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Stockton launches California's first AmeriCorps service initiative

The first of its kind program in California launched in Stockton after months of negotiation.

STOCKTON, California — After months of negotiation, a first of its kind program in California was launched in Stockton. 

The Stockton Service Corps. program hires people to help students attend college, improve literacy and math, and help troubled students stay in school. It's being supported with an investment of $12 million over six years through the governor's office.

Celine Pham of Stockton is one of the new "fellows" determined to make a difference in the lives of young people in her city. At one point, she was at crossroads in her own life, where she thought of dropping out of college to take a warehouse job.

She was in that mindset until a college professor told her about the Stockton Service Corps. Pham is one of 100 "fellows" in the program.

"It's nice to know that I can give back to my community," said Pham.

Pham will be a tutor to troubled high school kids through the non-profit Fathers and Families of San Joaquin. It's one of five non-profits that will benefit.

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Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs spent months in negotiations for the program to get its first start in the Port City.

"The partnership with AmeriCorps gives Stocktonians a venue to serve, but, also, particularly for Stocktonians who are retired and still want to be contributing, [it] allows them to tutor in literacy and then have money for their grandkids' college education," said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs.

Each full-time AmeriCorps member is eligible for $10,000 toward a child or grandchild furthering their education when they graduate from high school.

Fellows are also paid a stipend depending on their hours and job. Some work just a few hours a week or more.

"For a full-time AmeriCorps member, it can range from $15,000 to $24,000 during the course of the year," said Sonali Nijhawan, Stockton Service Corps Director.

Sandy Drain, a retired AT&T I.T. project manager, wanted to give back to her community by teaching kindergarten through third grade students how to improve their reading skills.

"And, I needed to give to myself, to grow myself," said Drain, who tutors at El Dorado Elementary School in Stockton. She tutors five days a week, four hours a day.

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To learn more about AmeriCorps go to Stocktonservicecorps.org.                     

To learn how to become a tutor through AmeriCorps go to Californiareadingcorps.org.

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