VISTA, School Advisory Councils Support, SDP

Posted by on January 28, 2013

Help Philadelphia communities help their struggling schools…

The School District of Philadelphia seeks a full-time AmeriCorps*VISTA to develop and support School Advisory Councils (SACs) at Renaissance Schools.

About Renaissance Schools and School Advisory Councils
On January 27, 2010, the School District of Philadelphia launched the Renaissance Schools initiative.  The initiative is aimed at bringing transformative changes to the District’s lowest performing schools in order to bring about dramatic improvement in student achievement.

Now in its third year, the Renaissance Schools initiative is aimed at bringing transformative changes to the District’s lowest performing schools by working with school communities to recruit and select individuals and organizations that have proven track records of operating and supporting high-achieving schools.

The District believes that these components must be implemented with rigor and transparency in order to create an effective and lasting process for turning around failing schools in Philadelphia.

Currently, there are 17 Renaissance Schools in Philadelphia.  Each of these schools is mandated to have a functioning School Advisory Council (SAC) which is comprised of parents/grandparents and other community members.

About the position:

The AmeriCorps*VISTA sought for this coming year will work with the Office of Charter Schools to help develop and support School Advisory Councils (SACs) at Renaissance Schools.  The SAC VISTA will work with existing staff to identify the SAC members at each Renaissance School, help ensure that the SACs are meeting and functioning, serve as a liaison between the SACs and the District, and help organize and conduct District-wide meetings and trainings for SAC leaders.

Primary Goals:

For existing Renaissance Schools:
•    Establish positive and productive relationships and partnerships with community partners to foster collaboration and support for the Renaissance Schools initiative.
•    Maintain database of SACs
•    Provide assistance to SACs that are not functioning adequately by helping to recruit additional members, assisting in the preparation of by-laws, etc.
•    Serve as main point of contact within Office of Charter Schools to SACs, including by responding to emails and phone calls from SAC members, attending SAC meetings (as needed), and disseminating information from the Office of Charter Schools to SACs.
•    Assist in organizing and conducting SAC-wide meetings, which the Office of Charter Schools plans to host four times per year (two of the meetings will focus on preparation of the SACs’ semi-annual reports and two on other topics of interest, such as community engagement, understanding school data, etc.).
For new 2013-2014 Renaissance Schools:
•    Collaborate with the responsible District staff to promote, recruit, and engage community members around the Renaissance Schools Initiative and, specifically, School Advisory Councils.
•    Participate in the review and final recommendations of Turnaround Team finalists, which propose curriculums and models that support the needs of the identified schools.
•    Ensure continuity and engagement of SACs throughout the matching, incubation, and transition periods for each new Renaissance School.
•    Support identified Renaissance Schools by conducting periodic visits to the school to address ongoing questions, issues and concerns of parents and minimize as much as possible the disruption in the school.

AmeriCorps*VISTA needed for this program should be:
–    self-motivated and self-directed
–    able to network and build relationships with diverse constituencies
–    comfortable in different institutional settings (school-based, community-based, etc.)
–    a quick learner
–    comfortable with a work environment that is primarily office-based, but with regular travel to public schools and other sites as needed
–    able to navigate public transit (or with access to a car though public transit preferred)
–    familiar with the general landscape of urban schooling, community partnerships, and parent/community involvement
–    passionate about improving educational opportunities for low-income youth

–    January 28-March 12– Applications accepted
–    March 13 – March 15 Interviews
–    March 18 – Candidate selected
–    March 21 – Candidate commitment expected
–    April 2013 – VISTA term begins
–    April 2014 – VISTA term ends

AmeriCorps*VISTAs commit to a full-time year of service for a minimal living stipend of approximately $12,962 per year.  VISTA members are provided health insurance and loan forbearance for any current federal student loans.  Upon completion of the full year, they also receive an AmeriCorps Education Award of $5500 that can be used to pay for future educational expenses and/or pay off student loans.

All interested applicants should contact Eden Kainer ( or Kate Boccella-Perras ( for more information.  Both can also be reached at 215-573-2379.  To formally apply, all candidates must complete the AmeriCorps application at:

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