Stories of Service


By: Mayank Gupta


More than 1,200 Minnesotans Join Nationwide Celebration of AmeriCorps’ 20th Anniversary

Northside Achievement Zone CEO Sondra Samuels to receive National Leadership Award

[BLOOMINGTON, MINN.]– On Friday, September 12, more than 1,100 Minnesotans will participate in a nationwide celebration of AmeriCorps’ 20th Anniversary Friday at Mall of America – with a livestream address by President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.

Among other local dignitaries in attendance, President and CEO of Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) Sondra Samuels will be recognized as one of 20 National Leadership Award recipients who are proven community problem solvers. Samuels, who will serve as the inspirational closing speaker of Friday’s event, was a member of the first AmeriCorps class in 1994.

Samuels will discuss how AmeriCorps shaped her path and her work with NAZ to bridge economic and educational gaps in North Minneapolis. “Our job is to ensure that we can change the trajectory for the resource-poor children in North Minneapolis. We want to end multi-generational poverty, provide whole family support and give all our children access to a quality education to be college ready,” she said.

ServeMinnesota CEO Audrey Suker said, “We’re thrilled that Sondra received this recognition. She continues to demonstrate the power of her AmeriCorps service every day through her work as CEO of NAZ. She is a tireless advocate for improving outcomes for children and families throughout North Minneapolis and champions AmeriCorps service as a way to help support and complement those efforts.”

Pledge ceremonies will be taking place simultaneously from coast to coast. This anniversary celebration honors the nearly 1 million individuals who have dedicated a year or more of AmeriCorps service in the past 20 years.

The details of Friday’s event include:

WHAT:  The AmeriCorps pledge ceremony will kick off a year of service for hundreds of individuals serving in Minnesota.  The celebration will recognize AmeriCorps members and alums, from such programs as Minnesota Reading Corps, Habitat for Humanity and Conservation Corps and many others for their positive impact in communities across Minnesota over the past 20 years           

WHO:  President Barack Obama; former President Bill Clinton; Senator Dave Durenberger; Dave Wellstone, son of Senator Paul Wellstone; Marcus Penny, AmeriCorps alum and son of Senator Tim Penny; Sondra Samuels, NAZ President and CEO

WHERE:  Mall of America Rotunda

WHEN:  Friday, September 12, 2014; 9:30 am to 11 am  (Pledge at approximately 10:30 am)

About ServeMinnesota

ServeMinnesota is a catalyst for positive social change and community service, working with AmeriCorps members and community partners to meet critical needs in Minnesota.  As a nonprofit organization, it recruits and supports thousands of individuals to improve the lives of Minnesotans by offering life-changing service opportunities that focus on education, affordable housing, employment, and the environment. Since 1994, more than more than 23,000 Minnesotans have served more than 35 million hours and have qualified for Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards totaling more than $83,870,000.  By aligning this powerful group of dedicated individuals with issues that need attention, ServeMinnesota makes a significant impact on the most critical needs facing the state. For more information, visit

About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, and the Volunteer Generation Fund, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. AmeriCorps members provide intensive, results-driven service to meet education, environmental, health, economic, and other pressing needs in communities across the country. For more information, visit

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