Amazing AmeriCorps Impact

By Maddie Interdonato

3/12/19 - Alpine Achievers Initiative was developed in 2012 by a secondary Mathematics teacher working in Saguache, CO. The teacher recognized a large percentage of students were struggling with challenges around mental health, substance use, academic achievement, and were in need of increased support. The teacher, along with other committed adults, began working to increase protective factors available to youth in the community by providing resources on a volunteer basis. Limited options were available for structured out of school activities, and schools had reduced days, causing students to be at home on Fridays without supervision. The teacher began providing these services pro-bono during her after school hours, coordinating with other caring teachers and service providers in the community and envisioning a future when these impromptu efforts would become a coordinated, sustainable, and grant-funded program designed to benefit all children and families served by MVSD.

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Alpine Achievers Initiative quickly grew and expanded programming. Recognizing the importance of having strong, dedicated and driven role models for the youth in the San Luis Valley, AAI brought in AmeriCorps members to assist with their mission. Each year, 20 people from across the country move to southern Colorado to join AAI and dedicate a year of service to these communities. These people bring a variety of skills, knowledge, and personalities to our program and make AAI what is it today.

Alpine Achievers Initiative has multiple aspects of its program, all structured around positive youth development - engaging youth to help build confidence, character, connection, competence, contribution, and caring. We serve youth in multiple aspects of their daily lives.

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Schools with our AmeriCorps members have an extra hand classrooms, providing much needed one-on-one assistance for youth who need extra help in math or literacy. This creates more manageable classrooms and more effective general instruction for all students. Students who receive effective interventions in early grades will be able to progress successfully through the grades and will be more likely to make healthy choices as they transition into adulthood.

Our 2 Out of School Time programs provide a safe and fun atmosphere to students during non-school hours, which include Monday - Thursdays after school, Fridays during the day, and school breaks. These are completely AmeriCorps member led - they provide positive adult attention, academic support and enrichment, social/emotional development and connection with the environment.

Another component of what we do is our Backyard to Backcountry Program. This program focuses on engaging youth with the environment. This program is offered to grades K-12 in different capacities. For elementary, an AmeriCorps member goes into classrooms and teaches a fun environmental education activity that incorporates teachers’ current curriculum. High schoolers are offered outdoor adventures like rock climbing, ropes courses, and backpacking trips led by an experienced Backyard to Backcountry AmeriCorps member.

Alpine Achievers Initiative relies on our amazing AmeriCorps members to provide quality outreach to the youth of the SLV. Our AmeriCorps members are placed at one of 14 service sites that vary from school districts, community centers, to partner organizations. Each member has a completely different service year depending on their site and the town they live in. The one thing they all have in common? They are creating a lasting impact on the youth of the San Luis Valley.

As we continue to celebrate AmeriCorps Week, we will be hearing from some of our Alumni about their experiences serving with AmeriCorps within AAI.

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