SERVE Illinois Newsletter - Spring 2010 


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Spring 2010 Serve Illinois Newsletter [PDF, 914KB]

City of Chicago Chosen for Cities of Service Leadership Grant

While 50 cities applied to receive the leadership grant, the Rockefeller Foundation only chose 10 cities, including Chicago, to receive its $200,000 two-year grants. On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Service Day, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley accepted The Cities of Service Leadership Grant from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Rockefeller Foundation. "I am proud of the high level of volunteerism we already have in Chicago and this grant is going to help take our service to the next level," said Mayor Daley. "By focusing our initiatives on our City's youth and those that need our help the most, we will help to secure a stronger Chicago for future generations."

The ten selected cities will use the funds to hire a Chief Service Officer – a senior city official committed to developing and executing a citywide plan to strengthen volunteerism and target volunteers to tackle their city's greatest needs. Under the grant, a Leadership Committee comprised of state and federal partners, business leaders, residents, community-based service organizations and academic institutions will be formed. The Leadership Committee will work closely with the Chief Service Officer to create a new volunteerism plan for Chicago in order to address key citywide challenges through engaged volunteers.

The elected Chief Service Officer and Leadership Committee will first start by focusing their efforts on expanding programs and resources to support Chicago's ongoing efforts to:

  • Develop out of school time programs to benefit Chicago's youth, especially teens at risk; and,
  • Help residents most affected by the recession get back on the path to economic recovery.

For more information on the Cities of Service Leadership Grant, visit Cities of Services. If your community is interested in becoming a "City of Service," please contact the Serve Illinois Commission at 1.800.592.9896, or visit the official Cities of Services Web site.

To learn more about the Serve Illinois Commission, AmeriCorps National Service or to find volunteer resources, visit and get involved today!


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Message From the Executive Director

Welcome to the Spring Edition of the Serve Illinois newsletter.

In 2010, the Serve Illinois Commission has been working to implement the 2009-2012 Illinois State Service Plan. Your state service plan was developed through an open and public process in which all Illinoisans were encouraged to contribute feedback to the State Plan. Serve Illinois hosted a series of listening sessions in the fall of 2009 and invited all citizens to make public comment. The listening sessions were also promoted through press releases, list serves and Governor Quinn's call to action.

One aspect of the plan that will be implemented this spring is the 1st Annual Governor's Volunteer Service Awards. These awards recognize individual volunteers through a statewide award program to highlight the importance of volunteerism and community service in the State of Illinois. Individual awards will be provided to one Youth (18 & under), one Adult (19 to 54 years) and one Retiree/Senior (55+ years) in each of the Commission's five service regions across the state (Northeast, Northwest, East Central, West Central and Southern Illinois).

Five categories will be given special priority, in alignment with priority areas as defined by the Corporation for National and Community Service: Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Conservation, Health, and Veterans Affairs. Governor Quinn and the Serve Illinois Commission will host a luncheon at the Executive Mansion in Springfield, to honor the 2010 Governor's Volunteer Service Award recipients on April 12, 2010.

To learn more about the Governor's Service Awards and the 2009-2012 State Service Plan, please visit Serve.Illinois.Gov. Visitors to the Web site can also take advantage of the Volunteer Opportunity Portal, a resource for all Illinoisans to use when searching for volunteer opportunities. The portal has over 60,000 volunteer match opportunities in which citizens can serve in their local church, school or community center. Please visit our Web site to learn more about this valuable new tool for volunteerism.

Yours in Service,

Ted Gibbs, Executive Director
Serve Illinois Commission
Office of Governor Pat Quinn

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Message from the Chair

At the Serve Illinois Commission we are excited that the President has included in his FY 2011 budget request, an additional increase to fund 105,000 AmeriCorps members nationwide, and up to $10 million competitive dollars for the Volunteer Generation Fund. Both represent the two "arms" of this state service commission – a fine AmeriCorps*State portfolio of programs that is geographically representative of Illinois, and the volunteer infrastructure-building project we call the Illinois Volunteer Management Network, and its affiliated meetings and conferences. Certainly, Illinois will stand to benefit from these pieces of the Corporation for National and Community Service FY 2011 budget, if approved by Congress.

