Civic Engagement Projects in CTEP AmeriCorps
Each year our 35 CTEP AmeriCorps members choose community action projects that make a contribution to bridging the digital divide. The CTEP civic engagement projects are often cited by CTEP AmeriCorps members, staff, supervisors, and community supporters as one of the most unique and energizing parts of the program.
Our curriculum is based on Augsburg College’s Public Achievement model of community engagement and leadership. You can find resources and read more about their model to find out how “through Public Achievement people of all ages work with others to meet challenges and solve problems. They learn from each other the meaning of citizenship and democracy. Ordinary people do extraordinary things.”
CTEP members have indeed achieved extraordinary things through their civic engagement projects. Every year we are blown away by the enthusiasm and teamwork CTEP members bring to solving real-world digital inclusion problems. CTEP community supporters often say they love the civic engagement presentation because they are inspired by members’ energy and leadership. You can read more about past projects below.
At the beginning of the year CTEP members develop an idea that addresses a problem related to digital inclusion and work with a community agency to propose a solution. Then the members pitch the idea to the rest of the 35 CTEP members at one of our training day. Members in the cohort choose the projects with the most energy and potential for success and begin working together in small groups. The groups, made up of 4-5 CTEP members, then roll up their sleeves and get to work on the year-long project, which take about 75 hours per member outside of their regular service at their host sites. At the end of the service year members present their projects at our annual civic engagement presentations.
THE BIG PICTURE
The mission of the projects is to help CTEP members gain the skills and experience to become more civically engaged in their communities during their year with AmeriCorps, with the expectation that this experience will lead to increased community involvement in their future life. Through the civic engagement projects we have seen CTEP members develop their own leadership skills and understand how to work collectively to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate a community action project.
CTEP Members have said they enjoy the projects because they get an opportunity to develop relationships with other CTEP members in the cohort, get to know a community agency or partner, and develop their own leadership and project management skills in an area they are passionate about.