Stem the cycle of poverty by joining the Notre Dame Mission
Volunteers in working with East Hartford Public Schools to mentor
children and youth who are behind in literacy. As a member you will
have training, mentorship and direct experience working in a
multicultural urban school system. Members receive a $12,530
stipend, Americorps education grant, and healthcare. First
Congregational Church of East Hartford offers free housing on Main
Street for members who desire a deeper involvement with the East
Please click the link below to learn more about the Urban Education Program and how you can be apart of this opportunity.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Urban Education Immersion Program
Where does the Urban Immersion Program take place?
You can work in an elementary, middle, or high school in East Hartford, Connecticut. The school population in East Hartford is multi-racial and multi-ethnic, with over 50 languages spoken. The population is also very transient – which means children enter the school system at various levels and may not be aware of the resources in town. According to the United Way ALICE report, of the 20,157 households of East Hartford, 53% struggle to make ends meet. There are enough students who qualify for free school lunches that the school system provides free lunch and breakfast for 71% of the student population. At one half of the district’s schools, free and reduced meals are provided to every child. The schools provide tutoring and after-school support, but the need is great. Compassionate, dedicated service members, with an openness to diverse cultures and backgrounds, are sought to support the staff and teachers in East Hartford.
East Hartford is home to many bike paths, parks, including a riverfront park, and a newly renovated library (across street from church housing). East Hartford and Hartford, right over the river, hosts free concerts on the green, free Winterfest activities, free yoga in the park, delicious restaurants, comedy clubs, improv groups, craft beer breweries, funky coffee shops, and dancing of all varieties. Church housing is on multiple bus routes running consistently into Hartford (10 minute ride).
What does an average day look like?
The day would generally start by meeting with the intern’s supervisor to assess the needs and discuss the day’s schedule for instruction. During the school day the intern will lead small groups of students who are struggling with literacy skill development. Using the curriculum and resources provided by the certified teacher, the intern will coach and provide instruction to identified students. After school, the intern will assist the after-school program. The elementary schools’ after-school programs involve homework help and structured educational and extra-curricular activities. The middle school and high school after-school programs are either extra-curricular in nature and at times offer additional supports to students who struggle with reading. During the summer, the interns would support extra-curricular activities at summer meal sites.
What about finances and healthcare?
Members receive a $12,530 (pre-tax) stipend from the Notre Dame Mission Volunteers and healthcare during their year of service. In addition, members receive an Americorps education grant after their year of service. Rent-free housing on Main St is available.
The First Congregational Church of East Hartford welcomes members to live in the Woodward House on Main Street, rent-free. This progressive and diverse congregation has a long history of town involvement and will connect members to town events, services, and community. Members living in church housing are expected to delve deeper into the community in ways meaningful to them, spending approximately 8 hours a month on congregational engagement outside of their direct service in the schools. Interns may present programs to church members on topics of interest to the intern, join in social activities, lead a book study, attend or lead worship, help in the community garden, food bank, or in a project of their choice.
What sort of training and mentorship is provided?
At your school you will be under the direct supervision of a certified teacher, offering daily guidance. Once a month you will meet with other members serving schools in Connecticut for training and support. Twice a year members attend a national training for all Notre Dame Mission Volunteers. Members living in church housing will also receive a spiritual mentor, if they desire. Optional training opportunities are provided throughout the year by the East Hartford Public Schools and by the First Congregational Church.
FAQ about Church Housing for AmeriCorps Interns
The First Congregational Church of East Hartford is thrilled to welcome AmeriCorps members to live in the Woodward House on Main Street, rent-free. This progressive and diverse congregation has a long history of town involvement and will connect members to town events, services, and community. Members living in church housing are expected to delve deeper into the community in ways meaningful to them, spending approximately 8 hours a month on congregational engagement outside of their direct service in the schools.
Why live in Church Housing?
- Living in the community you teach and service, allows you a far deeper understanding of the environment your students are learning in. Church housing places you in the heart of East Hartford, right on Main Street across from the public library, town hall, the Board of Education and cultural center. The church members know the history and culture of the town and how it is likely impacting your students.
- Living in a community of other young people navigating the same program (although at different sites) provides tangible support. Relief and joy come from sharing the delights and challenges over dinner.
What is the relationship between the church and the interns?
The relationship between church and interns is intended to be one of mutual learning and growth, where we can work together as a family to make meaningful change in our world. We want you to look back and think of the church as the fun family that was overflowing with love and support during your year of service.
How does the church support the interns?
- Fully furnished living accommodations. Kitchen stocked with every utensil and cooking equipment you could need. Private bedroom with bed, closet, dresser, blinds, ceiling fan, etc. The house also includes a living room, dining room, library/study, and mini-prayer room. Bring your clothes and bedding and you are set for the year.
- Personal Tour Guides. The church members know all the ins and outs of the town (and surrounding towns) to help you find everything from the best grocery store to bike paths to free concerts.
- Welcome Wagon filled with essentials to help you get settled in your new home.
- Church Companion. This is a church person who can help match your gifts and passions to the work of the church and community. They will introduce you to people that you will click with.
- Spiritual Sojourner. If you would like, the church will pair you with someone to help navigate questions about faith. These people won’t give you quick or simple answers, but instead help you discover your own answers.
What are the expectations of the interns?
Interns are expected to delve deeper into the community outside of the school they serve in, building their understanding of the impact the wider community, including church, has on students. To this end, interns in church housing are expected to:
- Spend 8 hours a month on congregational engagement outside their direct service in the school.
- Participate in regular house meetings facilitated by the church house meeting convener
- Maintain open communication with your church companion
- Respect the property and other residents as outlined in the housing agreement
- Complete an end of the year evaluation
Do I need to be Christian to be welcome to live in Church housing?
No, you do not need to be Christian. However, you must be open to working with church people while serving the community.
What “counts” for the 8 hours of congregational engagement?
Nearly anything that involves the church counts, but we hope you will take this opportunity to take initiative, share your unique gifts and explore how the church impacts and serves the town. Some examples include:
- Work with church Green Team on environmental issues
- Tend to the Community Garden on-site
- Work with Hunger Action Team in town
- Coordinate a special speaker or presentation for church members on a relevant topic of mutual interest (past topics include immigration, local farming, GLBT rights, recycling, etc.)
- Organize an event for children in the neighborhood (ex. Movie night; babysitting for parents to go Christmas shopping, etc.)
- Participate in one of the small groups of the church (knitting club, women’s group, craft nights, etc.) or start your own
- Lead a book study or educational program
- Participate in advertising and recruiting goods for Christmas toy drive, food bank, supplies for shelter or other cause that is important to you
- Assistant teacher in the Sunday School
- Sing in the choir, usher during worship services, participate in worship, join the Praise Band
- Serve coffee or bake goods for church coffee hour.
- Join church clean up days or assist office staff
- Help at the Church Fair in November
- Help at the Pancake Breakfast which raises money for East Hartford children in need in December
- Share your unique passion and gifts with the faith community!
What kind of Church is this?
First Congregational Church is a fun, open and affirming congregation of people from diverse backgrounds and different ideas. Jesus Christ is our inspiration and our guide for our personal lives and for making a just world for all people. We are part of the United Church of Christ (www.ucc.org) a denomination that goes back to the pilgrims and is continually on the forefront of progressive issues (i.e. first to ordain women, GLBT folks, etc.). Our open and affirming statement says it nicely: We welcome into our full life and ministry, children of God, people of every race, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, ability and economic status. We believe that we can all grow and practice a unity of faith that will transcend our difference and together be a living testimony of God’s steadfast love. We embrace the amazing diversity of God’s creation and believe everyone is created in God’s image. Therefore, everyone is unique, valuable, and loved by God.
What are the house rules?
The housing agreement looks like your standard lease agreement with any apartment you would rent. No pets. No illegal drugs. No weapons. No smoking. No candles or open flames. Be a law-abiding citizen, keep the place tidy, and take out the trash every week. We encourage you to be good stewards of our sacred natural resources by recycling and conserving energy.
What is the next step? How do I apply?
- Apply to the Notre Dame Mission Volunteers AmeriCorps by calling the regional coordinator, Jessica Kanoff at 203-848-9903 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can begin the online application process by going here. An AmeriCorps criminal history check will be required.
- After being accepted to the NDMV AmeriCorps, you will be connected to the East Hartford Public Schools for an interview and school placement. Learn more about the EHPS here.
- After you have been accepted into the AmeriCorps program, you are eligible for Church Housing. The interview will help us get to know each other, discern how you might best share your unique gifts, how we can best support you, and answer questions you may have. Email your interest to Louise Holmes at the church office (email@example.com) or call 860-528-3133. We will schedule a simple skype interview.