Albright College graduate returns as AmeriCorps volunteer

Jasmine Clarke will recruit volunteers to assist with tutoring program

READING, Pa. - A recent Albright College graduate is giving back to her school by serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer.

Jasmine Clarke, a member of Albright's class of 2014, has begun year-long service as a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA), a national anti-poverty effort in which volunteers focus on fighting illiteracy, improving health services and fostering economic development.

"I am interested in giving back to the community that became my home for the past four years as an undergraduate student," said Clarke, a native of Ossining, New York, who earned a bachelor's degree in communications. "Being back at Albright in this capacity means I have an opportunity to do more to make a difference and create change for a better educational environment."

Clarke will recruit volunteers to assist with a tutoring program that pairs Albright students with students at 13th and Union Elementary School, which sits on the edge of the college's campus.

The program provides help as part of the United Way of Berks County's Ready. Set. Read! effort, which seeks to have all county students reading on level by the end of third grade.

Clarke will also engage in community outreach and work with the Albright Early Learning Center (AELC) to create opportunities for at-risk Latino children to attend full-time preschool/childcare.

"I am hoping to accomplish, through this opportunity, a system that allows parents and students to become more knowledgeable about educational resources. I want to see Reading students succeed," Clarke said. "I also hope to break the language barriers and provide support and confidence for at-risk Latino youth to excel."

Clarke's familiarity with Albright's campus and its surrounding community provides her with an advantage over her fellow volunteers in the VISTA program, according to Dorothea Miller, coordinator of the Albright-13th and Union partnership.

"Part of the difficulty with a VISTA is that they spend a great deal of time getting to know an area before they're able to do outreach," Miller said. "Because Jasmine knows Albright College, she'll be able to get involved with the neighborhood right away."

VISTA members are not paid but do receive living allowances.

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