City Year’s founding was fueled by the energy, ideas and resources of the private sector. Today City Year is a public private partnership—supported by grants from the Corporation for National and Community service, school district partnerships, and private philanthropy from individuals and families, foundations, and corporations. Our corporate partners continue to play a critical role in City Year’s ability to help students and schools succeed, and Microsoft is at the heart of this work.
City Year recruits talented, idealistic young adults for a year of full-time service in urban, high-poverty schools to help students stay in school and on track to graduate from high school, ready for college and career success. Diverse teams of City Year AmeriCorps members partner with public schools to directly support academic achievement and student engagement in and outside of the classroom—tutoring students one-on-one, serving as an additional resource for teachers, and leading after school programs and school wide initiatives to improve student achievement and build a positive school culture.
We are proud that Microsoft has been partnering with us on this work for more than 15 years. Just like Microsoft, we seek to achieve results that are supported by data. It is because of these results that we know that we are making a difference. Our corps provides our students and schools multiple, consecutive years of support to help students catch up and keep up. We’re helping to accelerate student learning. For example, City Year analyzed national Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) data, and found that last year students City Year worked with in grades 3-9 had an average growth rate of 1.4 times what was expected in literacy and math. This would not have been possible without the commitment of sponsors including Microsoft, one of our original in-kind partners.
Microsoft began partnering with City Year in 1999, generously donating $5 million in software and helping to build the foundation of our organization. Since then, Microsoft has invested directly in our work in high-need schools. To date, Microsoft has donated more than $23.4 million through financial funding and in-kind support. Through the YouthSpark initiative, Microsoft invests in two areas of our work, the schools and our mathematics curriculum. It supports City Year AmeriCorps teams serving in four schools in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago and Seattle. Every team Microsoft sponsors is part of the Diplomas Now collaboration among City Year, Johns Hopkins Talent Development and Communities In Schools, which is helping to turn around some of the nation’s most troubled schools. Microsoft’s support helped generate improved results in student attendance and course performance, in addition to providing engaging service opportunities for Microsoft employees.
The company has also invested in City Year’s mathematics curriculum, helping our program team build a research-based instructional framework and provide professional development trainings for corps members. As a result, the number of students who will receive math interventions will increase from 8,500 to 14,000 during the 2014-2015 school year. This year, Microsoft armed these teams with Surface tablets to help support these crucial math initiatives.
Microsoft’s support makes so much possible. It helps us to deepen our impact, scale our work, strengthen our math program, and produce remarkable results for the children and communities we both serve.
We couldn’t agree more with Lori Forte Harnick, Microsoft’s General Manager of Citizenship and Public Affairs: “Our future success as a society, across the U.S. and throughout the world, will largely depend on the knowledge and capacity of today’s youth to drive innovation and address increasingly complex global challenges. An investment in youth reflects our belief in the potential and promise of the world’s 1.4 billion young people.”
Michael Brown is CEO and Co-Founder of City Year, an education-focused nonprofit organization that mobilizes idealistic young people for a year of service in high-need schools and promotes the concept of voluntary national service as means of building a stronger democracy.
This year 2,800 City Year AmeriCorps members are helping to address the nation’s high school dropout crisis and turnaround low performing schools by serving as full-time tutors, mentors and role models in high-need schools in 25 U.S. cities. City Year also has affiliates in South Africa and the UK. Through its national initiative, “In School and On Track: A National Challenge,” City Year aims to significantly increase the urban graduation pipeline in America.