United Way of Metropolitan Chicago is fortunate to have 12 AmeriCorps members with us for the next year. Members have been placed in each of our Neighborhood Network communities, working on the ground in neighborhoods on their bold goals for change. Each month, we will feature a Q&A with one of the Members to share a little more about their work with us.
Michael A. Jackson Jr.
Why did you apply to be an AmeriCorps Member?
When I applied to be an AmeriCorps member it was a very spontaneous thing. I was a bit unsure of the opportunity, but ultimately decided to stay on board after weighing my options. AmeriCorps was the best decision because it allowed a year to regroup from the past year as well as gain practical experience.
What Neighborhood Network community are you placed with?
I am placed with Evanston. It is a joint effort between Evanston Cradle to Career and Family Focus Evanston.
What is your role as an AmeriCorps Member?
I have several roles. I’ve joined a few committees and help run an after school program at Family Focus. My main role is helping Evanston Cradle to Career accomplish their goal of achieving equity in Evanston through collective impact.
What have you learned in your role?
I’ve learned that social work can become very political. I am a social work major at Northeastern Illinois University, so my heart is with helping people. However, working in my Neighborhood Network community has exposed me to a different side of social work. It has shown me that political obstacles can prevent you from executing your goals. You must be patient. How you handle a hindrance can really change the outcome of events.
What do you want individuals to know about your Neighborhood Network community?
I would like people to know that Evanston, although very diverse, is very segregated. Many people will question the city’s position as a Neighborhood Network. Evanston is rich in diversity, but the city does possess racial, economic, social, and political issues that are consistently veiled.
What do you hope to accomplish during your year of service?
I hope grow as a person, to possess more self confidence and be more honest and true to myself.
What were you doing prior to the AmeriCorps Program?
Prior to AmeriCorps, I was working toward an MSW (Master of Social Work) degree in an accelerated program at Northeastern Illinois University. I was also recording original music. I will still actively do these tasks during my year of service.
Funding for AmeriCorps provided in part by Corporation for National and Community Service, and Serve Illinois / Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.