Jaiden Singh knew he wanted to pursue a career that combined his love of science and community service. But Singh, a first-generation American and undergraduate student at the University of Arizona, felt uncertain about how to make it happen. 
Then he discovered Public Health AmeriCorps. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and AmeriCorps created Public Health AmeriCorps in 2022 to boost the public health workforce and build capacity in local settings to respond to community needs. A man who is a volunteer at Public Health AmeriCorps poses for the camera
“We are creating pathways to good public health jobs for people with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences, rebuilding our public health workforce with greater representation from the communities it serves,” Public Health AmeriCorps director AJ Pearlman, JD, said during a virtual town hall hosted by APHA last month.
U.S. public health continues to be underfunded, made worse by the end of federal emergency money that began at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health.
“We really continue to see what we call this kind of boom-and-bust cycle of public health funding, and it threatens both the recruitment and the retention of skilled public health workers,” Gracia said. “It’s impossible for health departments and community-based organizations to hire and retain workers when they’re only receiving short term funding.... We need long-term sustained funding.”
Public Health AmeriCorps is doing its part to build the public health workforce through a five-year grant that funds more than 4,000 public health positions, as well as initial and ongoing training for participants. Host sites include health agencies, associations, foundations and other nonprofits that are doing on-the-ground work in communities. 
Local sites help participants develop skills that are needed to be part of a team, said Orlando Reboredo, assistant director of the AmeriCorps at the Community Health Care Association of NYS. 
“We encourage our health centers to be creative with the program and create opportunities,” Reboredo said.
Singh emphasized the program’s value to his career plans. 
“Being a part of AmeriCorps not only has really supplemented my education that I’m working toward in public health and policy,” said Singh, who worked with Arizona’s Pima County Health Department. “It has also meant the opportunity to do work that I'm really passionate about in the community.”
Applications for Public Health AmeriCorps are open now
Brittany Perrotte, MPH, is an APHA consultant, and Iesha Reid is a practicum student at Alliance for Disease Prevention and Response.

Photo credit: Video still courtesy AmeriCorps