A new grant-funded program will position Drake University as a strategic leader in community health across the state of Iowa and increase financial aid to Drake students who are engaged in public service.
The Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service issued $166,348 in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service this summer to launch the new AmeriCorps Community Health Coaches Program.
The program sends 10 full-time and 10 part-time AmeriCorps members—a combination of graduate and undergraduate students at Drake University—into rural and underserved urban areas across Iowa to develop practices that improve the health of residents in those communities.
“The program is a model for national service and utilizing private-public partnerships to meet measurable outcomes related to health in our state,” said Mandi McReynolds, director of community engagement and service-learning at Drake University. “It demonstrates Drake University’s commitment to serve the communities of which we are a part and become a national leader in innovation around service, community and economic development, and education.”
AmeriCorps members will serve as liaisons between Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative and local schools, businesses, and community organizations to foster the establishment of smarter lunchrooms, safer walking routes to schools, community gardens, and tobacco free workplaces.
“We are excited to partner with Drake University to build capacity within local communities to support our efforts to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation,” said Jami S. Haberl, executive director of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative.
Ten Drake University graduate students will work as full-time AmeriCorps members on the project from Sept. 1, 2015 to Aug. 31, 2016, while another 10 undergraduate students will work part-time in communities during summer 2016. Participation is open to students of any major or degree program, and the state has dedicated more than $68,000 in education awards for student participants.
“This presents students the opportunity to work on a statewide health initiative and see the benefits that can bring through first-hand grassroots application,” McReynolds said. “That kind of experience is applicable to students of any academic background or career aspiration.”
Healthiest State Initiative is collaborating with Drake to recruit and select host sites for the AmeriCorps Community Health Coaches Program. Non-profits, municipalities, schools, and government agencies interested in serving as host sites may apply at http://www.iowahealthieststate.com/americorps-community-health until July 24.
Drake University is a midsize, private university in Des Moines, Iowa, enrolling more than 3,300 undergraduate and 1,700 graduate students from 40 states and approximately 40 countries. Students choose from over 70 majors, minors, and concentrations and 20 graduate degrees offered through six colleges and schools. Drake students, faculty, and staff take advantage of the wealth of cultural, recreational, and business opportunities found in Iowa’s capital city. In return, Drake enriches the city through its own cultural offerings, considerable economic impact, and many service-learning endeavors, which channel the talent and energy of the Drake students toward meeting the needs of the community.
The Healthiest State Initiative is a privately led, public effort that engages Iowans and their communities throughout the state. It involves individuals, families, businesses, faith-based organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a broad-based, community-focused effort. For more information, visit www.iowahealthieststate.com.