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City Year’s Jeff Shafer talks STEM studies, teaming with urban high schools

Jeff Shafer paint buckets[1]

Jeff Shafer, 28, was raised in Kansas City, Missouri and moved to Chicago in 2005 to earn his BA in marketing communications at Columbia College Chicago. Shafer first began his service with City Year in the corps from 2010 to 2012, where he served as a team leader for two years on the South Side of Chicago. Upon being hired to staff at City Year, Shafer worked as an impact manager, managing three different school partnerships before transitioning into his role within the development department as the Grant Writer of City Year Chicago.

City Year is an education-focused organization founded in 1988 dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. City Year partners with public schools in 26 urban, high-poverty communities across the U.S. and through international affiliates in the U.K. and Johannesburg, South Africa. Diverse teams of City Year AmeriCorps members provide high-impact student, classroom and school-wide support, to help students stay in school and on track to graduate from high school, ready for college and career success. A proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network, City Year is made possible by support from the Corporation for National and Community Service, school district partnerships, and private philanthropy from corporations, foundations and individuals. Learn more at They are accepting applications for candidates.

Here, Shafer shares how City Year works to steer minorities to careers and studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

City Year AmeriCorps Members

How is City Year addressing the need for more minorities in STEM studies and careers?
Too many children of color don’t recognize their full potential, and any adult that steps into their lives has the opportunity to change this. We can tell kids that they can be anything they want, but sometimes that’s not enough. City Year partners with teachers by placing highly trained mentors and tutors in schools to provide supports for students in need of a little extra care and attention. These supports provide the type of academic interventions that can help open the doors to careers in STEM. Directly, this support is providing math tutoring sessions or homework help for science class. It’s also letting kids know about the opportunities that are available and what it takes to accomplish them. Teams of City Year AmeriCorps members work to keep students in school and on track to graduate. They also get to know the students on a personal level through trust and understanding. This type of connectivity helps students build the confidence they need to pursue careers in fields where they don’t often see others who like them.

City Year Comcast Career Day January 2014 City Year NH & Boston

Who should apply?
Many people who join City Year as corps members are college graduates, but any young adult between the ages of 17 to 24 who is eager to grow as a leader and make a difference in the lives of others should apply.

Why should they apply?
People should apply because City Year is an experience of a lifetime. Young people sign up to change a kid’s life for the better, but it’s impossible to go through such an experience and not change yourself. The growth in character, leadership and professional skills that come as result of a year of service with City Year creates a launching pad for a wide range of careers. Most importantly, City Year is a place that is moving our society in the right direction. City Year is tackling education inequality. It recognizes that the color of someone’s skin or their zip code should never determine their level of success.

They are currently accepting applications for this year’s candidates. Deadline: May 31, 2015. Learn more at

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