March 11th, the House Education and Labor Committee approved H.R. 1388, the Generations InvigoratingVolunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act, on a 34-3 vote. The bill is expected to be sent to the full House for consideration during the week of March 16 and is the House companion bill to the Serve America Act (S. 277).
Chairman George Miller, Ranking Member Howard McKeon, Subcommittee Chair Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Rep. Todd Platts and others on the Committee issued a Committee summary of the GIVE Act, outlined below:
“America is facing unprecedented challenges – the economy, health care, energy, schools in need of improvement and more. With our public needs intensifying in this recession, there’s no better time to support and energize community service and volunteerism to help our country get through this economic crisis, restore confidence and prepare our nation for the future. President Obama has called on Congress to create new opportunities for Americans to build a stronger country by helping students perform better in school, prepare Americans for green and innovative 21st century jobs, rebuild cities in times of disaster, improve communities and much, much more. This legislation answers his call. It will launch a new era of service that will give Americans of all ages an opportunity to invest through service in our nation’s recovery.”
Specifically, the House Education and Labor Committee’s bill will do the following things, as outlined by the Committee:
- Creates 175,000 new service opportunities, growing the number of volunteers nationwide to 250,000 (up from 75,000).
- Links the amount of the full-time education award to the maximum authorized Pell Grant award amount in order to keep up with rising college costs. [In 2009-10, the maximum Pell Grant will be $5350, compared with the $4,725 Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. This is only an increase of $135 this coming year, but now would have the potential to grow along with the Pell Grant. The current Ed Award amount, established in 1993, was determined at that time as 90 percent of the G.I. Bill award level, and somewhat linked with the tuition costs of attending a year at a public university.]
- Establishes the Summer of Service program that engages middle and high school students in volunteer activities in their communities and allows them to earn a $500 Education Award to be used for college costs. It also establishes Youth Engagement Zones, a new service-learning program to help bridge partnerships between community based organizations and schools in high-need, low income communities to engage high school students and out-of-school youth in service learning to address specific challenges their communities face.
- Establishes the Campuses of Service to support and recognize institutions of higher education with exemplary service-learning programs and assists students in the pursuit of public service careers.
- Expands opportunities for disadvantaged youth, including those with disabilities, to become more involved with service and strives to include people of all ages and those from diverse background in volunteerism.
- Establishes four new service corps: a Clean Energy Corps to encourage energy efficiency and conservation measures, an Education Corps to help increase student engagement, achievement and graduation, a Healthy Futures Corps to improve health care access, and a Veterans Service Corps to enhance services for veterans
- Expands the focus of the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) to include disaster relief, infrastructure improvement, environmental and energy conservation, and urban and rural development.
- Recruits scientists, technicians, mathematicians and engineers into national service to help keep America competitive.
The bill creates two new fellowships to engage social entrepreneurs, boomers and retirees, the private sector and people from all generations in service:
- ServeAmerica Fellowships: ServeAmerica Fellows are individuals who propose their own plans for serving in their communities to address national needs and are matched up with a service sponsor.
- Silver Scholarships and Encore Fellowships: These programs offer boomers and seniors, age 55 or older, opportunities to transition into service post-career as well as entrance into new careers in the public or nonprofit sector.
The bill also creates a Community Solutions Fund pilot program that awards competitive matching grants to social entrepreneur venture funds in order to provide community organizations with the resources to replicate or expand proven solutions to community challenges.
Finally the bill includes a Call to Service Campaign to launch a national campaign encouraging all Americans to engage in service and to observe September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
To explain the context of the proposed legislation, Voices For National Service issued this statement this morning:
The national service programs have not been reauthorized in 16 years and the GIVE Act addresses this oversight. The bill strengthens and expands the federally supported service initiatives, stimulates community volunteerism, and increases accountability, improves efficiency and ensures results within the administration of the national service programs. The bill also authorizes some new approaches for expanding the capacity of the nonprofit sector to tap the ingenuity and innovation of citizens working together in local communities to address critical needs.
The GIVE Act has been crafted in an open, bipartisan manner and has broad support from the White House, community and faith-based partners, and the national service community.
Read the text of the GIVE Act and the four amendments adopted.