…if we are all in this together.

“Ubuntu ngumuntu ngamantu.” I am a person through other people. I am because you are. Without each other’s existence, there is no other.
- Zulu Proverb

City Year Academy – Ubuntu Night

12:09 a.m. — an interesting time to lie awake at City Year Summer Academy. The subway trains outside roll and grumble under Boston’s midnight sky while I stare upwards at a little painted constellation on my dorm room ceiling. Broken shapes of stars and crescents refer to a previous existence in this space and I wonder who that person could be. I also wonder about the thoughts of my fellow Team Leaders who may be just as restless as I am, thinking about the great social change we strive endlessly to achieve.

PT at City Year Academy 2014

But this restlessness does not sprout from a place of negativity. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. From the myriad of inspiring individuals who shared their life’s work at Ubuntu Night this evening came a huge groundswell that resonated in everyone. Music, dance, and story were intertwined in a night of introspection; of deep appreciation for those who were transparent about their past hardships; of inclusive community and a genuine enjoyment of the presence of each other’s humanity. The restlessness I feel is rooted in inspiration to get out into the world and serve our high-need communities.  After the night’s festivities were finished, everyone paired up for an Ubuntu Walk, a time to share and establish a beautiful, beloved community through our life stories. Through these walks, we embrace our sense of self in other people, and others’ selves in us.

It doesn’t always appear that we idealists are knee-deep in ambitious action, with faded white shirts a half size too big, or Timberland boots scuffed and scattered with paint. Yet to dismiss us for being frumpy — as a fellow Team Leader from City Year Boston put it this afternoon — is a mistake. We wear our work on our sleeves, and these small details are milestones in our service and represent days upon days of hard work. Great minds think alike and work together, and this idealistic mindset is one that bears no mind in looking like 80’s park rangers strolling around Northeastern University’s campus. For we are united together in one common goal: serving the greater good and, ultimately, changing the world.

Opening Ceremony – City Year Academy

Spirit. Discipline. Purpose. Pride. These are the four governing ideals that each and every City Year member seeks to embody in their service. As I sat and took in our opening ceremony earlier that day, I noticed some things. Over a thousand (yes, 1,000) people crowded into Matthews Arena to become inspired; to delve into a deeper level of thinking. As we all listened to Charlie Rose speak to the inequalities of our world and the urgency of effective social justice, I had a particular vision. My vision revealed thousands more senior corps members, young aspiring individuals filling every single seat of that arena, whooping and hollering in the most positive camaraderie. I envisioned teams of idealists representing all major cities in the United States and multiple international sites. I envisioned Charlie Rose speaking with a sense of admiration because we had already reached one million students; he challenged us to reach two million, three million. Call it wishful thinking, but to not try is to automatically fail. As the opening ceremony wrapped up, an enormous roar filled the arena, a roar of committed adults sacrificing their time to invest in the spirit of our youth. The best part of my vision is it can happen. And it will, if we are all in this together. As we complete our service years, we lay a foundation for future corps members to stand upon. In order for our service to be fully realized, it takes everyone to give back to their country, to invest in education, and to believe in the humanity that exists in everyone.

- Adam Conger, City Year Sacramento Team Leader

Bill Clinton: Volunteering Can Unlock Young People’s Potential

Please read President Clinton’s incredible Op-Ed Article from the London Evening Standard which is shared below, or click here to see its original posting.  We truly appreciate the President’s continued support of City Year and the idea of National Service. 


In 1991, shortly after I announced my candidacy for President, I received an invitation to visit what was then a small Boston-based programme called City Year.

Two young Harvard graduates, Michael Brown and Alan Khazei, had found a way to create a new kind of citizen service programme that brought together bright, passionate young people from every background to work together on the pressing problems facing their communities. The afternoon I spent with the group was not just inspiring, it confirmed for me what I had seen time after time—that young people everywhere were yearning to make a difference, and that if we gave them new opportunities to serve, we could unleash their enormous potential for good.

