked City Year Miami’s 3rd Annual Corporate Breakfast.  The event is held as a way to gather with Corporate and Community leaders to discuss the importance of investing in education specifically in Miami-Dade.

SI Carvalho speaks at the breakfast

MDCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho

Leading this morning’s gathering, Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho highlighted the immense impact that City Year is having on the drop out in the district. As a long time City Year Miami supporter, Carvalho emphasized the necessity of having a City Year Team at the school level and cited the major successes City Year has already shown in raising student performance.  He urged business and community leaders to support education by joining MDCPS in investing in education through City Year.


Board Chair Brad Meltzer with David Sampson, Marlins President and Adam Grossman VP, Miami DolphinsRep. Erik Fresen with School Board Member Carlos Curbelo

Pictured Above: (Left) Board Chair Brad Meltzer with David Sampson, Marlins President and Adam Grossman VP, Miami Dolphins (Right) Rep. Erik Fresen with School Board Member Carlos Curbelo 

Over 100 Corporate and Community Leaders were able to attend the event making the 2011 ‘Investing in Education’ Breakfast the largest City Year Miami has had to date. A great Opinion Editorial article written in the Miami Herald discusses the breakfast here, and also highlights the critical importance of City Year’s work.

A Powerful Start for City Year Miami

August 24, 2011

This week marks the start for City Year Miami’s powerful work amongst Miami-Dade County Schools.  As the largest expansion in City Year History, the new corps of 135 has nearly doubled since last years 82, which means more positive impact for underserved schools in Miami-Dade.  This year alone, City Year Miami’s Corps Member impact will reach hundreds of students and provide them with more than 229,000 hours of mentoring, tutoring, and after school programming that will serve to keep them in school and on track and help to increase the graduation pipeline. 

Corps Members are Always Ready!


City Year Miami’s 2012 Corps is a vibrant and excited group of young people that stand on the shoulders of their predecessors’ on-going progress to narrow the high school dropout crisis inAmerica.  Through their organizing, planning and execution of civic leadership programs, physical service projects, and in school curriculum, City Year Miami’s 2012 corps will instill a positive culture of preparedness and leadership amongst Miami-Dade’s students that will be seen for years to come and will be a pinnacle investment within the communities they serve!

Beyond our Rails: CSX Service Day at Myrtle Grove Elementary

August 22, 2011
Myrtle Grove Elementary
Myrtle Grove Elementary – Photo by Aquaus Kelley

Saturday August 20th was a day ‘on’ for roughly thirty volunteers from both City Year Miami and CSX at Myrtle Grove Elementary.  Volunteers engaged in physical service at 8:30 a.m. powerfully beautifying the campus.  Projects included a garden beautification project, two natural drainage community area projects, and the building, staining and renewal of nine benches. Many thanks go out to everyone at CSX and Myrtle Grove Elementary for allowing this beautiful community service project to improve the community and learning environment of hundreds of students!


For more photos of projects visit our flickr at .

City Year Miami and CSX!
City Year Corps Member and CSX Volunteer Working a Garden Project. – Photo by Aquaus Kelley



Help the City Year Miami Civic Leadership Conference Program Grow!

August 15, 2011

Help City Year Miami win the Inktel Direct Innovation Grant! Inktel Direct would like to serve as a catalyst for community non-profits such as City Year to help drive social change and address today’s pressing issues. To vote and show support, ‘like’ our image below at .


City Year Miami’s Civic Leadership Conferences help to promote, inspire, and train the civic leaders of through building corps members civic awareness and sense of community. Civic Leadership Conferences happen once a month in various locations throughout Miami-Dade and provide a space for corps members to connect, show unity, and discuss pressing issues such as education, violence, and poverty.