College Students Dodge Unemployment and Find Meaningful Positions

posted Jul 10, 2012, 2:06 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Aug 1, 2012, 4:36 PM ]
During a summer where it’s harder than ever to find summer employment, college students are finding professional positions mentoring at-risk youth in Multnomah County.

For the fourth year, college students are serving as AmeriCorps Summer VISTA Members. Summer VISTAs provide academic support to at-risk rising ninth graders to prepare them for success in high school and set them on a path to graduation.

For VISTAs, this summer opportunity is one in a million. College students have few summer employment options in the current economic climate. As VISTAs, college students secure a living stipend and AmeriCorps education award as well as a meaningful experience to build their resume, impact the community, and strengthen leadership skills.

“I just completed the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Concordia and as graduation drew nearer, I worried about finding a summer job. The Summer VISTA AmeriCorps program is providing me a great opportunity to interact with students and make a positive impact on the public school system, even when employment opportunities are so scarce. My specific job is allowing me to combine two of my passions--theater and teaching!” – 2012 Summer VISTA Member serving with Lunacy Stageworks 

The 2012 AmeriCorps Summer VISTA Team

 Through Ninth Grade Counts, 1,300 academic priority rising ninth graders across Multnomah County will participate in Ninth Grade Counts summer enrichment programs hosted by school districts and nonprofit organizations.

Ninth grade is an important year for students; in fact it is one of the most pivotal moments in a students’ education (Break Through Collaborative). Research shows that academic indicators can predict which ninth graders will likely dropout before completing high school. Supporting students’ transition into ninth grade is key to starting high school prepared and on a path toward graduation.

Early research shows the program has a clear, positive effect on high school credit attainment (Student Data Report, 2011). In 2009, rising ninth graders who participated in Ninth Grade Counts accumulated more high school credits than nonparticipants. Partners involved with the project are excited to continue supporting ninth graders and look forward to evaluating the data from the first cohort of rising ninth graders who will graduate high school in 2013.

ORCC is proud to have recruited 40 talented VISTAs from its statewide membership of colleges and universities. Motivated by the belief that students have the power to change the world, ORCC drives higher education to organize student participation in civic life. As the only statewide organization working with private, public, four-year, and two-year institutions, we embrace our unique position to strengthen Oregon’s narrative of student service and leadership.

The Summer VISTA program is a partnership between All Hands Raised (formally the Portland Schools Foundation), Ninth Grade Counts, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and ORCC.

To learn more about ORCC, the Summer VISTA Program, and how to become an ORCC member, contact McKenzie Miller, Communications Coordinator at or 503.406.3572.