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Mario's Story


In high school I was trying to navigate adolescence while dealing with some major distractions at home. A couple of my teachers nominated me to take part in a sleepover camp where we focused on race and identity issues. There I found a role model that changed my life—John, a young Latino and City Year AmeriCorps member who impacted the way I looked at myself and helped me envision the type of person I wanted to be. Years later, I ran into another AmeriCorps member and was reminded of the impact John made on me. I applied to City Year, and became part of a diverse team that challenged my worldview and helped me find my voice through service. This led me to over a decade of leadership and civic activism. In 2013, as I was reflecting on my work and career, I asked myself, “What if I had a service year when I was 11? How different would my life be?” To answer that question, I built Big Citizen HUB. At Big Citizen HUB we are building the next generation of leaders and activists—a pipeline of diverse, enthusiastic, and informed change makers. Our members, from 11 year-olds to 26 year-olds, explore issues through dialogue and service projects. Big Citizen HUB is a direct response to my work in AmeriCorps. A service year changed my life, and I believe it can do the same for others.