We are also excited that the City of Chicago was selected as one of the first "Cities of Service" in the nation. Through the leadership of the nation's largest cities and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Cities of Service initiative is launched. The City of Chicago will be hiring a full-time "Chief Service Officer" with the grant they received. Commission staff attended the national training in December, as well as the award announcement in Chicago in January, and is making plans to encourage not just large cities, but towns all across the State of Illinois to participate in being named a "City of Service." By utilizing the platform of Illinois' mayors, the Commission hopes to work with localities to make volunteer service a priority in the culture and a strategy in the community to make a difference in some of our most pressing societal ills.

We all recognize that government alone cannot solve some of the problems we face in Illinois and nationwide. Community problems aren't solved, unless the community is involved. If your community is interested in this initiative, please visit the Cities of Service website, and notify the Commission of your interest.

Thank you, as always, for the good work you do in communities across the Land of Lincoln.

In Service,

Howard Lathan, Chair
Serve Illinois Commission
Associate Director, Chicago Area Project

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2010 MLK Day of Service

On January 18th AmeriCorps programs across the state of Illinois mobilized volunteers to serve in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thirty two programs reported project results to Serve Illinois, engaging more than 1,500 volunteers in total. AmeriCorps programs organized a wide range of projects focusing on issues such as healthy living, literacy, multiculturalism, nonviolence, hunger and homelessness. Governor Pat Quinn also participated in Chicago Cares' Celebration of Service on January 16, with 4,000 volunteers taking part in 40 service projects throughout the city. Over 10,000 service projects in all 50 states took place nationwide for MLK Day.

Illinois LeaderCorps members took an active role in supporting the MLK Day of Service by sharing reflection resources with programs, publicizing AmeriCorps projects, and collecting results at their events. LeaderCorps and Serve Illinois encouraged reflection by providing programs with a variety of excerpts from Dr. King's speeches and questions. Reflection on MLK Day of Service was incorporated by 65 percent of the reporting AmeriCorps programs.

Through written and verbal reflection, volunteers connected with Dr. King's message that "Everyone can be great because everyone can serve." One volunteer commented, "It doesn't matter who you are, you can do your part." One elderly woman, who helped volunteer in her community said, "There are always ways to serve… even by a kind word." On MLK Day, a powerful ethic of service was demonstrated as AmeriCorps members and community members across Illinois came together to serve in honor of Dr. King.

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Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service

Commission Members

  • Howard L. Lathan, Chair, Chicago
  • Rosemary Keefe, Vice Chair, Glenview
  • Jane Angelis, Ph.D., Carbondale
  • Donald Baden, Ed.D., Fairview Heights
  • Andrew Barbeau, Chicago
  • Lawrence Benito, Chicago
  • Julian Brown, Naperville
  • Jocelyn D. Cheng, Chicago
  • Merri Dee, Chicago
  • Judy Donath, Springfield
  • Kathy Engelken, Des Plaines
  • Alvin Goldfarb, Ph.D., Macomb
  • Jill Heise, Chicago
  • John Hosteny, Chicago
  • Nancy K. Jameson, Macomb
  • Christopher Koch, Springfield
  • Michael Mangan, Mt. Prospect
  • Terry Mason, Chicago
  • Bob McCammon, Lake Villa
  • Arlan McClain, Dixon
  • Frederick D. Nettles, Jr., Springfield
  • Mary Kelly Reffett, LaSalle
  • Genita Robinson, Chicago
  • Fred Rodriguez, Ph.D., Western Springs
  • Giraldo Rosales, Champaign
  • Cynthia Sims, Ed.D., Carbondale
  • John Sirek, Chicago
  • Todd Stroger, Chicago
  • Judy Swinson, Centralia
  • Barbara Tubekis, Winnetka
  • James Tyree, Chicago
  • Gloria Verastegui, Gilberts
  • Jody Weis, Chicago
  • Steven S. Wolfe, Glen Ellyn

