City Year

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City Year Reviews

Updated Jul 14, 2014

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3.5 163 reviews

91% Approve of the CEO

City Year President Michael Brown

Michael Brown

(78 ratings)

67% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • The students, the team I worked with, experience of working with a nonprofit and making a difference were all major pros to this experience(in 8 reviews)

  • There is support from corps members, team leaders, program managers, ect(in 12 reviews)


Cons
  • Long hours worked with little recognition for efforts(in 37 reviews)

  • Also - if Corps members around you decide to be negative, it's hard to fight it(in 28 reviews)

163 Employee Reviews
in
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    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    Unrewarding

    Corps Member (Current Employee)

    Pros-Work with kids
    -met some friends through school teams

    ConsUnsustainable model in which corps members leave after usually 1 year when students they work with are kind of left to fend for themselves

    Advice to Senior ManagementGood intentions but horrible outcome. Be honest and understand the long-term negative implications to the organization.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Orlando site needs some work. Not worth it.

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Orlando, FL

    Prosunique experience to serve and help communities in need. opportunity to learn how to budget. opportunity to practice managing up. food assistance (SNAP) guaranteed during service...if you plan ahead you won't be hungry.

    ConsNot really about the students. long hours for no reason. very political. low pay (stipend is small but manageable). Lack of respect from staff ppl. staff cater to most under developed/ unprofessional...enables/encourages immature behavior. unprofessional training sessions. Cult mentality when corps members ask questions. disregard for suggestions made by federal agents during random routine audit. you aren't trained to do what they ask you to do. PT Crew= step team = dance squad = twerk team.

    Advice to Senior ManagementHave external consultants train staff in everything. Attempt consistency.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Very frustrating experience

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    Pros-Opportunity to work with students who really need it
    -It really helps you figure out what you are and are NOT interested in
    -A great, comprehensive glimpse into America's education system
    -The mission is important
    -Good leadership and teamwork experience

    ConsI think that the most important thing to know about City Year is that your experience will vary GREATLY depending on your sponsor and school environment. At my site, the teams with the overall best experience have very engaged sponsors, a welcoming school, and competent, driven leadership. It also depends on your team relationship and how discipline is handled.

    There is also a huge lack of consistency in City Year that breeds a lot of resentment between corps members. At my site, some teams work less than ten hour days while other teams work eleven or almost twelve. Some teams are also not penalized for dress code or tardy violations, while others are written up consistently. We are also infrequently allowed to take days off or leave early, while other teams have members who have missed beyond their allowed time without consequence. This causes a lack of unity and often nothing is done about it.

    Because City Year is so funding and data-driven, often the needs of the corps members are not sufficiently heard. Much of the data collection is often left to corps members themselves, making the data subject to error and giving an impossible workload to corps members. PMs are not a good support system, instead they are data monitors.

    The classroom is also a difficult environment. Working with a teacher is hard because there tends to be an unwanted power struggle- teachers often feel that you're imposing in some way. If your teacher does not like you, it's extremely hard to meet your "impact goals"/ have a good experience. City Year is not adequately prepared for a lot of what corps members have to deal with.

    There are also very little resources for those not interested in pursuing education or social work, making the job search post-City Year daunting. You're expected to have a complete post-City Year plan early in the year, but are provided absolutely NO time in which to create said plan. You are also only given a short amount of days off, which forces you to choose between a personal (sanity) day and a day for interviews/ job hunting.

    Many of the perks of City Year (college/graduate school partnerships, stipend, food assistance, AmeriCorps education award) are not made clear at the beginning. You are told the GROSS stipend amount that you'll make, but depending on certain factors, it may be $100-$200 less a month, which is almost unlivable. Food assistance (CY corps members are supposed to qualify automatically) is an incredibly long and frustrating process, especially because the offices that handle food stamps require tons of paper work and time, and often don't understand why our income isn't "income". Very little help is given in this area. Without food stamps, the stipend is COMPLETELY unlivable.

    The AmeriCorps education award - $5,500 for one year- can be great or not worth it, depending on your case. Many schools match the award which makes it a great benefit, but if you have substantial student loans, I'd say that it isn't worth it. One generally defers loans during their service year, which will cost you more than you think: interest accrues daily, and in my service year I gathered more than $4,500 in interest. Because of this, I and many of my fellow corps members, are leaving with more debt than we anticipated.

    I have had to work a second job the entire time I've worked with City Year and this is particularly frustrating for management. I often cannot participate in weekend events, and my PM hounds me for it. I am frequently asked if I "need" the other job, if I can possibly cut down on hours, etc. I'd recommend City Year if your parents or anyone else are/is still paying for at least some of your living expenses. City Year is unrealistic for those of us who are 100% independent/need to save money.

