TNOYS has launched its first-ever AmeriCorps program aimed at scaling youth-adult partnerships with young people with lived experiences within the seven social service systems that TNOYS works in which include homelessness, foster care, juvenile justice, mental health, education, workforce, and victim services. The program will provide young adults with lived expertise with professional development and employment opportunities at seven TNOYS member organizations across Texas, which will serve as host sites. Alongside our member organizations, TNOYS is excited to also host an AmeriCorps member on our team.
Young adults ages 18 and older are encouraged to apply for this opportunity and can learn more here about how to apply.
With its AmeriCorps program, TNOYS joins a select few organizations that are creating innovative AmeriCorps programs – our program is recruiting youth and young adults that have lived expertise in one of the seven social service systems and come with diverse life experiences. The TNOYS AmeriCorps program seeks to center people with lived experiences because these individuals are the ones who are closest and most impacted by systems, but also have the power to make the most change to them. The young adults that are selected for these placements are not required to have job experience or training – they will gain those during the program – but should have a willingness to use their lived expertise to serve current system-involved youth, have a high school diploma or GED, and ultimately a passion to learn more and make an impact in their communities.
At their host sites, AmeriCorps members will serve a minimum of 1700 hours over a 10-month period or an average of 40 hours per week. The AmeriCorps members will work with their respective host sites to provide near-peer support to youth and young adults ages 14 through 25 receiving services at host sites. Participants will hold the title of Youth Support Specialist AmeriCorps Member and will provide training to the youth and young adults to help them gain knowledge on resume building, career opportunities, life skills, improve their positive social skills, and increase their employability to list a few of the goals from the program. Additionally, all AmeriCorps members will deliver one-on-one career and secondary education exploration, job coaching, goal setting, and will help develop youth’s professional and technical skills. AmeriCorps members will also have the opportunity to provide life skills training, which will focus on the fundamentals a youth needs to know to successfully transition into adulthood.
The AmeriCorps program is a reality with gratitude to OneStar, the Texas State Service Commission, which has awarded TNOYS a three-year grant to fund the program. The TNOYS AmeriCorps program will help advance TNOYS’ strategic work on youth-adult partnership and support its mission to strengthen services and support for Texas youth and young adults to overcome challenges and achieve healthy development. Basing its approach on proven research, which has found that peer-based models are beneficial to systems-involved individuals with outcomes like stronger relationships and improved resiliency, satisfaction, and outcomes, TNOYS is proud to center young people with lived expertise at the core of its program.
Peer-based programming has also been shown to positively impact the person that’s delivering the services, which is why TNOYS hopes our AmeriCorps members build confidence in their skills and gain a more positive outlook for their future as a result of their service. The TNOYS AmeriCorps program provides a unique opportunity to engage young adults who have lived experience with homelessness, foster care, and other system involvement in the delivery of services to other young people who are in similar situations. Not only would TNOYS AmeriCorps provide for meaningful placement of these young adults at youth-service organizations, but it would provide a structure through which they could support one another and through which TNOYS could support them as they begin their careers. With the AmeriCorps program, TNOYS continues its seminal work to build supports and services that help youth as they are transitioning into adulthood.
Additionally, TNOYS is committed to equity standards and has chosen to compensate participants at the higher end of the typical AmeriCorps pay range. The decision aligns with a core view of TNOYS, in which young people with lived expertise should be involved in the process of making changes to the systems that impact them and compensated for their time accordingly.
“The fruition of our AmeriCorps program is an immensely proud moment for TNOYS. With our innovative approach to the program, we are making sure young people with lived experiences have the opportunity to use what they have learned throughout their lives and give back to other youth and young adults along with gaining valuable life skills themselves. I’m incredibly proud and appreciative of the work that the TNOYS team and youth leaders, our wonderful organizational partners, AmeriCorps and OneStar, and everyone else who’s been involved, has done to bring this trail-blazing program to life.”Fedora Galasso, TNOYS Executive Director
TNOYS is excited to partner with seven of its member organizations that promote youth engagement and youth- adult partnership within youth service systems. Presently, only current TNOYS member organizations are being invited to become host sites. The seven member organizations participating in the inaugural TNOYS AmeriCorps program include:
- CIS Coastal Bend (Corpus Christi) – founded in 1986 by a group of business, education, and community leaders concerned with the school’s dropout rates in our community. The founders believed the dropout rate could be reduced by delivering and coordinating the delivery of campus-based social services to potential dropouts.
- Connections (New Braunfels) – founded by a group of community leaders in 1981 to provide a safe and secure alternative to the “streets” for homeless, abused, or at-risk youth.
- El Paso Center For Children (El Paso) – their mission is to empower youth and families to brave adversity and conflict through constantly evolving, innovative programs in order to co-create a brighter future.
- Harris County Resources for Children and Adults (Houston) – their mission is to support, enhance and advocate for the safety and well-being of children and adults in Harris County.
- Jonathan’s Place (Dallas) – they provide a safe, loving home and specialized services to children who have been victims of abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
- Parks Youth Ranch (Richmond) – founded in 2011 to provide emergency shelter, counseling, and life-changing services to abused and neglected youth ages 7-17.
- Promise House (Dallas) – founded in 1984, they work to prevent chronic homelessness in North Texas.
“This program is truly going to impact the lives of the members, organizations, and individuals that will be involved in the program. This unique opportunity to support individuals in need facing challenges similar to what a TNOYS AmeriCorps member has previously experienced is a game-changer. The member will have the opportunity to support these organizations as they develop and improve the programming offered to their service population, offering the lens of lived experience.”
Tiona Moore, TNOYS Director of Partnerships
TNOYS will provide host sites with program and technical support and training and oversee the management of the AmeriCorps program along with hosting an array of events, activities, and trainings for participants and host sites. Additionally, TNOYS will provide tools and resources, best practices and capacity building support, and have dedicated staff to assist with the program through its entirety.
To learn more about the TNOYS AmeriCorps program or learn how your organization can join as a host site please reach out to Tiona Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.