Commission staff

  • Ted Gibbs, Executive Director
  • Lisa Hooker, AmeriCorps Program Officer
  • Scott Niermann, Volunteer Programs Manager
  • Scott McFarland, Resources & Information Manager
  • Eden Lawson, Graduate Public Service Intern

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Numbers You Should Know

2009 Volunteer Rates Increase

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that both the number of volunteers and the volunteer rate rose the past year. For the period of September 2008 through September 2009:

  • 63.4 million people volunteered, representing 26.8 percent of the population, up from 2008 numbers;
  • The average hours spent volunteering was 52 hours for men and 50 hours for women;
  • The volunteer rate of women increased from 20.1 percent in 2008 to 29.4 percent in 2009, while the volunteer rate for men (23.3 percent) was essentially unchanged;
  • Persons aged 35 to 54 years of age were most likely to volunteer. The lowest volunteer rates found were for those in their early twenties, and those age 65 and older;
  • Among major race and ethnicity groups, the volunteer rate of blacks and whites rose in 2009. Among blacks, it rose by 1.1 percent driven largely by an increase in the volunteer rate of black women;
  • Volunteer rates were higher among those married, parents with children under 18 years old, and those with higher levels of educational attainment, than their counterparts;
  • The organization for which volunteers worked the most hours was most frequently religious (34 percent of all volunteers), followed by educational or youth service-related organizations (26.1 percent);
  • The main activity volunteers performed was fundraising, followed by collecting/preparing/distributing/serving food;
  • Men who volunteered engaged in general labor, coach or supervise a sports team, or provide professional or managerial assistance. Female volunteers were most likely to fundraise, collect/prepare/distribute/serve food, or tutor;
  • About 44 percent of volunteers became involved after being asked to volunteer, most often by someone within the organization.

These statistics provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Division of Labor Force Statistics, Washington, D.C. For more information, visit

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LeaderCorps Update: Illinois LeaderCorps in Full Force

From National Service Recognition Day, LeaderCorps training retreat and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, LeaderCorps members have been busy engaging their communities in service. This spring, LeaderCorps is ready for another successful year.

In 2010, LeaderCorps has several exciting projects on the horizon. Currently, the Alumni Committee is developing an outreach effort to engage former Illinois AmeriCorps members in state service initiatives. The committee is creating a newsletter and hope to have AmeriCorps alumni help current AmeriCorps members celebrate National AmeriCorps Week in May.

The National Days of Service Committee has just completed coordinating a successful MLK Day and hit the ground running to prepare for National AmeriCorps Week. The National Days of Service committee will work with AmeriCorps programs across the state to coordinate and facilitate service projects for the fourth annual National AmeriCorps Week, May 8-15.

The Marketing and Outreach Committee, through collaboration and technological prowess, created a streamlined process to get the word out about MLK Day projects. The committee utilized Google maps to create an interactive map of all AmeriCorps sponsored service activities, complete with volunteer requirements and contact information. The Marketing and Outreach Committee is currently developing a blogging system to allow programs to write about their service experiences and engage the public in AmeriCorps service.

– Submitted by Alexandra Byrd, LeaderCorps President.


The mission of LeaderCorps is to connect AmeriCorps programs in Illinois through state, national and global days of service and to promote continued AmeriCorps alumni involvement.

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National Service Spotlight: A Fresh Start for Illinois Learn and Serve

Service-learning is a method of teaching and learning that connects classroom lessons with meaningful service to the community. Students build academic skills while strengthening communities through service. The potential benefits of high-quality service-learning include improved academic achievement, increased student engagement, and civic skills and stronger communities.

