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AmeriCorps now recruiting 510 members for summer reading and nutrition program to help West Virginia youths

West Virginians 18 years or older can now apply for paid positions as AmeriCorps members for the award-winning West Virginia University Extension Service Energy Express program.

The annual initiative is an eight-week reading and nutrition program offered in rural and low-income West Virginia communities.  Energy Express helps children entering kindergarten through sixth grade overcome the “summer slide” that occurs when youths fall behind academically during the summers in between school years.

According to John Lyonett, WVU Extension Service 4-H Energy Express interim director, volunteer assistance during the summer helps to make lifelong impacts on children who participate in Energy Express activities. In 2016 alone, participating children were served more than 122,500 meals, and 65.3 percent of participants maintained or increased reading achievement levels.

“This program has helped changed lives and provided support for thousands of children since its inception more than two decades ago,” said Lyonett. “By assisting us in the summer, applicants are helping to ensure our state’s youths are learning, eating well and having fun in a safe, secure environment during the summer.”

Applicants may serve through AmeriCorps as mentors or community coordinators and must be 18 years of age by June 9, 2017 to apply.

Mentor positions

Energy Express mentors must be college, or college-bound, students who are willing to help enhance children’s interests and skills by developing and implementing reading-related activities based on weekly themes. Mentors are also tasked with promoting the children’s nutritional well-being.

Mentors must complete a community service project based on the needs of the community in which they serve. In return for their 300 hours of service, mentors will receive a $1,850 summer living allowance and a $1,221 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award valid for up to seven years to pay for college tuition or loans.

Community coordinator positions

Energy Express community coordinators recruit volunteers to assist Energy Express children during reading, writing, art, drama and non-competitive recreation activities. Community coordinators also involve the community and family members in the participating children’s learning.

Community coordinators are also required to complete a community service project based on the needs of the community in which they serve. Community coordinators also receive a $1,850 summer living allowance and a $1,221 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award valid for up to seven years to pay for college tuition or loans in return for their service.

Applications for both positions are available online at  energyexpress.wvu.edu, or by calling 304-293-3855. The selection process begins March 1. Applications are accepted until all positions are filled.

Energy Express is a program under the leadership of WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program. This AmeriCorps program is funded, in part, by grants from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and Volunteer West Virginia. Volunteer West Virginia encourages West Virginians of all ages and abilities to be involved in service to their communities.

In 2016, West Virginia’s Promise—The Alliance for Youth recognized the program as the Red Wagon Award recipient for its commitment to helping West Virginia youths learn and grow through summer initiatives. Based on the success of Energy Express participants and the unique aspects of the program, the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University named the Energy Express program one of the nation’s best summer learning programs in 2009.

For more information about Energy Express, visit  energyexpress.wvu.edu, or call 304-293-3855.



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