Each year, AmeriCorps members across the country commit to a year of service at College Possible, coaching more than 25,000 high school and college students annually. AmeriCorps Welcome Weeks marks the official kickoff of the College Possible AmeriCorps service year. Typically starting the second week in August, this three-week training period equips AmeriCorps members with necessary coaching skills, without the pressure of interacting with students right off the bat.
“College Possible is more than just a program; it’s a national movement driven by a deep sense of civic responsibility to bridge the degree equity gap,” says Josh Newby, director of curriculum and instruction with College Possible. “As an AmeriCorps coach, you have the opportunity to influence meaningful change and leave a lasting legacy in your community. We use Welcome Weeks to center ourselves in the AmeriCorps spirit and the core values that guide our work: student success, inclusive culture, teamwork, impact, and growth and innovation.”
Let’s take a look at what incoming AmeriCorps coaches can expect to learn during Welcome Weeks.
How you’ll support the academic success of College Possible students
AmeriCorps college access and success coaches serve as near-peer support to either junior and senior high school students, or college students who are enrolled in the College Possible program. Catalyze coaches are AmeriCorps members who are completing their service term at their alma mater college. They receive a unique onboarding experience at their service university.
During the first five days of Welcome Weeks, college access and success coaches will be introduced to College Possible’s organization, culture, and their local team, as well as the national team leaders. You’ll attend in-depth sessions on AmeriCorps benefits, College Possible’s mission and values and the current education landscape.
Much of your first week is focused on building and strengthening the community you’ll be spending your service year with. You are joining a network of hundreds of AmeriCorps coaches and a national community of practice working toward the same goal: Helping students achieve their dream of earning a college degree. The week ends with an alumni coach and student panel discussion where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions.
Systems and software used to track student progress
After week one of Welcome Weeks, your service location leaders will train you on Salesforce basics, the platform we use to track student data and progress. We’ll cover topics like student data privacy, and how to keep students’ personal information safe when sending information to other staff members or our partners.
Additionally, you’ll learn about how to manage student data portfolios and pull specific Salesforce reports to help better serve your student cohort. Salesforce expertise is just one of the many transferable skills you’ll develop throughout your service year. “Your service year presents a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth,” says DiLiesha Bryant, director of AmeriCorps recruitment and engagement with College Possible. “We don’t expect anyone to come in and have prior experience in Salesforce, but you’ll be an expert in it by the time you complete your service year. These training and development opportunities provided by College Possible and AmeriCorps are all designed to help you land your next role, post service.”
Skills for coaching a diverse student cohort
The second and third weeks of Welcome Weeks will prepare you to holistically serve students from a variety of backgrounds and identities. A majority of College Possible students are first-generation college students (meaning they’re the first in their family to go to college), persons of color, and students from limited-income backgrounds. You’ll attend onboarding session with topics on diversity, equity and inclusion, LGBTQIA+ allyship, and anti-oppression to help you better connect with the wide array of students you’ll serve.
Training sessions on university match and fit, and college applications and admissions will be offered to college access coaches who serve high school students. In addition, all coaches will receive training on time management skills, building a balanced target college list, coaching as a skillset and supporting students in crisis. These are just a few of the topics that will be discussed in virtual and in-person sessions at your service location. At the end of Welcome Weeks, you’ll feel prepared to meet your student cohort and start the school year.
Welcome Weeks is an exciting time to get to know your fellow AmeriCorps service members, your site team members, and build on the skills that you’ll carry into the school year and throughout your career. We’re excited to meet you and look forward to seeing the impact you make alongside your fellow service members.