SAN ANTONIO - It may be early in the morning, but the sounds of singing can be heard through the halls of Rhodes Middle School as the students enter the building for another day.
The songs are coming from a group of nine young adults ranging in age from 18 to 25 years old, and they are singing to get the young students excited about the day ahead.
"We are here to really help push them and be their cheerleader and encourage them along the way," City Year Impact Manager Gilisa Taylor said.
The bell is about to ring just after 8 a.m. and as students begin to head toward their classes, they get a friendly energy boost from the City Year team.
"Everybody really deserves to have somebody that's really positive, that's really enthusiastic in their corner cheering for them and making sure that [students are] achieving everything that they want," said Taylor, who is the impact manager of the group at Rhodes, which is located just outside of downtown San Antonio.
City Year is a non-profit group made up of 18 to 25-year-olds that spend an entire day mentoring, tutoring, and being a role model to students in local urban public schools.
"They have a lot of similar tastes in the latest genres that are out there when it comes to movies and music," Rhodes Principal Moises Ortiz said. "I think it helps and gives [students] a perspective of someone that's a little closer in age and logic."
City Year's focus is to help students reach their potential and help decrease the high school dropout rate.
"It's not just on the school to do it, but that everybody has a vested interest in making sure our future citizens get the support," Principal Ortiz added. "It's a great partnership with the school administration and the teachers in the community as a whole, because what they do is help us identify kids that are struggling or have tremendous potential in certain areas of academics."
One-third of City Year's funding, however, comes from the federally funded Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS). But a branch of CNCS called AmeriCorp is in jeopardy if the current federal budget proposal passes.
"If we're not able to continue the support from AmeriCorp, we would have to reduce the size of our AmeriCorp members. We currently have 89 members serving in seven independent schools," City Year VP and Executive Director Kelly Hughes Burton said.
If that proposed budget does pass, Burton says that City Year would lose more that $1 million and some schools would lose out on the City Year program. The group is asking for anyone feeling the need to keep the non-profit program to contact their local Congressman or Congresswoman and ask them to keep federal funding for groups like AmeriCorp.
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