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City Year Reviews

3.6
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Recommend to a friend
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City Year CEO Michael Brown
Michael Brown
141 Ratings
  • Helpful (4)

    City Year is like putting a bandaid on a severed limb.

    • Culture & Values
    Former Employee - Corps Member in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Corps Member in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at City Year full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The kids. Your teacher (if you're lucky). Your team (if you're lucky). GOING TO THE WHITE HOUSE to see OBAMA and CLINTON (thank you, Americorps!)

    Cons

    I remember looking and reading the reviews on glassdoor a year ago. I saw many things about the service year being difficult, disorganized and time consuming, but did not anticipate just what I was getting myself into. The past year was hard, but in the worst way possible. I did not grow from the experience, but instead learned how a nonprofit that has good intentions can be run in unproductive ways and how a school should NOT be run. First there was "Basic Training Academy" where I cannot tell you one thing that I internalized other than City Year's cult-like culture. Only those with extroverted personalities were highlighted and they made it seem as though only those who accepted the culture would be able to build relationships and have the best impact on their students. A good chunk of the trainings were led by individuals who found statistics on wikipedia and regurgitated information from a cool article they read a month ago. Many of the questions corps members had about their school experience were unanswerable because "it depends on your school" or they literally did not have an answer. Once we finally got to our school, our Program Manager(PM) made all of these empty promises that she never followed up on like, always standing up for us and being our voice in times of trouble. Most days she showed up late because she was "flexing" and then she always had last minute emails to send/busy work she could have done at home but chose to do at school (I won't even mention her snapchat addiction). One of the worst parts is that corps members are expected to be in the classroom ALL DAY, do small groups, transition classes, have recess duty, run after school programs and more, while the Team Leader (TL) and PM sit in a room and gossip all day. When corps members bring up an issue we are treated like abandoned step children who are incapable of making decisions. Our concerns were often met with pushback as though our 40 hours a week inside of a classroom where a teacher appears to be a pedophile, are ignored. Our monthly trainings although are a break from the long days in school are pointless, you are told by leadership that you're never doing enough to help the kids. And given the amount of reflection we are required to have/share you would think that your voice/opinion was actually valuable, wrong! CY staff is full of former [ineffective] teachers, former corps members who haven't found their calling (or want to relive their college years) and inexperienced/entry level professionals who think they know everything there is to know about making a positive difference on a child's life with no help from CMs. You are expected to be in class for a whole day, meet with your small groups, have lunch buddies, prep, turn in trackers, get yelled at by school staff, plan with your teacher, manage recess and so much more. Let's not even talk about the bright red jacket/City Year uniform you are expected to wear every single day. That uniform is trash, it removes any sense of individuality you thought you had and is only good for getting those really tough stains out your tub and toilet. THOSE POOR STUDENTS... Looking back on my CY experience (as i train to become a REAL teacher), I feel terrible that my students and partner-teacher had to put up with my presence for a whole year. I honestly feel like my ignorance throughout my time made my teacher less effective and students ended up relying on me to help them with everything rather than become independent problem solvers. CMs are poorly trained for a few weeks and then they're thrown into a classroom. CY says that CMs are going to tutor students in reading and math, but the training is so bad, who knows what's going on in those small groups. And who knows how CMs are utilized in the classroom. Most times they end up with the role of a teachers aid or disciplinarian and students become dependent on them. CY is generally in low performing, underrepresented minority schools, throwing inexperienced CMs into a classroom is not going to suddenly 'save the day' and melt away the heritage of inequality that these students are branded with. In fact, I would go as far to say that CY is maintaining the achievement gap that these students are cursed with from birth. Every year there are new corps members to train and the students have to build all new relationships, hurting their socioemotional skills/ ability to build relationships with adults. If anyone is truly looking to close the inequality gap in public school education, invest in QUALITY TEACHERS, and then CY's existence will not be necessary.

    Advice to Management

    Stop asking people for money to maintain the inequality of education that exists in America. A saying I often think of is "good intentions are the pathway to hell." You people at the top can have the best of intentions but if you have no idea what goes on day to day then you have no right to allow this organization to continue with its work. By day to day I don't mean looking at a schedule on a PDF from your office, but spending days at a time in the classroom to really see whats going on.


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