The partnership kicks off Service Year Alliance’s new community of practice that aims to create, test, measure, and spread effective practices that help AmeriCorps members develop as life-long bridgers

AmeriCorps’ newly appointed Bridging Fellow, Jennifer Leshnower, will lead the work for the federal agency

WASHINGTON, DC – Service Year Alliance and the AmeriCorps federal agency announced a partnership today to better support AmeriCorps programs across the country in developing AmeriCorps members as life-long bridgers. The multi-year project, funded in part by Einhorn Collaborative, was launched in response to President Biden’s call to service to combat hate-fueled violence at the United We Stand summit last fall. 

The partnership will fuel Service Year Alliance’s efforts to cultivate a first-of-its-kind community of practice to bring together a wide range of AmeriCorps programs, state service commissions, and leaders in the bridging and democracy-building sector to examine, create, test, measure, and spread effective practices and interventions during an AmeriCorps service year that best develop AmeriCorps members as active citizens and arm them with the skills and motivations to bridge divides in our society. 

This project will benefit from the expertise and knowledge of Jennifer Leshnower, the newly appointed Bridging Fellow at AmeriCorps. Jennifer previously served as Special Advisor for Member Experience at California Volunteers in the Office of the Governor. In this role, she designed and led the member experience for 3,200 College Corps Fellows, fostering cross-organizational partnerships and implementing interventions that facilitated leadership development and personal growth through bridging, reflection, and professional networking. She is a proud Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Saint Lucia, Eastern Caribbean) and an AmeriCorps VISTA Alum (Newark, DE). 

“This partnership between AmeriCorps and Service Year Alliance will help unite our nation and combat hate-fueled violence we see across the country,” said Michael D. Smith, AmeriCorps CEO. “Together, we will identify and scale effective solutions and showcase how service builds bridges and helps us see each other’s humanity.”

This project’s goal is to equip the AmeriCorps ecosystem with the tools and resources they need to increase social cohesion and advance bridging through their term of service and beyond. The results of this partnership will inform how state and federal policies can scale and sustain this work long-term. 

“We’ve long known that service years develop more understanding and empathetic citizens who volunteer, vote, and engage in their community at a much higher rate than their peers,” said Kristen Bennett, CEO of Service Year Alliance. “In addition to transforming young people’s lives and strengthening communities across the country, service years develop bridgers and fuel civic renewal in America. Service Year Alliance is grateful for this new partnership with AmeriCorps and is eager to bring our expertise in leading intentional communities of practice to this work to better understand the curriculum, interventions, trainings, and practices that can be scaled to develop a talent pipeline for America’s future leaders.”

“National service empowers young people to build meaningful relationships across lines of difference, deepen their commitment to the communities they serve, and take on the most pressing challenges of our time,” said Jennifer Hoos Rothberg, Executive Director of Einhorn Collaborative. “By working with people of different backgrounds and lived experiences during their year of service, young people gain the skills and mindsets to bridge divides, foster a sense of belonging for others, and build toward a more connected society. We are thrilled to support AmeriCorps and Service Year Alliance as they take on this project to build and strengthen bridging practices across the national service ecosystem.”