The Iowa Campus Compact AmeriCorps Program will provide four Drake students with extra incentive to volunteer within the Des Moines community this school year. Ruth Appiah, Alyssa Frakes, Andrew Brice and Maria Yilma were chosen to represent Drake in the program, which is partnered with the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The program, which is offered to students at 10 public and private colleges and universities across the state, provides members with a $1,131 or $1,415 scholarship to apply toward eligible tuition or student loans following the successful completion of 300 or 450 hours of service during the academic year.
The goal of the Campus Compact Program is to increase the rate of college students volunteering in Iowa while supporting local communities and promoting an ethic of service, service-learning and civic engagement among students.
The Drake students involved have decided to approach the 300-hour goal in a variety of ways, which vary from commitment to one organization to involvement in a variety of campus community service-related events.
“There are three main types of service through AmeriCorps,” said senior Brice, one of the Drake representatives. “The first is capacity building, which includes providing support to organizations that complete service. Another type is direct service, for example, reading to kids or a similar activity. The third kind of service is fundraising for a nonprofit organization. I’ve decided to devote a lot of my hours to capacity building service.”
Brice has been working with Everybody Wins! Iowa, which promotes literacy by facilitating a reading and mentorship program for children throughout the Des Moines metro.
“I work between 10 and 15 hours a week with Everybody Wins!, doing a lot of office work and helping coordinate volunteers for the program,” Brice said. “This organization is great because it’s trying to do so much good in Des Moines to increase literacy. The positive mentor aspect of the program is great for kids, it provides both an educational experience and a role model while getting kids excited about reading.”
Frakes, a junior, is also dedicating the majority of her hours to one organization in dedicating her time to the GEAR UP program at Lincoln High School. The program is focused on getting high school juniors and seniors onto college campuses to experience and get a better idea of college life.
“Through the GEAR UP program, I have the opportunity to do direct service by tutoring students to help them get their grades up, as well as working with them to coordinate their college visits and complete applications,” Frakes said. “It’s rewarding to work with high school students, and an eye-opener for me because I am from the Des Moines area but had a different experience than many of these students.”
Yilma and Appiah are taking a more varied approach to accomplishing their 300 hours of service by volunteering their time for nonprofit and community service-oriented organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, Blank Children’s Hospital, Alternative Spring Break, Habitat for Humanity and Everybody Wins!
“For me it’s really rewarding to be paying it forward by giving service to other people and making a difference in their lives,” Yilma said.
The students acknowledge that 300 hours seems like a daunting task at times, but the challenge of completing the program keeps them focused on the service.
“As a college student, time is very crucial,” Appiah said. “Although volunteering 300 hours isn’t anything outrageous, it takes a lot of effort to complete these hours. I’ve set up my mind to complete the hours and am moving one step at a time, volunteering here and there, to reach my goal.”
The scholarship at the end provides the extra incentive to these students, challenging them to spend more time in the community, which may cut into time spent at internships and part-time jobs.
“This opportunity has motivated me to get more involved in volunteer opportunities that I might not have done because I don’t have enough time,” Frakes said. “It’s been great to get out there in the community by volunteering hours that I might not normally be taking advantage of, or passing up for paid opportunities.”