    Overall, I do not recommend City Year for everyone. While I have learned a lot, the heavy dissatisfaction commonly felt at our site has made this experience less than fulfilling. This could be a great experience of trials and challenges that strengthen you; instead the trials and challenges and little support break you.

    Advice to Senior Management-Be more organized
    -Train your staff more
    -Train corps members on tutoring methods instead of just branding
    -Communicate better with everyone
    -Encourage Program Managers to spend more time at their schools
    -Focus less on whether or not we have the right kind of khakis and more on mental health

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Carefully packaged white guilt, privilege & idealism claiming 2 "Save the World" 1 culturally diverse photo op at a time

    City Year Corps Member (Former Employee) Chicago, IL

    ProsYou meet some amazing kids and teens, when City Year cared about teens. And some of your peers are great minded people who were also duped.

    ConsUnfortunately, the kids don't make up for the exploitation. The middle & high school programs were cut and the workers are overworked and insultingly underpaid. This is a bandaid company if there ever was one, no solutions to real social problems. Not much upward mobility either. It's all about how much money you raise for them, or how many you recruit. It's about the numbers, not the people.

    Advice to Senior ManagementProvide student loan forgiveness for 40+ hour work weeks. Stop exploiting young dreamers!

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    A wholly unsatisfying experience

    Corps Member (Former Employee) Philadelphia, PA

    ProsAs another reviewers stated, the only good part about City Year is the interaction with the children, especially the ones with significant potential.

    Cons- The poor management of the organization made it inefficient from the top down. Corp members were consistently left in the dark about decisions that had been made for them and had to wait until information was "rolled down" (a favorite phrase of the org). The organization hierarchy was touted almost like a caste system and corp members were treated like lower class citizens, even in situations were corps members were older or more experienced than their team leaders or program managers. The arrogance of staff members and even the former executive directors, was astounding.

    - Though "inclusion" and "diversity" were apparently important themes, the organization is rampant with discriminatory practices, going so far as to hire blatantly unqualified individuals in order to gather the right number of ethnic minorities and LGBT community members. While affirmative action, serves a real, justifiable purpose, this organization was hiring individuals who could not complete the work of the children who they tutored. My own high school team had members who could not multiply fractions, use long division, or solve basic algebraic expressions.

    - In addition to these "shady practices" there were several points throughout the year when unfortunate incidents occurred involving students or school administration and corps members were silenced or dismissed from the organization in order to quickly silence the problem without necessarily correcting the problem at all.

    - Corp members were swamped with generally meaningless projects and tasks that served only to promote the "branding" of the organization. Friday mornings were spent stomping and dancing in the middle of the city like a cult while most Fridays (and sometimes other weekdays/weekends) were spent doing unhelpful training exercises, or community projects with very little impact. All these side tasks took away from our ability to help students in the classroom, which is what we had all come to do.

    I will not complain about the pay because anyone should have known what they were signing up for, however, they were a bit tight-lipped about the exact dollar amount.

    Advice to Senior Management- Actually screen candidates: There should not be corps members in a group who just want to ""make some money". Please inform them that McDonald's/Burger King/Subway pay 2-3 times as much as have shorter hours. Also make sure that these people can read and do 9th grade math (at least).

    - Treat corp members with respect. They are giving their time and energy to help the kids and should have the opportunity to do so.

    - Lose the cult behavior. You can keep your culture without turning every corps member into a God-fearing, left-wing extremist idealouge, or as you call it, "idealist".

    - Allow for more flexibility and face time with the children who the corp members came to aid.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Great mission, not executed well.

    Corps Member (Current Employee) San Jose, CA

    ProsWorking with other idealistic young people. Getting to choose any site in the country to apply to.

    ConsWe only tutor each student for 15 minutes a day which makes it very difficult to make an impact. We work 11 hour days but do not have 11 hours of work to do so the company is very inefficient. There is a general disrespect of corps members and their time and we are treated like children. There are very strict rules such as not being able to drink with any employee not on the same level as you. The higher person needs to leave if they even so much as see you at a bar. The City Year way to communicate is to do so indirectly. They is a lot of general statements made instead of actually addressing the issue. Upper staff is very passive aggressive in this way as well. A lot of after hours events that come up (yes after already working 11 hour days). They ask for feedback but don't really want to change anything.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTreat us like adults and respect our time. Revamp the program so it actually helps the children.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    City Year has so much potential, but fails miserably to follow through.

    Corps Member (Current Employee) Detroit, MI

    Pros1) Working with and mentoring kids is a special experience.

    2) The Corps Members themselves are very cool and interesting (about 80% are cool and the other 20% are CRAZY and incompetent).

    Cons1) The City Year superiors (Team Leaders, Program Managers, Program Directors) have proven to be largely incompetent. They make decisions in a very dictatorial fashion, focusing on growth and numbers and ignoring the needs of Corps members.