I believed that citizen service would breathe new life into our democracy and revitalise the spirit of civic action. So on the campaign trail, I began talking about national service and the three big ideas behind it: opportunity, responsibility, and community. It became one of the biggest applause lines at every single campaign stop. Americans were hungry for it.

After I was elected, I worked with Congress and the brilliant Eli Segal to create AmeriCorps. The idea was simple. If young people invested in their country, their country would invest in them. We would provide grants on a competitive basis to non-profit organisations like City Year to serve as the delivery system, offer young people a small living stipend, and, after they completed their year of service, give them a scholarship to help them pay for college or pay off student loans. As established by the pledge that each AmeriCorps volunteer recites, the focus would be on “getting things done”.

Since it was founded just over two decades ago, more than 830,000 people have served in AmeriCorps, contributing more than one billion hours of service. Together, those AmeriCorps alumni have earned more than $2.4 billion to put toward their higher education. Many of them have been the first in their family to go to college. AmeriCorps has made that dream possible.

On the day of President George W Bush’s inauguration, I asked him to continue to support AmeriCorps, and he did. In fact, he expanded the programme by 50 per cent. Today, President Barack Obama continues to find new ways to sustain the role that service plays in our civic identity.

The idea of serving others does not belong to one political party or one nation. The values that are the foundation of AmeriCorps are universal. City Year volunteers work to improve lives in Little Rock, the site of my Presidential Library, just as they continue to empower people in Johannesburg, where we established City Year South Africa at the invitation of President Mandela in 2005. I’m also proud City Year is growing in the UK.

In this interdependent world, we all have a vital stake in helping other people succeed. Giving all our young people the opportunity to be active citizens of their countries and the world beyond will help us to do that, and in the effort, to shape a future we can be proud to share.

Bill Clinton is founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the US. Adapted from his foreword to Citizen Power: Unlocking Young People’s Potential through Voluntary Service, published by youth and education charity City Year UK:cityyear.org.uk


City Year Sacramento Alumni Continues His Career in Local Education

Peter Goritz - City Year Sacramento FY14Name: Peter Goritz

Undergraduate: Biology – UC Davis

Graduate: Teaching Credential and Masters in Education – UC Davis

School Site (City Year): Fern Bacon

Team Sponsor: AT&T

Current Position: Masters Student and Student Teacher at Health Professions High School in SCUSD

What was the largest challenge you faced during your time with City Year?

My largest challenge was not taking my work home with me. I struggled at first to separate myself from my students’ problems and often brought those problems home with me. I had to work at putting my students’ problems aside and not letting them affect my time outside of work. I had to take time for myself and make sure my needs were met so I could be there for them the next morning.

City Year Sacramento - Peter GoritzHow did your year of service prepare you for your current career in education?

My year of service taught me the importance of relationships. Having relationships with your peers is important for the work you accomplish but the most important relationships within the field of education are those you form with your students. In my credential program I have heard many student teachers talk about how their students don’t like them or aren’t interested in what they are teaching. City Year taught me that getting to know your students and where they come from can help you immensely in the long run. You can use what you know to plan curriculum relevant to them, show interest in who they are and what they care about, and you can begin to see and know why your students are having an off day.

How has City Year changed your perspective on education or how you currently run your classroom?

City Year taught me that classroom management is just as important, if not more important, as curriculum. It also taught me that forming relationships with your students is the most effective way to get them interested in learning. If your students are interested in learning they are far more likely to behave and listen in class. You also have to know your students’ tendencies within the classroom and how your teaching style works with those tendencies. City Year helped show me that a classroom is a collection of 30 individuals whose needs all need to be met on a daily basis. The biggest of these is for them to feel safe within the classroom, both mentally and physically.

Kevin Johnson, Jim Balfanz, & Peter Goritz - City Year Sacramento Opening Day 2013Why did you do a City Year?

