The Corps Network participates in White House event launching Obama Administration’s Summer Opportunity Project

Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network, joined Corporation for National and Community Service panel on summer service and CNCS’ new Summer Opportunity AmeriCorps program


WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday at the White House, CEO of The Corps Network Mary Ellen Sprenkel joined the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for a panel discussion on CNCS’ recently-announced initiative, Summer Opportunity AmeriCorps.

Sprenkel spoke about how young people, particularly “opportunity youth” (young people who are neither in school nor working or may be at-risk of falling off track), can benefit from a summer term of service with a Corps program. Sprenkel shared the outcomes of the successful Opportunity Youth Summer Service pilot project, operated by The Corps Network and CNCS during the summer of 2015.

The pilot project demonstrated that a summer-long term of service can have a powerful impact on a young person. For the project, three Corps participating in The Corps Network’s AmeriCorps Opportunity Youth Service Initiative enrolled a total of 82 opportunity youth in a 3-month-long AmeriCorps term of service. Corpsmembers participated in trail maintenance, habitat restoration and a variety of other environmental projects. They collectively completed over 24,600 service hours, gaining important job skills and enhancing their education in the process.

At the end of the summer, the majority of Corpsmembers reported having a clearer direction for their future and a sense of civic duty: 80 percent felt more aware of the needs of their community; 80 percent felt a greater responsibility to help their community; 75 percent wanted to pursue education beyond high school; and 71 percent wanted to pursue a career helping others. As AmeriCorps members, each of the Corpsmembers was eligible to receive a $1,195 AmeriCorps Education Award (scholarship) to pursue future education or repay student loans.

Based on the success of last year’s pilot program, CNCS is planning a similar initiative – Summer Opportunity AmeriCorps – for the summer of 2016.  Specifically, CNCS is committing up to $15 million over the next three years to provide AmeriCorps Education Awards to young people in summer national service programs.

Similar to the 2015 pilot program, the Summer Opportunity AmeriCorps Program is designed to help close the “opportunity gap” that can form during the summer by providing young people with opportunities to continue learning and developing skills when schools are closed.  Unlike last year’s pilot  the Administration is encouraging, private and other funders to cover programmatic costs of the initiative. “This additional support will be critical to enable Corps and other service and workforce development programs to participate in this initiative,” said Sprenkel.

The panel on which Sprenkel participated was part of a day-long event at the White House focused on the Obama Administration’s new Summer Opportunity Project. The Summer Opportunity Project is an initiative to bring together state and local leaders, community organizations, philanthropic leaders, and federal agencies, like CNCS and the Department of Labor, to build support systems to help young people make the transition between school years, and then successfully transition to college and careers. The goal is to offer more young people, particularly more youth from low-income communities, opportunities to work and learn during the summer months. Summer Opportunity AmeriCorps is one element of the Summer Opportunity Project. 

“We are thrilled that the Administration is taking steps to help combat the ‘summer slide.’ Participating in a Corps or other national service program is different from a summer job, and all youth should have the opportunity to experience that,” said Sprenkel. “Corps provide youth a support system and engage them in projects that provide tangible benefits to the community; Corpsmembers see the results of their labor and recognize that they have the ability to make a difference. Corps are intentional about helping Corpsmembers learn leadership skills and the value of working with people from diverse backgrounds.”

The Obama Administration officially launched the Summer Opportunity Project this morning during a White House Champions of Change event highlighting local leaders making a difference in providing summer work and learning opportunities to disadvantaged youth.

About The Corps Network

The Corps Network provides leadership and support to over 120 of America’s Service and Conservation Corps. Through advocacy, access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables over 23,000 Corpsmembers, ages 16-25, to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service.

To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit

Media Contact:

Hannah Traverse
The Corps Network
1275 K Street, NW – Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202.737.6272
Email: [email protected]