AmeriCorps seeks 500 volunteers to help children through Energy Express

AmeriCorps is now accepting applications for summer positions with Energy Express, a program administered by the West Virginia University Extension Service that helps approximately 3,000 West Virginia youths improve reading skills and stay well-nourished each summer.

The annual initiative is an award-winning, eight-week program offered in rural and low-income West Virginia communities. By helping children entering Kindergarten through sixth grade maintain reading skills, Energy Express helps them overcome the “summer slide” that occurs when youths fall behind academically during the summers in between school years.

According to Terri Collier, the academic success and literacy specialist with the WVU Extension Service and director of Energy Express, the program makes a tangible impact on the lives of thousands of West Virginia youths during the summer. In 2015 alone, participating children and other community youth were served more than 10,000 meals, while 74 percent of participants maintained or increased reading achievement levels.

“For more than two decades, Energy Express has provided fundamental support for thousands of West Virginia children,” said Collier. “The energetic individuals who serve at our sites are helping to ensure our state’s youths are learning, eating well and having fun in a safe, secure environment during the summer.”

Applicants may serve through AmeriCorps as mentors or community coordinators and must be 18 years of age to apply. Energy Express mentors must be college, or college-bound, students who are willing to help enhance children’s interests and skills by developing and implementing reading-related activities based off of weekly themes. Mentors are also tasked with promoting the children’s nutritional well-being. Energy Express community coordinators recruit volunteers to assist Energy Express children during reading, writing, art, drama and non-competitive recreation activities. Community coordinators also involve the community and family members in the participating children’s learning. Both the mentors and community coordinators complete a community service project based on the needs of the community in which they serve.

In return for their 300 hours of service, AmeriCorps mentors and community coordinators receive a $1,850 summer living allowance and a $1,210 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award valid for up to seven years to pay for college tuition or loans.

Applications for both positions are available online at energyexpress.wvu.edu, or by calling 304-293-3855. The selection process begins Mar. 1. Applications are accepted until all positions are filled.

Energy Express is a program under the leadership of WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program. This AmeriCorps program is funded, in part, by grants from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and Volunteer West Virginia. Volunteer West Virginia encourages West Virginians of all ages and abilities to be involved in service to their communities.

Based on the success of Energy Express participants and the unique aspects of the program, the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University named Energy Express program one of the nation’s best summer learning programs in 2009.

For more information about Energy Express, visit energyexpress.wvu.edu, or call 304-293-3855.