Case Study City Year: The Journey

Case Study City Year: The Journey

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In November of 2011, Michael Brown, CEO and co-founder of City Year, Inc., reviewed the organization’s progress in its ongoing transition during a meeting with Jim Balfanz, City Year President. City Year was founded to promote national citizen service as a means to build democracy. Throughout its first two decades, the non-profit recruited young adults to give a year of public service. These “corps members” learned leadership while performing services such as cleaning parks, feeding the hungry, and working in afterschool programs. City Year also organized day-long service projects for local volunteers and worked with policymakers to promote national service. City Year was recognized as a model for AmeriCorps.

In the early years of the new century, Brown and his team saw that City Year needed to make a more measurable impact on a significant challenge facing the U.S. if they hoped to meet the full potential of proving the value of national service. By 2011, nearly all of its over 2,000 corps members were focused on addressing the high school dropout crisis in underperforming urban school systems in 22 U.S cities. (See U.S. Cities Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 for financial data, Exhibit 4 for historical data, and Exhibit 5 for program and location data.) Brown said, “In the past few years, we had to stop doing some things that we have done well in the past to focus on education. This has been hard. But we have been at this for 23 years now, and I’ve never been more excited about the work, because it’s never been more powerful and relevant.”

1. What was City Year’s mission? Were they effective in trying to achieve their mission?

2. Did City Year’s partnership with Diplomas Now create a greater impact? If so, how?

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