WT AmeriCorps seeking community partners throughout Texas Panhandle

Schools, towns and organizations across the Panhandle are sought to collaborate with a West Texas A&M University program that provides help for rural communities in need.

The WT AmeriCorps program recruits members to work in high schools, community colleges, municipalities, nonprofits and community organizations around the region.

“We’re there to augment the resources in those communities to help them address their most pressing challenges and meet their needs,” said Laura Seals, assistant director of WT AmeriCorps. “We want to collaborate with and support organizations to see more community resilience throughout the Panhandle and Texas High Plains. Our partners are doing such great work, and we want to come alongside them to see the organizations and communities thrive.”

Since fall 2020, 80 AmeriCorps members have worked with 28 community organizations or educational institutions in 16 communities and 11 counties in the Texas Panhandle, completing a cumulative 50,000 hours of service and earning more than $110,000 to cover postsecondary expenses.

Past partners include Pampa High School, Tulia High School, the City of Dalhart, the City of Friona, Frank Phillips College, the Don Harrington Discovery Center, Speiro Legacies, Square Mile and Cactus Nazarene Ministries. 

“AmeriCorps and Cactus Nazarene Ministries have a common goal—long-term upliftment of our communities and starting that work from within,” said Alshandra Visagie, executive director of Cactus Nazarene Ministries. “We partner well because we agree that we can find people locally, and they can develop skills and serve their community. They can become the future leaders of their community. That’s what excites me about our partnership, and that's what I think is the core value of the way in which we’ve addressed our partnership.”

Mary Barker, a counselor and GED facilitator at Frank Phillips College–Dalhart, said meeting all the needs of a community is difficult, but AmeriCorps is a valuable partner.

“AmeriCorps is flexible enough that we can provide help in numerous ways throughout the community,” Barker said. “It is also a great networking opportunity to connect with other community leaders and people working to address the needs of their communities. We can learn from each other, and that’s a valuable experience.”

WT AmeriCorps works with partners to recruit members from those communities; existing members also may be assigned to new sites.

Partnering with AmeriCorps can expand an organization’s capacity to further its mission and reach organizational goals, as well as increasing the opportunity for greater impact, Seals said. WT AmeriCorps focuses on economic opportunity, education, healthy futures and environmental stewardship.

WT AmeriCorps is a program of the University’s Office of Academic and Regional Collaboration, funded in part by a grant, now in its third year, from the OneStar Foundation.

Mentors can be students from WT, Amarillo College, Frank Phillips College and Clarendon College, as well as retired teachers, counselors and other members of the community.

To be eligible to serve in AmeriCorps, applicants must be 18 years or older, U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and must pass appropriate background checks.

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