School-based service corps recruiting recent + not so recent college grads

By Amy Potthast.

Many service corps connect recent college grads and re-careering sector switchers with K-12 classrooms — sometimes as tutors, sometimes as teachers. Here are just a few:

Classroom from Flickr's Cayoup

From Flickr's Cayoup

Blue Engine launched in 2010 to provide first-year high schoolers in New York with small-group algebra and English Language Arts instruction to boost their chances for college success. This year the program has grown to serve three schools, with 28 fellows.

The core problem this corps is working to solve is: although many groups are trying hard to get kids to finish high school and into college, many road blocks prevent the same kids from finishing college. Check out this illustrative story of a young man named Travis Hill.

The Blue Engine solution? Preparing high school freshman to master a more rigorous academic program through recruiting excellent recent college grads to complement the efforts of faculty, tailor instruction to student needs, and engage parents.

Learn more on the Blue Engine website and check out my podcast interview with founder Nick Ehrmann which originally launched in March 2010.

Like Blue Engine, Great Oaks Tutor Corps Urban Education Fellowship is a new fellowship program that recruits recent college grads to provide small-group attention to students and that includes parent involvement in its formula for  success. And though Great Oaks Charter School is a middle school, this corps also aims to prepare its students for victory in college.

Health Corps, founded by Dr. Oz, places recent college grads in public schools for two years to education students about nutrition, fitness, and mental resilience. More than a service corps, Health Corps is part of a nationwide movement to create consciousness and action in schools and communities to end the obesity epidemic. Health Corps hires new coordinators in 12 states across the United States plus Washington, D.C.—and the Corps has recently expanded its California corps to 15 sites.

Finally, Teach For America … it’s better known that Blue Engine, Great Oaks and even Health Corps…

But did you know that Teach For America recruits nonprofit professionals, and AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alums — like you?

Teach For America — arguably the highest-profile of service corps working in schools — recruits high achievers of all ages to teach full-time for two years to expand educational opportunity for pre-K through grade 12 kids in low-income communities.

Furthermore, Teach For America strives to enlist corps members and alumni in its movement to end educational inequity. By design, alumni go on to a variety of leadership roles across sectors and industry — carrying with them their complex experiences as frontline classroom teachers. With their unique perspectives, they can impact the national conversation about education from diverse positions through the United States.

Read more about Teach For America on its website, and check out upcoming webinars including one featuring panel of corps members and alumni who joined the corps as professionals or grad students will talk about their experiences in the classroom and the impact it had on their lives.

Amy Potthast served as Idealist’s Director of Service and Graduate Education Programs until 2011. Read more of her work at

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