Announcing a New School Turnaround AmeriCorps Program

Arne, Wendy and Americorps members

Secretary Arne Duncan and Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer with two Americorps members at Grad Nation.

Yesterday, as education leaders from across the country gathered at the Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., we were pleased to announce a new collaboration between our agencies: School Turnaround AmeriCorps.

This competitive, three-year grant program is designed to strengthen and accelerate interventions in our nation’s lowest-performing schools. The new initiative will engage hundreds of AmeriCorps members in turnaround schools across the country. AmeriCorps members will help students, teachers, and principals to transform struggling schools by providing opportunities for academic enrichment, extended learning time, and individual supports for students. These interventions will lead to increased academic achievement and improved high school graduation rates and college readiness among our most disadvantaged students.

We know that students are most successful when they have personal, attentive support.  We believe this initiative is an important step forward in the effort to provide our lowest-performing schools with the additional resources that they need to improve.

Turning around struggling schools is challenging work that requires everyone to play a part – from teachers, administrators, and counselors to business leaders, the philanthropic sector, and community members. This partnership will expand the role of AmeriCorps members in helping students, teachers, parents, and school administrators to transform persistently underachieving schools into models of success.

Public or private nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and other community groups; schools or districts; institutions of higher education; cities and counties; Indian Tribes; and labor organizations are eligible to apply to this program, along with partnerships and consortia of these entities.

A notice of intent to apply must be submitted to the Corporation for National and Community Service by April 2, 2013 via e-mail at: Applications are due on April 23, 2013. Grants will be awarded by mid-July.

Please take a moment to read about the initiative. More information about the notice of intent and application instructions may be found here. Together, we can help all students thrive in school and in life.

Secretary Arne Duncan                                    CEO Wendy Spencer
Department of Education                                 Corporation for National and Community Service


  1. Considering the testimonials of seasoned teachers who have experienced participants from the Turnaround AmeriCorps programs, wouldn’t it be more effective and practical to increase the number of academic coaches (teachers) who are experienced in classroom management instead of hiring individuals who lack a foundation in educational theories and practices? It seems that these coaches would be a greater asset to aid weak teachers and strengthen at risk schools. I’m just saying….

  2. Also, teachers from programs such as Teach For America rarely stay in the classroom for more than two years. In my school, I have mentored six different TFA language arts teachers. They begin with poor classroom management skills which leads to lose of instruction time in the classroom. Each year, their students have poor test results, which brings down the percentage of students who score proficient on the big test. By the end of the second year they become better teachers, and some even achieve some success in the classroom. Then, after two years, they leave to because they want “to help make educational policy” for the rest of us. Its a cycle that has continued for the past 15 years or so. Mr. Duncan, you need to include experienced teachers in your educational policies, not just young, TFA and AmeriCorp teachers. Michelle Rhee is misleading you with her false narrative about who are and are not effective teachers.

    • The article and the RFP did not lead me to believe the intent of this new initiative is to create more teachers.The article even says what the AmeriCorps members will be doing: “academic enrichment, extended learning time, and individual supports for students”. Most likely these Turnaround Corps Members will be tutoring and handling extra-curricular engagement. Isn’t it helpful to have well-prepared aides in the classroom working with small groups of students?

  3. As an experienced teacher of 23 years, it has been my experience that teachers from programs such as AmeriCorp and TFA are some of the most poorly trained teachers, and the most ill equipted to handle a class room; they lack the classroom management skills to succeed. Despite your misleading data, many teachers from these programs often have some of the lowest test scores in a school. And they are our saviors?

    • Verna I couldn’t agree with you more! I don’t understand how someone with no teaching experience can be transplanted from another part of the country into a challenging classroom.

      As a urban public school educator my saviors have been the teachers with twenty plus years experience who taught me the ropes. Who took me under their wing and showed me how to be a teacher in our school. Not the many TFA AmeriCorp person who had no teaching skills, and was afraid of the students.

    • I am interested in applying, but would like to make sure my program is of some value. This question is for those of you who have some experience with programs like this one. What do you think about using pre-service teachers who are enrolled in an education program?

  4. Adding AmeriCorp members to a “turnaround process” will be a great assistance in these schools but only if they are very well-trained.

    I do wish the Obama administration would invite others to the table to discuss this whole “turnaround” idea. The people most qualified to discuss the issues are least likely to be at the table. They are people like myself who have tried and failed to help dysfunctional schools improve. We know the pitfalls.

    If the administration would take a moment to review the successes and failures of “reforms” of the past, we could move forward more responsibly. We aren’t that far off track; but we are off track.

  5. Alum pet peeve – please fix the headline so the “c” in AmeriCorps is capitalized the way it’s supposed to be.

    • @Lauren – thanks for pointing it out! We’ve fixed it.

      Cameron Brenchley
      Office of Communications and Outreach

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