ARM Timeline

A History of Service view pictures



Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) created. Within CNCS, AmeriCorps is created; Senior Corps incorporates the three senior-focused programs: RSVP, Foster Grandparents, and Senior Companions.


America Reads – Mississippi (ARM) AmeriCorps program begins

Randee WilliamsThe Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) received the grant award from CNCS to begin the ARM program. ARM began with 200 Corps members serving in 29 school sites, and 2 university partners (Delta State University and Mississippi State University). Members were supported by 3 program staff. Randee Williams (pictured here) was the first Program Director for ARM and served in this role until 2007.Welcome America Reads MS


ARM expands Corps to serve more students

ARM StateWithin 2 years of inception, the ARM program increased to 270 Corps members who served 451,433 hours, tutoring 5,429 pre-K-3rd grade students. Alcorn State University had been added as a university partner and ARM initiated a pilot program with the Early Childhood Institute (ECI) to engage 20 Corps members in service with pre-school students. ARM Tutors With A Mission were now serving in 36 schools.

2001-2005 Making a Difference view pictures


ARM officially launches program website


USA Today magazine recognizes AmeriCorps members

“Steering Children Well” was the headline in the USA Today magazine that featured the “Magical School Bus” reading/tutoring project.

A.W Watson AwardYou'd have to be a magician to make reading fun in a poor county where only about a quarter of residents have finished high school and all students qualify for free lunches. But magic is what was conjured up at A.W. Watson Elementary in Port Gibson, Miss. Just a week and a half before Make A Difference Day, volunteers with America Reads-Mississippi AmeriCorps got the idea to create a "Magical School Bus" for a reading/tutoring center. It was quite a reclamation project: An abandoned bus pulled from an adjacent junkyard had no tires. Windows were missing, paint was peeling and seats were badly mildewed. For four days and nights, 36 volunteers toiled. They peeled off every bit of paint and repainted the bus inside and out, complete with a smiling face on the front. They scrubbed the seats and removed rear seats to install tables and shelves big enough to hold 100 donated books.

The wacky wonder created a stir. "Folks driving by on their way to work would be ecstatic, saying, 'What is this bus doing here in the middle of the school?' " volunteer Janie Harris says. "If they didn't have time to help work on it, they said, 'Here's $5 or $10 to help with whatever you need.' "

By Make A Difference Day, the bus was a bright work of art, and 600 students lined up to visit in an all-day open house. Since then, the bus has been a hot spot on school days and two Saturdays a month. In fact, kids are making up excuses to spend time inside. Teachers tell Harris: "Whatever you all are doing on that bus, it's helping."

The bus is a magnet for big kids, too. "Believe it or not, we have students from the high school come over to just get away to a quiet place and do homework," Harris says.

Now, that's magic.


Jackson State University Added

ECI Karen JackJackson State University added as a university partner; ECI becomes its own entity and ARM returns to serving K-3rd students

2006 – 2010 National Recognition view pictures


ARM PledgeARM is the largest AmeriCorps program of its kind in the nation with 350 full-time AmeriCorps members serving as reading tutors in 74 schools across Mississippi, and adding The University of Southern Mississippi as a university partner.



AmeriCorps Week officially launched


Ronjanett Taylor rejoins ARM as new State Director

Ronjanett Taylor

Having previously served as the assistant state director for ARM from 2000-2006, Ronjanett rejoined the ARM team after the tenure of the former state director, Randee Williams. Randee laid a strong foundation, establishing much of the program’s partnerships and support throughout its first 10 years of existence, and led the state staff team to manage the program with fidelity and see results. Having worked alongside Randee and many of the existing staff for many of those years, it was an honor for Ronjanett to pick up the baton and continue the mission and work.



Edward M. Kennedy Service America Act signed by President Obama


The University of Mississippi added

The University of Mississippi added as a partner, bringing the statewide program to 6 university partners.


ARM was named one of 52 Most Innovative AmeriCorps Programs in the United States in the America’s Service Commissions and Innovations in Civic Participation’s publication entitled, “Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of 52 of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps Programs in the United States”


Service Education PanelRonjanett Taylor was a panelist for the Micro Education Plenary session entitled, “The Role of Service in Remaking American Education”.  Ronjanett joined US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Pricewaterhouse Coopers Chairman and Senior Partner Robert Mortiz,  Microsoft Vice President for Educational Programs Anthony Salcito, and Stephanie Banchero of the Wall Street Journal who served as the moderator. The panel provided a rich discussion on how public/private collaborations can work to help solve our nation’s education challenges.  Ronjanett responded to specific questions about how the ARM does this through its 89 school and 6 university partnerships, its key relationship with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, and its efforts to promote the use of the AmeriCorps education award by members to pursue higher education.  Each year, about 75% of ARM members report that they desire to become certified teachers.



FEMA Corps launched
2011-2013 A Season of Change view pictures


USM Lady Bug ProjectUSM AmeriCorps members (America Reads – Mississippi, TRIAD AmeriCorps, and Campus Link) visit with Bill Basil, AmeriCorps Director, Corporation for National and Community Service


A season of change and adjustment resulted in the program losing national funding in 2013-2014. However, the program was awarded a formula grant through Volunteer Mississippi for this transition year. With the support of ARM’s legal applicant, IHL, long standing university and school partners, dedicated staff, and committed individuals desirous of serving children, ARM AmeriCorps service continued and a national grant application was resubmitted. The year was challenging but the program persevered and was refunded for a new State & National three-year grant cycle for 2014-2017.

2014 - 2017 Ready, Set, Re-Start! view pictures


AmeriCorps Week DisplayNow, a true reflection of survival and success, the ARM program would take what had been learned to operate a sustainable AmeriCorps program, continuing to GET THINGS DONE with 99 AmeriCorps members serving in approximately 30 schools and 21 school districts, and three regional university partners at Jackson State University (JSU), Mississippi State University (MSU), and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).

One of the biggest lessons of 2013 was the need for a more robust evaluation plan and practice. Evaluation became a tool and not just a task. ARM was selected to receive intensive technical assistance to prepare for the 3 year process of conducting an impact evaluation. ARM would formulate the way forward, in light of the evaluation results, with a revised program design called the ARM – SIM (ARM Structured Intervention Model) including researched-based scripted lessons, enhanced tutor training, and leveled member supervision.

2018-2019 Program Highlights view pictures


ARM begins its 20th Year!

Members Make 20ARM’s 20th class included 84 AmeriCorps members providing reading tutoring to 984 K-3rd grade students in 26 schools across Mississippi!

ARM 20th Anniversary & Alumni Weekend held October 12 – 13

Twenty years, 25 partners, 241 schools, 4,841 Corps members, and 59,468 students…that’s service! Collaborative service creates a bond that lasts. With much excitement, former AmeriCorps members, staff, their families, and supporters gathered October 12 – 13 to commemorate 20 years of serving together, carrying out the mission of national service: “to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier” and to “get things done”. The 20th Anniversary & Alumni Weekend included an alumni mixer, a roundtable discussion on continuing to serve, a service project, and a banquet.

Alumni Sponsorship Campaign launched (click here)

View 20th Anniversary & Alumni Weekend Highlights

View Sponsor Thank You


Ronjanett Taylor and Randee Williams