June 2015 Associate Board Spotlight: City Year

CharityScenes recently sat down with Rachel Gerds, current co-chair of the Associate Board, and Corey Young, current staff liaison to the board. We were delighted to hear all the exciting things going on at City Year Chicago now. If you’re interested in joining a board that is growing and changing, now is a great time to check out City Year Chicago!


CharityScenes: Tell us about City Year and the Associate Board – what does the organization do and what is the role of the Associate Board?

Corey: is an education-focused organization dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. City Year partners with public schools in 26 urban, high-poverty communities across the U.S. and through international affiliates in the U.K. and Johannesburg, South Africa. Diverse teams of City Year AmeriCorps members provide high-impact student, classroom and school-wide support, to help students stay in school and on track to graduate from high school. The Associate Board is committed to supporting and promoting City Year and its AmeriCorps members by generating financial support, promoting City Year's brand, and providing mentorship and other forms of assistance to AmeriCorps members.

CharityScenes: Can you talk about the reach of your organization and plans for growth?

Corey: Today, roughly 50% of the 1 million students who drop out each year come from only 12% of schools. City Year has worked with Deloitte to devise a long term impact plan (LTI)  to reach as many of these students as possible in these schools. For example, in Chicago we currently serve in 21 schools, but at scale we would be in about 39 schools with a corps about double the size it is today. As the organization scales, so will the Associate Board. The Associate Board is currently strategizing to better align with City Year's LTI, as a result, we are looking to grow the board from about 30 members to about 50 by the end of the year.

CharityScenes: What is it like to be on the Associate Board?

Rachel: I’ve been on the board for five years after falling in love with the organization at an event. I met some of the corps members and was really impressed by their passion and poise, and wanted to do something to support them. Along the way, I’ve also met lots of new people, have used the board as a great networking tool, and have been able to stretch myself professionally.

CharityScenes: Can you elaborate on that? How has the board helped you develop professionally?

Rachel: At BMO, I manage digital content, which involves creativity and strategic planning. Through fundraising and event planning on the board, I’ve been able to use these skills with a different application. I’ve also developed my leadership skills as the co-chair. Similarly, I take on a mentorship type role when I meet with corps members looking to begin a career in marketing after their year as a volunteer.

CharityScenes: What types of fundraising and event planning have you been doing?

Corey: The Associate Board hosts a number of events throughout the year. Each fall, they host their signature event, the Back to School Soiree, but they also host smaller networking and social events such as a night at the Laugh Factory and trivia night.  Looking forward, we hope to borrow an idea from the City Year New York Associate Board and host lunch and learn type of events. They have had great success and there seems to be a demand for that in Chicago as well. The Associate Board meets bi-monthly throughout the year, as well as attends a portion of the Site Board Annual Retreat, among other City Year events.

CharityScenes: What are you looking for in prospective board members? And what will board members get out of their experience?

Rachel: We’re looking for some young professionals to fill a few gaps in skill set of the current board and we'd like to find some more connections with donors, media, etc. That said, we’re primarily looking for members who are passionate about the cause and can make some time to give back.  Our board is pretty well organized, so prospective members looking to take on a leadership role and gain a new network will be happy on our board.  For me, just being involved with this cause and giving back has been very rewarding.

CharityScenes: How do I sign up?!

Corey: We accept applications on a rolling basis and confer new members on a quarterly basis. Check out www.cityyear.org to learn more.