National Urban League AmeriCorps Program











NUL AmeriCorps Program Overview

As of early 2015, the National Urban League (NUL) has been designated as an AmeriCorps National Direct Grantee.  AmeriCorps is a nationwide volunteer program, similar to a domestic version of the Peace Corps, which helps volunteers make a difference in their communities while earning stipends for education. In partnership with four Urban League affiliates, NUL has recruited and trained 20 AmeriCorps members, who help improve the economic prospects of low-income youth in their communities by teaching them about healthy living practices.  By the end of the first program year, the AmeriCorps members will have provided at least 8,000 participants with health education workshops. In addition, the AmeriCorps members will have improved their own long-term employment prospects by earning health education certifications that provide entry to healthcare career pathways.

Health Education Workshops

Workshops will be focused on topics such as:
  • Heart health
  • Physical activity and nutrition
  • Avoiding diabetes
  • Awareness of mental health issues
These workshops will be based on the Project Wellness Curriculum, created by the Morehouse College of Medicine, specially tailored to be relevant to African American residents of urban communities.
 
The workshops will help AmeriCorps members meet the following key goals:
  1. Increase low-income urban youth enrollment in health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  2. Increase low-income urban youth’s knowledge of healthy lifestyles and preventive care
     

Proposed Outcomes

Health and work are inextricably linked; good health is essential to productive employment and attaining long-term economic security through work. Healthy workers incur fewer medical costs and are more productive, while those with chronic health issues have more absenteeism, are less productive, and incur higher costs to the healthcare system. 

Many “young invincibles” (young people without health insurance) do not understand the need for health insurance, or the long-term detrimental economic impact of unhealthy behaviors. As AmeriCorps members educate youth in the 18-34 age group about health issues in relation to long-term earning potential, and by encouraging “young invincibles” to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, low-income youth will gain improved health outcomes. In the short term, these interventions will lead to healthier behaviors on the part of low-income urban youth; in the long term, they will provide these youth with increased economic security through increased connection to work.

Timeline

The program grant cycle is from June 2015 – August 2018.
 

Program Participants

  • AmeriCorps service members will be recruited from participants in NUL’s Signature Urban Youth Empowerment Program (UYEP), which targets young adult high school dropouts and youth involved in the criminal justice system, and/or a related program at their local Urban League affiliate.
  • AmeriCorps members will target their services to low-income youth age 18 and older, especially “young invincibles.”
     

Certifications Earned by AmeriCorps Members

Each AmeriCorps member will earn two health education certifications, namely:
  • Certified Peer Educator credential, issued by the national peer educator organization NASPA, demonstrating that they have mastered the elements of effective peer education.
  • Project Wellness certification, issued by NUL, demonstrating that they have knowledge of a comprehensive and culturally relevant health education curriculum.
These certifications will give members the foundation needed to begin moving up health-focused career pathways. Their experience and skills gained during the program year will lead natural to occupations such as community health workers, Registered Nurses, or case managers.

Targeted Cities (delivered through local affiliates)

The program will operate in the following four urban cities:
  1. Chicago, Illinois
  2. Fort Wayne, Indiana
  3. New Orleans, Louisiana
  4. Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
 
Check out photos from the November 2015 New Member Orientation and affiliate orientation at the National Urban League headquarters in New York.

   

   

   
 

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Lashonda Crockett is an educator and health professional with a Master’s Degree in Health and an entrepreneur who doesn’t mind sharing the secrets of better health and vitality. Her message of tasty...