Funding to support local service-learning activities is available through the Learn and Serve America Program of the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Illinois K–12 school-based Learn and Serve America Program has just entered a new, three-year cycle (2009-2012) with a newly appointed coordinator at the Illinois State Board of Education and 23 funded projects across the state. Deborah Tharp Huffman comes to the State Board with many years of experience as an English teacher and English Department Head at the high school, middle school and community college levels. Huffman also has more than 10 years experience as a service-learning teacher in the Springfield Public Schools. She plans to continue teaching two service-learning courses every afternoon at Lanphier High School, while she carries out her duties as the Illinois LSA Coordinator.

The local service-learning projects that have been funded for the 2009-2010 school year include Bushnell- Prairie City School District; Chicago Public Schools; Carpentersville Community District 300; West Chicago Community High School District 94; Charleston Community Unit District 1; Evanston Township High School District; Lewiston District 97; Mannheim District 83; Monroe-Randolph ROE 45; Morton High School District; Mount Vernon City Schools; North Suburban Special Ed; District, North Shore District 112; Oswego District 308; The Pathways Program; Sangamon County ROE 51; Elgin District U-46; Special Ed. District of Lake County; Township High School District 113; Waukegan District 60; West 40 ISC #2; West Northfield District 31; and the Youth Connection Charter School.

For more information about the Illinois Learn and Serve America Program, please e-mail Deborah Huffman or e-mail Mike Mangan.

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Illinois VOAD: In Brief

When straight-line winds flattened homes, churches and businesses, and sprayed trees across country roads, and caused power outages in southern Illinois on May 8, 2009, organized volunteers were clearing debris within three hours. By September, volunteer teams from many organizations had completed more than 1,400 projects of debris removal.

The volunteers were trained and prepared for their work. They were affiliated with faith-based disaster response organizations, which coordinated their activities with local governments, and with each other. The volunteers could respond quickly, effectively and safely because they had already spent a lot of time building relationships with each other, as part of their respective organizations’ commitment to communicate, cooperate, coordinate and collaborate in disaster response and recovery.

The relationship building is part of Illinois Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (IL VOAD). The VOAD movement is a national movement, which is more than 30 years old. Its mission is to promote communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration among voluntary organizations in disaster response. IL VOAD has 26-member organizations including church affiliated and community-based groups all committed to working together to ensure effective disaster response. IL VOAD is not a program, and it is not a fundraising entity. It is a forum for organizations that provide services and raise funds to meet, communicate and plan together.

As we return to the tornado and flood season in Illinois, IL VOAD says "thank you" to volunteers in Illinois for responding to disaster, and we say “thank you” to the Serve Illinois Commission for raising the visibility of disaster response by volunteers.

– Submitted by Dave Roth, Chair, Executive Committee, Illinois VO AD.

For More Information

For more information, please contact any member of the IL VOAD Executive Committee:

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Program Feature

AUSL Turning Schools Around

Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) is a not-for-profit that partners with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to transform chronically underperforming schools, typically in high poverty areas. AUSL accomplishes this through a two-pronged approach:

  • Special training for teachers – AUSL's seven training academies prepare quality teachers using an innovative urban teacher residency (UTR) program, which is an intense, fullyear apprenticeship with a mentor teacher at a CPS school. Graduates earn their Illinois teaching certification and a master’s degree through a partnership with National–Louis University or the Erikson Institute.
  • Transforming schools top to bottom – AUSL transforms CPS-chosen "turnaround schools" by completely overhauling them. The overhaul takes place over summer break and includes renovated facilities, a new curriculum, a new principal, and new teachers, many of whom are graduates of the UTR program. AUSL currently manages eight turnaround schools, seven elementary schools and one high school.

As a first year AmeriCorps program, AUSL's members (called "residents") currently serve at The Chicago Academy (elementary), Chicago Academy and Orr Academy (both secondary). AUSL's AmeriCorps members combine service with training. The residents work closely with their mentor teacher and other school colleagues to serve students and the broader school community. These service activities involve working in the classroom four days a week with students; providing instruction to students in individual, smallgroup, and whole class settings; lesson planning, grading papers, work related to student assessment, and university homework assignments specifically related to preparation for service in the classroom; contacting parents and community members; participation in all school/content-level meetings and professional development sessions; and in school-wide events and activities (e.g. attending after-school activities to support students).

