Since 2005, the AmeriCorps program at Emerson Park Development Corporation (EPDC) has provided low-income youth in East St. Louis with opportunities for college scholarships through community service. The program was started due to an increasing number of young people in the region interested in continuing to vocational and post secondary education.
The EPDC chapter of AmeriCorps is funded through YouthBuild USA’s program. AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools,public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. The program strives to place young adults into service positions where they learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop an appreciation for citizenship.
“We focus a great deal on serving the seniors and veterans in our community,” says Vickie Forby, executive director of EPDC. “Our youth volunteers scrape and paint senior porches, weatherize homes, and work at the local veteran’s shelter.”
AmeriCorps participants are youth ages 16 to 24 who are part of EPDC’s Tomorrow’s Builders YouthBuild Charter School or the YouthBuild Construction Trades Training program. The program has included more than 65 participants at a time since its inception.