By the time I realized I wanted to move into the field of education it was too late for me to apply to credential and masters programs. I then went looking for something that would allow me to see the education system first hand. Throughout college I had pushed community service to the side and City Year provided me a chance to provide service, not just for the school, but the community as well. City Year provided me with an in depth look into the workings of a school and the teaching profession.  It also gave me the freedom to partake in community service outside of the school.

If you could give one piece of advice to the FY15 Corps before they start their year of service, what would it be?

My one piece of advice would be to take time for you. You can get caught up in your work and wanting to improve your students but you need to take time for yourself and make sure you are able to continue doing your job.

Happy Mother’s Day

ImagePhenomenal: My mom has worked as a farmworker for over 25 years. Although the work that she does may be considered by many as degrading, she performs her work with the upmost integrity and to the very best of her ability. Of all the people I have ever worked with, I have never been prouder than working alongside her picking cherries and peaches in Oregon and California. Throughout her challenging life she has remained a HARD worker, incredibly self-reliant, wonderfully warm and kind, and beautiful in every way. I can only hope to be half the phenomenal woman she is.  #HerImpact

Remember Your Roots我的母亲 (Remember Your Roots): 我的母亲 (My Mother) is the woman who has shaped the core of my being and continues to be a source of inspiration in my life. This is my mother, who has never forgotten about her Chinese heritage, her family here and in China, and her gratitude for the people in her life. Her perseverance and commitment to the prosperity of her family, even through the hardships of being an immigrant, working full-time and still caring for her family, continue to remind me of all that I am grateful for and where I come from. #HerImpact

EnduranceEndurance: Growing up, my mom showered my brother and I with love, taught us the value of hardwork and dedication, and made every moment a teaching moment. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized all that she went through to make our lives so easy. She put all of her time and effort into us that she had no time for herself. As a middle school teacher, she invested in her students during the day and then came home to take us to practices, make dinner, and help us with homework. She never took a break, never quit on us, and she instilled these ideals in us as well. It is her drive, her strength, and her influence that has made me into the person I am today. Her endurance is my inspiration. #HerImpact




Supportive: My mom is the person that knows me the best. And has always been there for me, pushing me to go after my dreams.  No matter how big they may be. While also raising me to be humble, respectful,  and educated. There’s no way I would have ever made it this far in my life without her. #HerImpact




Kindhearted: My grandma Lena came from Portugal and worked hard to provide for my family. She would take care of anyone she came in contact with and gave and would give her only dollar to someone in need. She took care of me and my sisters and taught us how to love and care for people no matter what the situation. She also taught me to always love people because you never know the battle they are fighting. #HerImpact



Limitless: My mom has had a huge impact on my life. She has always supported me to do what makes me happy. Her love and support has given me the opportunity to see things I never would have been able to otherwise. #HerImpact

On June 4th, 2014 we will continue to honor the incredible work of our leading women and celebrate the increasing impact of female leaders in philanthropy and in their communities. Come join us for City Year Sacramento’s Ripples of Hope Dinner at The California Museum! For more information, click here.

Month of Service with PG&E

On April 26th, 2014, volunteers from many organizations came together in honor of National Volunteer Month. To read more about Comcast Cares Day in Sacramento, check out this earlier blog post: http://cityyearsacramento.wordpress.com/tag/comcast-cares-day/

McKinley Park Service Day

While Comcast Cares Day was occurring at Ethel Phillips Elementary School,  another project not too far away was also taking place to help beautify one of the most popular parks in Sacramento, McKinley Park.