    2)You follow students in classes all day, but oftentimes teachers teach for the entire class period; this means that whole class periods are spent doing nothing. There is a severe lack of productivity during the day, even though work days are upwards of 10 hours each day.

    3) It is extremely stressful and often it feels futile to work in such horrible schools. The teachers and administration are often inept, and Corps Members have little power at the end of the day. Corps Members are forced to prop up support for these horrible schools. Sometimes, the only work we can do is have kids do missing assignments for full credit. This promotes bad work habits, and this isn't tutoring. This emphasis on just getting kids to do their work does little to curb the poor education that students receive.

    4) City Year as an organization does little to support Corps Members. Training days happen upwards of once a week, and are frustratingly useless.

    5) The data-driven approach is faulty and borderline corrupt. There is no data to understand City Year's impact on students once these students no longer have City Year to help them. In other words, City Year is so focused on short term success, that longterm success is totally ignored.

    6) The culture of City Year is tacky and childish. The organization pontificates about professionalism, but promotes a culture that discourages any sense of professionalism. Management sits on their phones during trainings and doesn't uphold the same uniform standards as Corps Members.

    Advice to Senior Management-Hire more competent managers.
    -Seek data to see the longterm impact of City Year impact.
    -Focus on quality, not quantity.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    suffocating, embarrassing, inept, non-profit more interested in image than results

    Corps Member (Current Employee)

    ProsYou gain school/teaching experience, but in a manner that has you feeling you're on the outside looking in.

    ConsCity Year is ridiculous. They go out of their way to hire "diverse" people, at the cost of results and efficacy. High school grads still wet behind the ears, directionless college drop outs, and college grads with no prospects. They'll hire people who can barely read or write, let alone who should be around children. They hire drug addicts, alcoholics, hateful and downright abusive individuals. Reports of drug and alcohol use AT THE SCHOOL, DURING THE SERVICE DAY are punished with a slap on the wrist. City Year, rather than trying to hire people who will better the schools (or the kids, apparently whom it's all about), cares more about the numbers of "diverse" (cough*inept) people rather than actual results. This is par for the course though. If you notice, City Year very rarely can prove that corps members are actually effective at raising scores or preventing drop-outs. Rather, they just report on the sheer number of hours served, and very dubious stats that are not actually due to CM interventions or service.

    We are poorly hired, poorly trained, poorly treated, poorly managed, and largely ineffective. I really regret spending this year with City Year. I wish I had looked into literally ANY other in-school service program, rather than trusting that City Year was a good organization.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    It's not going to get better unless people speak out

    City Year Corps Member (Former Employee) Philadelphia, PA

    ProsNone. It's a terrible place.

    Cons-I actually worked at the Philadelphia site, but as all corps members know, most City Year staffers are TERRIFIED of everyone at Headquarters, to the point where they will lie to Headquarters, scream at corps members, and punish anyone who lets on to Headquarters what really goes on at City Year sites.

    -For example, City Year holds a huge conference at the end of the school year every year for all of its members across the network (It's called Cyzygy). There are many Q-and-As with City Year management and the CEO will encourage corps members to ask questions and express their opinions. At the Philadelphia site, all Philadelphia employees were required to get their questions cleared by management and would be prohibited from speaking if Philadelphia didn't like their questions. It was all very Maoist.

    -Corps Members also weren't really allowed to sleep during Cyzygy and we were only allotted 5-6 hours to sleep. One of my colleagues (who suffered from depression), complained to leadership that the lack of sleep was affecting her health. No one cared.

    -Another example, during my corps year, a colleague of mine emailed Headquarters because she was displeased with the conference roommate arrangements. Philadelphia management found out about the email and pulled this woman into an office and berated her. "Now we have to keep [Headquarters] updated," they snapped. Being unused to any sort of accountability, City Year Greater Philadelphia was really displeased about telling Headquarters that their site was less than perfect.

    Advice to Senior Management- Your staff is lying to you. You should look a little deeper at what is going on.

    -My advice to current corps members: If you are being harassed or lied to at your site, call or email Headquarters with your complaints just for kicks. Yes, you will be punished at your site, but you can always quit and it will be empowering for you to get the top brass to listen to you. There's no reason a reading or math tutor should have to put up with psychological torture. Just invoke the whislerblower clause or something.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Not at all what was marketed

    City Year Corps Member (Former Employee) New York, NY

    ProsIt can make you feel like you're doing "good". It's certainly self-congratulatory enough

    ConsPay, long hours, making minimal impact and maybe even doing more harm than good, very limited options to move on after

    Advice to Senior ManagementBe more honest about what people are REALLY signing up for. Don't just care about the business clients, you also have to worry about your corps.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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