Dayton one of top U.S. cities for volunteer program

Dayton for the second year in a row has been recognized as one of the top small U.S. cities for producing AmeriCorps members, which local officials say makes a big difference in the community.

The Corporation for National and Community Service this week unveiled its annual rankings of the most common hometowns of people in the volunteer program.

Dayton again ranked 10th in the nation among small U.S. cities, those with populations between 100,000 and 249,999 people.

RELATED: UD, Dayton launch Dayton Corps

The rankings are based per capita. Provo, Utah, took the top honor for small cities, and Baltimore was the top hometown among bigger cities.

Dayton was the only Ohio city to make the rankings for communities both large and small.

Dayton leaders lauded the contributions of AmeriCorps members to local schools, governments, nonprofits and community service groups.

“We’re really committed to the AmeriCorps program,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “We use a lot of AmeriCorps members to get work done in the city of Dayton.”

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Across the region, AmeriCorps members work with children and underserved, vulnerable and at-risk populations.

They provide academic support, education, training, mentoring and programming.

On Wednesday, the city commission approved a resolution authorizing the acceptance of a $315,625 state grant to help pay for 70 AmeriCorps members to serve across Dayton.

The University of Dayton facilitates Dayton Corps, which is an AmeriCorps program through ServeOhio.

Dayton Corps members work in education, neighborhood leadership development and housing insecurity and employment, said Hunter Phillips Goodman, executive director of UD’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community.

Education corps members take part in education activities at the Madden Hills or Northwest libraries.

Neighborhood corps work out of City Hall and engage residents and stakeholders in community organizing in the Edgemont, Carillon, Westwood and Residence Park neighborhoods, Goodman said.

Opportunity Corps members work at local homeless shelters.

The program benefits members because they can build employment and team building skills, and hands-on understanding of critical needs in the community, Goodman said.

And for the community, she said, AmeriCorps provides vital hands-on assistance to children and adults served by libraries, in neighborhoods and through nonprofits.

Members definitely get valuable experiences that boosts their employment prospects.

About two-thirds of AmeriCorps members are employed within six months of completing their AmeriCorps commitment, the organization said.

The city of Dayton has hired a AmeriCorps alum to work as a legislative aide.

Five Rivers MetroParks’ new community gardening coordinator worked for AmeriCorps. She moved to Dayton to serve her second year with the program and fell in love with the community.

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