Located at Alhambra Blvd and McKinley Blvd in East Sacramento, McKinley Park boasts a pond, a large playground, tennis courts, and a bountiful rose garden. While the park is known for it’s beauty, it takes a lot to keep it that way. City Year Sacramento partnered up with PG&E, who sponsored the day of service, in honor of their Month of Service to engage PG&E employees and volunteers and The City of Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department. The Parks and Rec Department is understaffed and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to utilize volunteers to manage general upkeep. At 8:00 am, the City Year corps members who were leading the service projects arrived at the park to finish the preparation efforts for each individual project. Service Day with PG&E and Starbucks The corps members met up with the Parks & Rec team to gather shovels, rakes, gloves, and other important materials to successfully complete all tasks for the day. Once all materials were gathered, sorted, and the leaders were prepped, we were lucky to be joined by Starbucks, another City Year Sacramento sponsor, who helped to energize our team and the PG&E volunteers by kick-starting our day with some amazing coffee and tea! We were all ready to start at 9:30am when all 50 of our volunteers had arrived.

Starbucks was not the only food provider to excite and energize the volunteers. Through the many, vibrant Service Day tweets, Old Soul Co., located in downtown Sacramento, engaged @CityYearSAC on Twitter. Tim at Old Soul generously donated four large boxes of muffins and cookies to the City Year Sacramento projects both at Ethel Phillips Elementary School and at McKinley Park! While social media was bustling with pictures, service experiences, and the new #CYSAC Vines, hard work was being done throughout the East Sacramento park.

Service Day - PG&E and City Year SacramentoCorps Members and PG&E volunteers were mixed into groups of about ten to paint, rake, garden, pick up trash, and rejuvenate the beautiful community park. Many positive reactions were relayed later from both PG&E and CY volunteers hoping to share the joys and ripples of the day. For instance, a man running by the park noticed Group 1 shoveling dirt to clear the sidewalks and asked about how he could get involved. When a PG&E volunteer pointed the man in the direction of City Year, he recognized the uniform and thanked the volunteers for their work.

Being a presence in the Sacramento community does not end when leaving one’s respective school. A service day like Saturday’s brought the corps together for hard work, fun, and perspective. Thank you to PG&E, Starbucks, and Old Soul for helping us help Sacramento.

Maddie Perlmutter - City Year Sacramento - Sacramento Region Community Foundation Team

City Year Joins Comcast in Worldwide Service Day

City Year & ComcastApril 26th, 2014, was a monumental day for volunteerism across the nation and throughout the world.  In honor of National Volunteer Month, Comcast and NBC Universal have taken it upon themselves to make an impact in their community.  For the past 13 years, Comcast has been organizing Comcast Cares Days.  They bring thousands of employees, family members, friends, and volunteers together to transform local schools, parks, community centers, and so much more.  This year, City Year Sacramento was a fellow partner in Comcast Cares’ Project at Ethel Phillips Elementary School, right here in Sacramento.

City Year was able to work alongside Comcast volunteers to build planter boxes, paint the blacktop, construct benches, and add colorful murals around the campus. City Year helping out at Comcast Cares Day  Hank Fore, a Regional Senior Vice President for Comcast, was a driving force for the day of service at Ethel Phillips.  He was supported by many Comcast executives, including Comcast Executive Vice President and City Year Board of Trustees Member, David Cohen, who was able to join in on one of the murals as well as one of the gardening projects.  The strong interest in giving back and improving neighborhoods shared by City Year and Comcast truly allowed them to #MakeChangeHappen for the students and community at Ethel Phillips.

At the end of the day, Dan Hernandez, Principal of Ethel Phillips Elementary, expressed extreme gratitude to all the volunteers.  He spoke of the endless smiles that would be held on the faces of their students come Monday morning. City Year Sacramento with David Cohen and Doris Matsui This thought alone was enough reward for the 100+ volunteers who used their Saturday as an opportunity to serve others.  An even more impressive reward was the thought that this day was being rippled out all over the world.  This project in Sacramento was just one of 800+ projects happening in 39 different states, the District of Columbia, and 11 different countries. There is no way to measure the great impact of the 85,000+ volunteers who came out for Comcast Cares Day 2014, making this event the largest single-day corporate volunteer effort in the nation.

