College Students Find Professional Experience and Confidence Through Summer Positions Impacting Multnomah County

posted Sep 11, 2012, 4:12 PM by Unknown user
(Portland, Oregon- August 28, 2012) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the summer unemployment rate for those ages 16-24 was 17.1%, more than double the national unemployment rate of 8.3%. To help fight youth unemployment, Oregon Campus Compact (ORCC) recruited students from its statewide membership of colleges and universities to serve as AmeriCorps Summer VISTA members. These positions offered college students the opportunity to build their resume, strengthen leadership skills, and impact the community while earning a living stipend and AmeriCorps education award.

For over eight weeks, 38 Summer VISTAs served more than 13,500 hours with Ninth Grade Counts, a collaborative of the All Hands Raised Cradle to Career Partnership. Ninth Grade Counts provides a network of summer enrichment programs to academic priority rising ninth graders throughout Multnomah County. Summer VISTAs supported these programs by preparing students for success in high school and beyond. Throughout the summer, they recruited students, created classroom curriculum, provided direct academic support, and facilitated college and career tours.

"I can't think of any way I would rather have spent my summer. I thoroughly enjoyed our David Douglas Ninth Grade Counts students,” said one Summer VISTA. “I worked with a superbly competent, collegial, totally receptive, and supportive teaching and administrative staff, and best of all, I loved contributing to an effective program to help students in my community enter high school with greater confidence and likelihood to succeed."

Summer VISTAs finished their positions last week, but gained skills and experiences that will benefit them throughout their academic and professional careers. After serving, 95% of the VISTAs surveyed expressed interest in a future position where they impact social or economic inequity and 95% indicated increased ability to solve problems, take initiative, and work with diverse populations. Reflecting on the experience, one Summer VISTA said, “This summer, I worked with a great team, put in more effort, and gained more experience and confidence than I have at any other job in the past.”

This was the fourth year of the Summer VISTA program, a partnership between All Hands Raised (formerly the Portland Schools Foundation), the Corporation for National and Community Service, and ORCC.

Research shows that the program has had a clear, positive effect on high school credit attainment (Student Data Report, 2011). In 2009, rising ninth graders who participated in the program accumulated more high school credits than nonparticipants. Next year, the first cohort of Ninth Grade Counts summer program students will graduate from high school. Partners involved believe it will demonstrate sustained positive impact and will contribute to increases in Multnomah County’s high school graduation rate.

ORCC is proud to have offered this opportunity to students in its statewide membership of colleges and universities. Motivated by the belief that students have the power to change the world, ORCC activates higher education toward student participation in civic life. As the only statewide organization working with private, public, four-year, and two-year institutions, ORCC embraces its unique position to strengthen Oregon’s narrative of service and leadership.

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.

To learn more about Ninth Grade Counts or the All Hands Raised Cradle to Career partnership, contact Jeanie-Marie Price, Vice President of Communication at All Hands Raised, or 503.234.5404.