The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

City Year:
Teach for Pennies

May 23, 2022

A nationwide program called City Year, part of AmeriCorps, hires young people for super-low wages to work extra-long hours mentoring students in public schools for a year.

City Year hires people as young as 17 years old, gives them two weeks training, and then places them out to “systematically under-resourced public schools” to mentor around a dozen students each in literacy and math. They are expected to help with before-school, after-school, and weekend activities and homework assistance, to call parents, and to make videos and posters.

For this work, City Year pays them what they call “A stipend to cover the basics,” recently raised to $20,000 for the year. That comes to about $9.60 an hour if these “student success coaches” work a 40 hour week. And since their responsibilities often go over that time, it’s even less money per hour.

The promotional website for the Washington, D.C. placements says: “There are plenty of cheap eats and free activities around the city, or look into D.C.s Food Assistance Program.” In other words, City Year knows that the money given to these tutors may not even cover basic living expenses.

And meanwhile, its CEO makes nearly half a million dollars a year, and at least 11 other officials earn over $250,000 each.