Albright College alumna Jasmine Clarke has returned to her alma mater to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer to help expand the College’s educational partnership with neighboring 13th and Union Elementary School and to engage in community outreach through the Albright Early Learning Center.
Clarke, a graduate of the Class of 2014, began her year-long service as a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) on July 25. Under the umbrella of the federal AmeriCorps program, VISTA is a national anti-poverty effort in which volunteers focus on fighting illiteracy, improving health services, fostering economic development and other endeavors.
“I am interested in giving back to the community that became my home for the past four years as an undergraduate student,” said Clarke, a native of Ossining, N.Y., who earned a bachelor’s degree in communications (journalism track) at Albright. “Being back at Albright in this capacity means I have an opportunity to do more to make a difference and create change for a better educational environment.”
Clarke will recruit volunteers to assist with the tutoring program that pairs Albright students with 13th and Union students to provide reading help as part of the United Way of Berks County’s Ready. Set. Read! effort, which seeks to have all county students reading on level by the end of third grade.
She will work with the Albright Early Learning Center (AELC) to create opportunities for at-risk Latino children to attend full-time preschool/childcare, an effort aimed at improving long-term educational success. As a VISTA, Clarke will also engage in community outreach, strengthening ties between the College and the surrounding area, and she will prepare communication materials to help facilitate the long-term plans to move the AELC back to campus.
“I am hoping to accomplish, through this opportunity, a system that allows parents and students to become more knowledgeable about educational resources. I want to see Reading students succeed,” said Clarke. “I also hope to break the language barriers and provide support and confidence for at-risk Latino youth to excel.”
Albright-13th and Union Partnership coordinator Dorothea Miller said Clarke’s familiarity with the campus and community makes her a great choice for a VISTA. Clarke served on Albright’s Student Government Association and has volunteered in the Reading area.
“Part of the difficulty with a VISTA is that they spend a great deal of time getting to know an area before they’re able to do outreach. Because Jasmine knows Albright College, she’ll be able to get involved with the neighborhood right away,” said Miller. “Also, she has many contacts at Albright and will be able to extend the Partnership through those contacts.”
VISTA members are not paid but do receive living allowances.
From Albright College