I first became aware of AmeriCorps while I was in high school and I participated in an after school program that helped teens with failing grades raise their grades. The people that came to my school to tutor those students were employed by AmeriCorps and I did not think much of it at that time but I became interested in AmeriCorps after I began my first year of college. I discovered that many of the tutors at my high school were also going to college and several of them became my good friends.
After transferring from community college to university, I decided that I wanted to do more research on AmeriCorps and there was one question that I wanted answered. That question was how does AmeriCorps promote and influence Civic Intelligence? In order to answer this question I will first answer the question what is Civic Intelligence? After I have answered this question, I will explain what AmeriCorps is and how it promotes and influences Civic Intelligence. “Civic intelligence…is a type of intelligence, one with a speciﬁc focus; it can be used to explore and invigorate a ﬂexible and powerful competence that goes beyond the traditional notion of intelligence (which is typically equated to what IQ tests measure) in several important ways. Civic intelligence is a type of intelligence that focuses on the betterment of society as a whole, not just on individual aggrandizement. Moreover since it is a capability of society as a whole, its manifestation is collective and distributed throughout the population.” (Schuler)
There are three separate sectors of AmeriCorps, the first is AmeriCorps State and National. It is the largest of the three AmeriCorps programs and it “provides grants to local and national organizations and agencies, including faith-based and community organizations, higher education institutions, and public agencies” (1). Those organizations use the funds to enlist volunteers and training those volunteers to be prepared for being placed with their supervisor. “AmeriCorps State and National members engage in direct service activities, such as after-school tutoring or homebuilding, and capacity-building activities, such as volunteer recruitment, for the organizations they serve. After successfully completing their term of service, AmeriCorps State and National members may receive an Education Award of up to $5,325.” (1) In other words AmeriCorps State and National will give someone a scholarship for up to $5,325 if they complete the contract that AmeriCorps gives them.
The Second is AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). “The National Civilian Community Corps may be called on to respond to any Federal or State disaster including fires, floods, earthquakes, oil spills, mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, or terrorist attacks” (2). The way I understand it the NCCC is similar to the Red Cross in the aspect that they travel to disaster areas and help the disaster victims clean up and rebuild the disaster zone. Training for NCCC members includes CPR and first aid. Because the NCCC is a branch of AmeriCorps it is a congressionally funded organization.
And the third is AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). “VISTA is an anti-poverty program created by Lyndon Johnson's Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as the domestic version of the Peace Corps” (3). This branch of AmeriCorps creates jobs for people that feel that they can contribute significantly to the war on poverty. VISTA is also a congressionally funded organization having been incorporated into AmeriCorps in 1993.
AmeriCorps promotes and contributes to Civic Intelligence not only by providing scholarships to the volunteers but by providing tutors to elementary, middle, and high schools, and by providing volunteers to disaster struck communities, like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. AmeriCorps also contributes to Civic Intelligence by providing employment opportunities to those in underprivileged zones.
The descriptive framework suggests six dimensions, in which organizations and movements that demonstrate civic intelligence are likely to differ from those that do not. Each of the dimensions is listed below with a brief note on how Americorps can be viewed by the dimension.
Orientation: AmeriCorps was formed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton under the National and Community Service Trust Act. I believe that the idea was that people would be helping other people to improve their community.
Organization: AmeriCorps is organized and funded by the government and they give people scholarships to become tutors, disaster relief volunteers, and job recruiters.
Engagement: AmeriCorps helps people improve their lives by providing tutoring for children in school, providing disaster relief and also helping rebuild communities after a disaster has occurred, and by providing employment opportunities in poverty stricken areas.
Intelligence: From my own personal experience with AmeriCorps in my home town of Tonasket WA., there has been fewer incidences of high school dropouts and more high school students graduate and go to a college or university.
Products and projects: AmeriCorps NCCC has been working in New Orleans helping the local community members rebuild the city and clean up the hazardous wast left behind after Hurricane Katrina. As of 2010 it is still an ongoing project, but the workers have refurbished more than 9,500 homes, rebuilt 1,450 new homes and completed over 52,000 damage assessments.
Resources: AmeriCorps is a government funded organization.
1. "AmeriCorps." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2 May 2011. Web. 22 May 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AmeriCorps>.
2. "National Civilian Community Corps." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 31 May 2011. Web. 01 June 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Civilian_Community_Corps>.
3. "AmeriCorps VISTA." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 26 Oct. 2010. Web. 01 June 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AmeriCorps_VISTA>.
Schuler, Douglas. "Liberating Voices! A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution." Public Sphere Project. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <http://www.publicsphereproject.org/patterns/pattern.pl/public?pattern_id=1>.