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Here to Serve, Here to Stay

October 21, 2012

By Laura Boles, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Belaire High School

Hey y’all!

Kate’s post from a month ago, “You’re Moving Where?” resonated with a lot of Corps Members, myself included. I heard that question almost every time I told people I was going to be travelling from Toronto, Ontario – where I spent my four years of college – to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

What I’ve noticed, now that we’re actually down here, is that I’m not being asked, “You’re moving where?” (because, obviously, we’ve already made the move), but rather, “You’re doing what?” I’ve also discovered that, after I quickly summarize the role of City Year in schools in Baton Rouge and across the country, people ask follow-up questions, including questions about the history of City Year in Baton Rouge.

Having stumbled through an answer to that question, I thought it might be helpful – for me, for my fellow Corps Members, and for our curious readers – to see a breakdown of City Year Louisiana, and how City Year Louisiana became two separate sites, City Year Baton Rouge and City Year New Orleans.

So, here it goes!

August 2005: Hurricane Katrina hits the gulf region, leaving approximately 275,000 households homeless. Many survivors move to Baton Rouge—or farther—to start over.

City Year had already been working to establish a site in Louisiana, but after Katrina the process was accelerated so that City Year could get boots on the ground—Timberland boots, to be exact—as soon as possible.

December 2005: City Year opens its 17th site, City Year Louisiana.

The initial Corps Members, who were all alumni, began serving in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans communities in January 2006. The focus of that first year was on providing disaster relief.

September 2006: City Year implements the “Whole School, Whole Child” program in Baton Rouge and begins service in New Orleans.

The Whole School, Whole Child curriculum focuses on creating a positive and welcoming learning environment and to provide academic support to teach students the skills they need to succeed.

September 2007: City Year begins serving in New Orleans schools.

September 2008-2011: City Year Louisiana continues in-school service in two cities, but as one site.

June 2011: City Year Louisiana recognizes that the impact would be greater if it was split into two sites, City Year Baton Rouge and City Year New Orleans.

July 2011: City Year Baton Rouge is officially founded.

August 2011: Diplomas Now is introduced to three schools.

Diplomas Now combines the efforts of City Year, Communities in Schools, and Talent Development to work with high-need schools to provide integrated student support as well as tutoring, mentoring, monitoring, and engagement activities.

July 2012: City Year Baton Rouge wins its first “Best of City Year” Award.

And … THE SEVENTH FULL-YEAR CORPS BEGIN THEIR YEAR OF SERVICE.

The motto of the first Louisiana Corps was “Here to serve, here to stay.” We’re still here, and we’re still serving – and that’s a beautiful thing.

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