AUSL's UTR program is a uniquely designed training program unlike any other teacher preparation program. AUSL directly influences the success of urban schools through their UTR program. Participants make a five-year commitment – one year of intensive teacher training and course work, followed by four years of teaching in Chicago’s high-needs urban schools. The yearlong residency consists of hands-on classroom training under the guidance of a mentor teacher in an AUSL training academy, while earning a Master's degree in Elementary or Secondary Education and an Illinois teaching certification. Through this unique training design, residents develop teaching fundamentals and the strength, resiliency and flexibility necessary to be successful urban school teachers.

AUSL's university partners developed a curriculum specifically tailored to AUSL's UTR program. Residents acquire yearlong training on urban education issues, diversity and behavior management strategies. AUSL's staff, mentor teachers, and the university professors provide residents with the pedagogy and real time classroom experiences in an actual Chicago Public school. Residents become engaged in an atmosphere of inquiry, self-improvement, self-reflection and interactive assessment, which prepares them to become effective teachers in urban environments.

The success of the AUSL UTR program is based on the mentoring and coaching provided by highly skilled veteran teachers. AUSL ensures that residents receive regular, frequent, and personalized coaching and mentoring through a prescribed method of reflection and feedback.

For more information, please visit AUSL.

– Submitted by Shane Caterino, Director – Corporate & Foundation Giving, AUSL.

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Training and Professional Development

Find a Volunteer Opportunity Today! Visit

In addition to the searchable portal of over 60,000 volunteer opportunities statewide, hosts a wide variety of volunteer resources:

If your agency has upcoming volunteerism or national service events, Web site links or professional development resources for web or newsletter publication, please e-mail it to us for consideration.

Regional VMN Leaders Gather

January 20, 2010 marked the start of a new phase in the Serve Illinois Commission's Volunteer Management Network (VMN) project. The project is aimed at empowering local leaders, leveraging collaborative partnerships and knowledge, and enhancing statewide communications to sustain a statewide volunteerism "infrastructure" for Illinois. Leaders from each of the Commission's five service regions met in Springfield at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to plan and operationalize this grassroots, statewide network of volunteer managers and leaders.

Since 2007, the VMN project has taken hold in Illinois, spawning the creation of new volunteer centers, new regional volunteer management conferences of low cost and high quality, increased utilization of as a statewide resource and referral system for volunteer opportunities, and increased interest in sharing best practices across organizations. As volunteers are a sorely needed and underutilized asset in Illinois, the VMN project has also raised the profile of those important leaders within organizations, small and large, who manage volunteers on a daily basis.

The Commission believes it is imperative that community and organizational leaders understand the importance and value of a well-run volunteer program, and the resources needed to sustain and fully leverage this resource. January's meeting is just the beginning of the continued growth of a decentralized infrastructure, connected to the Serve Illinois Commission, to fully tap into the $6 billion industry in Illinois – her volunteers.

Through the Illinois Volunteer Management Network, community and volunteer leaders have the opportunity to shape the direction and focus of activities in your region. Please help us continue to make the VMN a real community asset that will benefit not only your organization, but also your community and region of Illinois. If you are interested in getting involved, hosting a meeting, or helping connect agencies to the Serve Illinois Commission, please contact us at 800.592.9896 or e-mail Serve Illinois.

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Upcoming Days of Service

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Contact Us

Serve Illinois is a publication of the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service. Send articles for submission and suggestions to:

SERVE Illinois Editor
Illinois Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service
535 W. Jefferson, 3rd Floor, Springfield, IL 62702
E-mail Serve Illinois
800.592.9896 TTY 888.261.2713

Illinois AmeriCorps Disability Outreach Project: Meeting the needs for AmeriCorps Members of all backgrounds and abilities.

This material is based upon work supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service under AmeriCorps Grant No.07CAHIL001. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Corporation for National and Community Service or the AmeriCorps program.

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