Anna Dorman ’14 has joined AmeriCorps, working with the Hawaii Alliance for Community Based Economic Development (HACBED) in Honolulu. Over the course of the next year in the Americorps VISTA position, she will develop a program to increase saving habits among at-risk youth populations and provide access to financial education resources for their families.
Dorman explains the project is important because there are huge concerns about poverty across each of the counties of Hawaii. “The cost of living is incredibly high because virtually everything is imported and employment opportunities are limited,” she says.
Additionally, she points out Hawaii sees many of the same problems associated with tourism-based economies around the world in that the majority of employment opportunities do not pay a livable wage, and are centralized in tourist locals which also receive the majority of government funding and investment.
“HACBED is specifically organized to represent the voices of community members and families from across the state of Hawaii and develop economic development programs which will actually benefit those families in a sustainable manner,” says Dorman.
While the program is just getting started, she thinks that one of the most important aspects of it will be gaining buy-in from the students, both individually and as a collective.
“In the past, incentives such as matching saved funds have been utilized, which is a good option. School systems are also uniquely situated to provide incentives for students in a nonmonetary way,” she says. “I am hoping to expand the program across all levels of education (K-12) so this could mean different things at different levels of education.”
Dorman notes for example, if third graders met a savings goal for the month maybe they earn extra recess one day. High school savings programs, she says, should be designed with saving for college in mind.
“I think that there could be some great ways to tie in community programs which are already designed to get students into college,” she says.
AmeriCorps is a national network of programs committed to engaging thousands of people each year to serve in communities across the country.
“In particular, I feel really prepared for this opportunity because of the Civic Leaders program and I think that that experience is what gave me an edge over other applicants,” says Dorman. “I am really excited for this opportunity and feel that it is the perfect convergence of the interdisciplinary program I took at HWS. There is a great confluence of political science theory and economic theory in a real world setting that makes this an awesome first job.”
A double major in economics and international relations, Dorman completed her degree requirements early and moved to Oahu, Hawaii, about 20 minutes outside of Honolulu, in December. She plans to pursue either graduate or law school in the future.
She was active on campus, having served as junior class president and as a member of the William Smith Congress. She was a campus EcoRep, and member of campus greens, the sustainable food club, Americans for Informed Democracy, and College Democrats, and was a volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva. She also served as vice president and president of the HWS Debate Team. In 2013, she and Amira Abdulkadir ’14 represented the Debate Team at the 33rd World Universities Debating Championship in Berlin, Germany. She also participated in study abroad in Jordan in the spring of 2013.
Each year, AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 people in intensive service at more than 15,000 locations across the country, including nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups. Members help communities tackle problems while mobilizing volunteers for the organizations they serve.
AmeriCorps members gain valuable professional, educational, and life benefits, and the experience has a lasting impact on the members and the communities they serve. AmeriCorps consists of three main programs: AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps).