So you want to take some time after graduation to undertake a service commitment? Terrific! One question: who is going to pay for it?
If you don't have a ready answer for that, there are basically four groups of people who can pay for you to undertake a service opportunity after graduation:
Not a good option for most students. In fact, given student debt, this might not be an option at all for many students, even with loan caps. However, it may be necessary if you have very specific needs or desires, particularly if you want to serve short-term (under a year) or need to go to a very specific location or do a very specific job. If you do find yourself in this situation and are struggling to finance your service, consider the following:
- Can you work for a short period of time (say, 6 months) after graduation, live frugally, and save enough to self-finance?
- Is it likely that you will be receiving graduation gifts that might help finance your service?
- Is there a way that you can responsibly take on a debt obligation in order to finance your service? If you do so, be sure that you have a well-thought-out and feasible timeline for repaying the principal and interest.
The good news is that if you are flexible in terms of time, work, and/or location, you probably don't have to pay to take on a post-graduation service opportunity. Other people can pay for it, like the next three:
Primarily through two forms: Peace Corps (a two-year service commitment available in over 70 countries around the world) and Americorps (a one-year service commitment in the US, with many different types of jobs and opportunities).
Privately Funded Organizations
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of these. Since your and my taxes both pay for the government-funded options, above, most private individuals and foundations aren't too excited about paying for your service and would instead tell you to join Peace Corps or Americorps. Still, some options do exist, such as Teach For America and City Year.
Some Grinnell students reject faith-based organizations out-of-hand, and that's too bad. There are a lot of terrific opportunities out there through faith-based programs. These organizations run a gamut from very conservative to very liberal, and while some ask that you sign a faith statement, prostelytize, or have a letter of recommendation from a faith leader, others believe that you show your faith through your actions (and therefore don't ask about your beliefs) or actively recruit a religiously diverse volunteer corps.
Two great opportunities that Grinnell students often times take advantage of are the Lutheran Volunteer Corps and Jesuit Volunteer Corps. In recent years, a number of Jewish students have signed up with Avodah and the American Jewish World Service. Other organizations for different faith traditions also exist.
A terrific resource for researching Christian faith-based organizations is the Catholic Network for Voluntary Service's Response Directory. Though named "Catholic," this database contains many different opportunities sponsored by Christian denominations. Non-Christian students may search for applicable opportunities by selecting "Accepts applicants who are not Christian" under "religious affiliation."