March 12, 2024

AdviseAZ, AmeriCorps, and the Legacy of Service

Education Forward Arizona’s AdviseAZ program is funded by an AmeriCorps grant. AmeriCorps is a federally funded commitment to strengthening communities through volunteer service. Signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, AmeriCorps is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and Education Forward Arizona and AdviseAZ are proud to be a part of that legacy.  

Founded in 2019, AdviseAZ reflects AmeriCorps’ motto of “getting things done.” Members serve their communities by helping more Arizona high students pursue postsecondary education or training. Advisers work part-time and focus on guiding students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, through the complex steps toward college enrollment. This can include one-on-one or group workshops on financial aid, college applications, personal statements, or career pathways. When AdviseAZ members mentor these students, they are expanding the opportunity of what’s possible in their lives.  They are passing the torch for a better quality of life for themselves and their families. 

“Getting Things Done” for Arizona  

Since its inception, AdviseAZ has recruited college students and recent college graduates from across Arizona to advance the college-going culture in their communities. The AdviseAZ program plays a pivotal role in supporting Arizona’s Achieve60AZ attainment goal, which strives for 60 percent of Arizona residents ages 25-64 complete a 2 or 4-year college degree or obtain an active professional certificate or license by the year 2030.  

For AdviseAZ member Nisha Reddy, attainment is always on her mind as she advises students at College Bound AZ.  

“As an AmeriCorps member, I strive to give back to the high school community in the Phoenix area that has provided me with opportunities to grow and develop academically and socially into the individual I am today,” Reddy said. “There are many underrepresented students that are missing a firm support system, and I hope to be a mentor that can help empower them to achieve their career goals.”  

Former member Ebony Koger, who also served at College Bound AZ, emphasized the pressure that many Arizona students face while balancing post-secondary education or career plans with other life stressors.  

“A teenage girl asked me to show her where the bathroom was,” Koger said. “She confided in me that she was having a panic attack and didn’t think she was good enough for college. I was able to talk her down and reassure her that she had what it takes to be successful in school.” 

For many AdviseAZ members, it’s these small moments of encouragement that not only define their AmeriCorps service, but also their vision for their own education and career paths as they navigate their college years.  

“Working with AdviseAZ has positively impacted both my personal and professional life,” said former member Surabhi Sajith, who served at College Connect in Tempe. “As an AdviseAZ member, I have become more comfortable working with both professionals with more experience than me as well as working with students that have not experienced higher education or a job yet. These communication skills have been invaluable to me as a current college student and as an aspiring professional.” 

Education Forward Arizona and AmeriCorps Legacy of Service  

Along with AdviseAZ, AmeriCorps maintains a strong presence throughout the Education Forward Arizona organization. AmeriCorps alumni work across the organization to help strengthen our motto that Arizona has “Everything to Gain” when students continue their training and education after high school.  

Kyle Lundberg treasures the values, perspectives, and experiences he gained during his year as a VISTA member in Phoenix in 2015. He served as a public communications specialist for the refugee resettlement program of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest.  Now, Lundberg serves as an outreach specialist for Education Forward Arizona’s AdviseAZ program.  

“Learning about the resiliency of refugee communities was deeply impactful for me as a young professional,” said Lundberg. “As someone who was new to Arizona, it gave me an issue to advocate for, and it inspired in me a desire to give back to my community. It also gave me a love and appreciation for the world of nonprofits. Little did I know that, years later, I would have the opportunity to recruit for and maintain an AmeriCorps program through AdviseAZ.”  

Johnathon Moore, project coordinator for AdviseAZ, has also been able to harness the passion for service he gained while serving with AmeriCorps in Kansas City, Missouri in the 90’s. He highlighted the importance of enjoying every moment and not taking these transformative experiences for granted.  

“It’s embracing this once in a lifetime opportunity that opens your eyes to a whole new way of living, serving, and making a difference for the common good,” he said. “If I can positively impact at least one person, that will set a course for a better life for that person, their family, and their community.” 

Kyle Knox is another Education Forward Arizona employee that has been deeply impacted by his time in AmeriCorps. Working as a success adviser, he helps guide students through college life via 1-on-1 mentoring. His current work is directly connected to his time serving with AmeriCorps at ASU’s Educational Outreach and Student Services Program in 2018. Knox shared that one of the most impactful lessons he learned during his service was the value of sharing your hopes, dreams, and vision with students that goes beyond simply knowing how to help them with academic or career support.  

“Often, students would approach me for more information about my major, my story, the neighborhood I come from, etc.,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much my story resonated with potential college students. It was rewarding to show them what they could do when they applied themselves and their talents towards their goals.”  

Knox highlighted how his work with students as an AmeriCorps member led to his current role. “It ultimately helped open my eyes to the impact I can have working with students again today, which is why I set out to work as a success adviser at Education Forward Arizona.” 

David Aldaco, project coordinator for Education Forward Arizona’s College Knowing and Going Program, explained that his passion for seeing students succeed was sparked during his AmeriCorps service at College Depot in Phoenix from 2015-2018. He has been able to leverage that passion in his current role, where he is helping rural communities with the resources they need for college and career attainment.  

“Helping students enroll in and complete college has been an incredibly rewarding aspect of my service,” he said. “Seeing students whom I’ve assisted graduate is a full-circle moment that fills me with pride and joy. My time with AmeriCorps wasn’t just a job; it was a journey that truly shaped who I am today, both in my work and in how I view the world,” he continued. “It’s been more than building a resume; it’s been about building a life committed to making the world a better place.”  

To learn more about our AdviseAZ program, click here.