San Francisco State University Grad Becomes a Part of Something Bigger

Aracely Diaz - City Year Sacramento - Fern Bacon Middle SchoolName: Aracely Diaz

College: San Francisco State University

School Site: Fern Bacon Middle School

Team Sponsor: AT&T

  • What made you apply to City Year?

I was about to graduate San Francisco State when I decided to apply to City Year. My Jumpstart site manager had been strongly suggesting that I apply for another AmeriCorps program, being that he is a Teach For America alumnus. I really appreciated the work I did with Jumpstart, but didn’t quite see myself as a teacher. The emphasis City Year placed on near-peer mentoring was a major pull. I also saw that video on YouTube where they talk about the graduation pipeline. When my friend Tarryne told me she was applying, I felt like the universe was pushing me in that direction so I went all in. Tarryne is currently serving in Boston, while I find myself serving closer to home.

  • How did your experience with Jumpstart prepare you for City Year?

My experience with Jumpstart was incredible. It truly made me feel a part of something that was bigger. When I was taking classes at my community college, the work of sociologist Annette Laureau had a big impact on me. Jumpstart gave me the opportunity to close in and feel like I was making a serious impact in promoting early literacy. I didn’t feel ready to walk away from something so powerful. Jumpstart definitely embedded a sense of commitment to service in me. I walked away with loads of experience that has helped tremendously this year, from learning classroom management to working on diverse teams.

  • What was your major at San Francisco State University?

I graduated San Francisco State with a degree in Sociology.

  • What are two or three things you learned from your experience at SF State or City Year?

I learned patience. Lots and lots of patience. It was really interesting to live through a lot of the theories I learned about in school. I have always had a deep interest in education reform and inequalities in our existing system. So, it was interesting to see it before my eyes, and see these experiences transcend my lived ones. It was also interesting to see how theories about knowledge manifest themselves in education and what validates an experience as knowledgeable. The most useful thing I learned while in City Year and at SF State would be effective communication skills, both as an academic and as someone teaching academics. City Year has taught me how understand and effectively communicate to whatever population I am addressing.

  • What is the typical day at Fern Bacon?

The typical day at Fern Bacon is far from typical. I spend my mornings preparing for service, then spend the day in the classroom. I spend lunch catching up with the students that aren’t in my classroom. Then, when it’s time for the afterschool program, I conduct my small group interventions and see where the day continues to lead. The best part of the day is always the unexpected, from dodge ball games to finding the opportunity for meaningful conversations with my students.

  • Is there a particular student you feel you have connected with this year?  What positive changes have you seen in this student?

There are a handful of students that I have felt particularly connected to. One always seems to stand out in particular. This student has helped me grow so much. He started out the year lacking confidence in his intelligence and his capabilities. This was seen inside of the classroom and outside as well. There was a particular moment where I noticed this and brought it to his attention. We talked about it and since then, he has improved his test scores and grades. I’d like to think he’s changed outside of the classroom as well. He takes ownership of his mistakes, which is something he used to not do at the beginning. I have a short story he wrote me at the beginning of the year, where he talks about becoming a better student thanks to my help. I keep it around to keep me motivated and remind me why it is I am taking this year on.

  • What are your plans following City Year?

I hope to further pursue my education. Ideally, I would like to get my PhD in a field that is heavily centered around research. I see myself as an academic. Ultimately, my goal is to be a professor and continue on the quest of becoming an educator.

  • What is your advice for others considering applying to City Year?

Jump in! But, seriously, jump in! I couldn’t give better advice than to just do it and continue to do it. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. It has been challenging. But, they call them growing pains for a reason. The challenges expose the immense growth one does during this process. City Year is a true testament of character, perseverance, growth and strength. It truly highlights the resiliency of its corps members as well as the students they serves. So, seriously, jump in! And once you’re in, go with the flow.