A successful scholarship program designed to reward student volunteer service, now in its second year at Colorado State University, is providing 200 UCAN Serve scholarships, up from 67 offered last year. A commitment of 88,800 hours will earn students $260,342 in scholarships and save organizations $1,526,472 in staffing costs.
The AmeriCorps program, provided through the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement, is continuing to benefit the university and the community through UCAN Serve scholarships, which are awarded to students who commit to performing at least 300 hours of service per year in Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Award amounts are $1,000 for 300 hours of service, $1,250 for 450 hours or $2,363 for 900 hours of service over two years. Last year, Colorado State students earned $71,500 in scholarships for more than 26,000 hours of service while non-profit organizations saved $476,266 in staffing costs.
"It is great because it’s designed to support internships and fieldwork experiences leading to careers in the common good," said Carla Turner, assistant director of service-learning and AmeriCorps in the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement. "Students who go into that line of work often are not going to be well paid when they get into that career, and they’re often not paid at all for their internship experiences. The AmeriCorps scholarship program gives them some sort of sustenance while they’re in the internship, allowing them to focus on the service they’re providing."
Students earn AmeriCorps scholarships for services such as tutoring, mentoring and student teaching with K-12 students; participating in service-learning activities; unpaid internships that strengthen the community or meet public health and safety needs; or their own volunteer work.
Rachel Rambo, a senior majoring in psychology, earned one of the first AmeriCorps scholarships when she led an alternative spring break trip to the Native American reservation in Pine Ridge, S.D., last year. This year, she is the AmeriCorps assistant coordinator, and she also continues to work with the reservation by organizing fund-raisers and donation drives in addition to being a site leader again. She said the experience altered her perspective completely and made service a more important part of her life.
"The AmeriCorps scholarship was a wonderful opportunity for me because I was already putting the time and energy to service," Rambo said. "It’s reciprocally positive for absolutely everyone involved."
Colorado State joined the AmeriCorps program through the Colorado Campus Compact, which distributes federal funds. Colorado State pays a fee to join the compact and has access to scholarships and other services. Last year, students performed 1,106 more hours than they had committed to serve.
"It is a small way in which the federal government says ‘Thank you’ for going into this extremely important career where the rewards are not necessarily going to be financial," Turner said.
Contact the AmeriCorps office at 491-2181 for more information about the AmeriCorps program.