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City Year Tackles the High School Dropout Crisis

Kristin Harrison | GOOD Magazine

March 30, 2010

Pico-Union compressed

City Year corps members based in Los Angeles write about their experiences

I walk through the metal gates leading to Union Avenue Elementary School. There are only a few children sitting in line, waiting for everyone else to arrive.

The sun is still rising over the California mountains, but I am bright. I have already seen yellow today. There was yellow on the sidewalks, yellow on the subways. Yellow passing me by as it rushes to catch the bus.

“So what is City Year, anyway?” a man on the bus asks me. “I always see all of you in your yellow jackets all over the city.”

Ah, the yellow jacket. Were it not for this baggy bomber, bold letters stretched against the back, would anyone even be aware that City Year existed? “Well let me tell you,” I said, breaking into my standard reply.

To a casual onlooker, this bright, crinkly jacket may seem similar to the sort of apparel that sports fans commonly wear. But this isn’t just any jacket. It is a symbol of our idealism and the service we provide to children as tutors, mentors, and role models, addressing the national high school dropout crisis.

Nationally, City Year corps members wear red. But in California, we wear yellow in the neighborhoods we serve, where the color red is sometimes associated with gangs. We hope to someday reclaim red, but until then, we embrace yellow.

To be honest, the jacket is my favorite piece of City Year clothing, and it’s a good thing it attracts the attention it does.

What Is City Year?→

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