Coronavirus News: More college students considering gap year of service

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- COVID, online learning, protests, plans for a gap year and the desire to make a difference have more young people considering a year of service instead of going back to school full-time.

AmeriCorps' roots date back to the depression when it created jobs that helped the nation.

"Putting them to work through service, tapping their energy and helping to heal the racial division in our country, working to do the contact tracing, the public health work, the conservation work, the education work, it's a win-win-win," said Alan Kahzei with AmeriCorps.

Right now, 80,000 young people work nationwide in AmeriCorps programs, but there is a bill in the Senate for more money that would triple those jobs.

AmeriCorps service is actually paid. Jobs in the New York area pay about $24,000 per year - which is not bad for something that makes a difference and builds a resume.

Selma Nunez combined her work with FoodCorps - part of AmeriCorps with her job at PS 42 in the Bronx. She has taught kids 3-11 years old the power of growing good food.

Now, after two years with AmeriCorps, she's working on her masters.

"Trying to inform children about what they were eating, where it was coming from, and looking at the local procurement aspect of it and connecting with local farmers," Nunez said.

"Increasingly young people are saying 'Do I want to go to college online and start my freshman year online, I'd rather do a gap year or service year or something productive,'" Khazei said. "Service programs bring people together from different backgrounds and you actually have an experience where you learn that our diversity is our greatest strength."


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