Service comes naturally to Matt McCabe, the first AmeriCorps alum to join the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Board of Directors. A commitment to service was instilled in him by his parents and grandparents from childhood. “They set the expectation that we give back to our community,” said McCabe.
Whether it was serving in soup kitchens during the holidays, packaging meals for homebound community members, or visiting the elderly in nursing homes, McCabe embraced his responsibility to reach out and help as naturally as he embraced playing Ultimate Frisbee, a lifelong passion.
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, McCabe began teaching in the Chicago area, hoping to “provide an excellent education for as many students as possible in a city that is regrettably intertwined with a national achievement gap.”
Less than 50 percent of Chicago Public School students graduate from high school, and those who do graduate read, on average, at an 8th-grade level. Currently, fewer than 6 percent of the system's students graduate from college within five years of high school.
“That is unacceptable,” said McCabe. “The city of Chicago deserves better, the children of Chicago deserve better.”
To help solve this problem, McCabe joined Teach For America (TFA) in 2009.
“I teach because I believe that public service has a role to play in changing the opportunity of a child,” said McCabe. “I continue to work in and outside of the classroom for educational equity because while this problem is immense in its proportions, diverse in its impact, and deep in its roots -- it is solvable.”
McCabe continues to teach World History and AP World History at Pritzker College Prep, the school where he was a Teach for America member. He notes that there are multiple AmeriCorps programs at the school including TFA and Project Yes, all of which contribute to the school's 100% four-year college admission rate.
Said McCabe of his time with AmeriCorps, “It gave me an intimate, on the ground knowledge of the challenges our country faces. At the same time, AmeriCorps demonstrated that young people who answer the call to serve get things done."
In 2010, President Obama tapped McCabe to be a member of the CNCS Board, the Senate confirmed his nomination in May 2012, and he was sworn in last week “It's a privilege and honor to be asked by the White House to serve on the CNCS Board,” he said. “Service is a vital part of the answer to challenges in the classroom.”
During his board tenure, McCabe's main goal is to reach out to AmeriCorps alums and keep them engaged in service.
“I'm here to promote the message that this next generation, our generation, is ready to step up and serve.”
Matthew McCabe teaches World History and AP World History at Pritzker College Prep -- one of the campuses of the Noble Street Charter School. He is also a 2012 LEE Summer Policy Fellow, a 2012 Teach+ Teaching Policy Fellow, and a member of the Corporation for National and Community Service Board of Directors.
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