February 25, 2020

County may receive AmeriCorps educator if sufficient funding raised

Expected to supplement MSUE programs


MIO — Michigan State University Extension employees are attempting to raise funds in order to bring an AmeriCorps educator to the county.

At the June 27 county workshop MSUE District 4 Coordinator Mischelle Warner said the county earned the opportunity to be one of 30 counties in the state to receive an AmeriCorps volunteer. She wants to make sure the opportunity is acted upon.

“If we think about what we are getting for the money, what we are getting for the community, I think we have to apply,” she said.

The AmeriCorps educator would provide similar opportunities for local children as the current MSUE coordinator does, but would not replace the MSUE educator, who has been working out of Mio AuSable and Fairview Area schools since the beginning of 2019. The two people would work in tandem, hopefully growing the various children’s programs more than a single MSUE coordinator could.

In order for the county to receive an AmeriCorps educator, at least $2,700 must be collected to help pay for the person’s stipend. That money would be enough to afford a part-time educator. In order to have a full-time educator, $5,000 must be raised. Warner has taken the lead in raising the funds for the AmeriCorps educator, and said she’s made good progress already.

“I don’t know where else we are going to get a full-time person for $5,000,” Warner said. “So I either have to raise $900, or $2,900.”

The money Warner is raising would go toward the AmeriCorp educators living allowance. In addition to that allowance AmeriCorp educator’s receive a stipend for their college education that is equal to what the federal Pell Grant is for that year if they complete their full-time service. AmeriCorp’s website says that to earn the full-time stipend they must serve at least 1,700 hours.

Warner said she recently went through this process in Roscommon and Iosco counties, and she was surprised by the level of success.

“Both (counties) have seen significant increases to 4-H participation and outreach,” she said. “It’s due to the two individuals we brought on board. Now we have people calling us, asking how they can volunteer.”

Warner said if she is able to raise enough money for an educator, they will begin work in October and continue through August. It translates to roughly an 11-month stint. However, that could be shorter or longer depending on how many hours the AmeriCorps educator works in that time.

The tentative deadline for raising the money for the educator is Aug. 15. However, Warner set that date for herself. The official cutoff date is Oct. 1. Warner is raising the money by going to local municipalities and other charitable entities asking for donations.

Both Mio AuSable and Fairview Area schools have signed on to have MSUE work out of their buildings for the 2019-20 school year, as they did the previous year.


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