Stories of Service


Emergency Response Initiative: Continuing to Help During the COVID-19 Crisis

Attend a virtual information session on April 28 to hear about community needs for the upcoming summer

After more than a year of supporting distance learning and filling urgent community needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota schools and nonprofits are stretched thin — and are facing a second summer of unprecedented demand and disruption.

At the same time, even as some sectors of the economy begin to recover from the impact of the pandemic, many recent high school and college graduates are feeling squeezed: Unemployment among people age 16 to 24 remains high at more than 11%, as compared to the overall unemployment rate of 6%.

Person serving food. Words over image read "be the neighbor"

ServeMinnesota’s Emergency Response Initiative (ERI), launched last summer and returning for summer 2021, is an effort that benefits both groups. ERI matches schools and nonprofits that need help with AmeriCorps members who seek meaningful work opportunities to aid our communities’ recovery.

Beginning in June, ERI members will deploy to more than 270 sites across the state — including more than 100 in the Twin Cities metro alone — that need support to deal with issues such as hunger, homelessness and educational challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.

To serve the increased need, ServeMinnesota is recruiting 525 members in the seven-county metro area and more than 800 members throughout the state — nearly triple the size of last year’s effort, when approximately 300 AmeriCorps members served 37 Minnesota communities. 

As part of the summerlong program, members serve in schools to help students in pre-K through grade 12 whose learning was disrupted by the pandemic. They also serve in nonprofit organizations to support people who face food insecurity, homelessness and isolation.

For example, Rice County Habitat for Humanity was able to keep building homes last summer when it wasn’t safe for retired volunteers to continue working because of COVID risks. At Family Service Rochester, a member delivered fresh, healthy food to more than 150 households each week. And a member serving in the Hennepin County shelter system distributed meals and ensured that the facility was safe and sanitary for guests at high risk for COVID-19. All of these projects and more, helped to address the widening disparities caused by the pandemic.

This summer, members will serve 35 hours per week from June 6 through Aug. 14. When you become an AmeriCorps member, you’ll receive a modest living stipend, health insurance and a post-service education award you can use to pay down student debt, further your schooling or pass on to a child or grandchild for higher education costs. You’ll also receive valuable job experience in high-needs areas.

You can read more about ERI, see the list of available positions and apply now — or register here to attend a virtual information session on Wednesday, April 28, from 5 to 6 p.m. Program representatives and AmeriCorps members who served last summer will talk about these summer service opportunities. Apply by May 28!

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