Senate Appropriations Committee Backs Funding for the Kennedy Serve America Act

Yesterday the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $1.157B to fund the Corporation for National and Community Service implementation of the Kennedy Serve America Act.

The figure is greater than the $1.149B requested by President Obama, the $1.059B that the House of Representatives passed in its appropriations bill, and the 2009 fiscal year budget of the Corporation.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senators Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS), issued a statement:

The bill includes $1.157 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service. This level is $267 million above the fiscal year 2009 enacted level. The Committee recommendation puts AmeriCorps on the path to 250,000 members, the goal approved by Congress earlier this year in the SERVE America Act. The Continue reading

Aaron Williams’s Peace Corps Director Confirmation Could Come Quickly

Update August 7th, 2009: RPCV Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 67-70) has been confirmed to become the 18th Director of the Peace Corps.  The United States Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination today in one of its final actions before a five week recess. Read more.

This post is by Erica Burman of the National Peace Corps Association, and originally appeared on The Peace Corps Polyglot blog.

Aaron Williams at his confirmation hearing yesterday

Aaron Williams at his confirmation hearing yesterday

It was an exciting afternoon on Capitol Hill as [Returned Peace Corps Volunteer] Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 67-70), President Obama’s nominee to be the next Director of Peace Corps, went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The meeting was chaired by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who also served in the Dominican Republic.

Both Dodd and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) expressed support for Williams.  Dodd said he is excited at the prospects of working with Williams, while Isakson added “I commend the President on your appointment.”  Dodd says he plans to speak with Senate leadership to see if the confirmation can be completed before Congress breaks next week for its August recess.

The hour-long hearing included a question and answer session in which Williams indicated he wants to engage in a listening tour to engage the Peace Corps community, a “very rich and diverse population.”

Williams noted he wants to look at every possible process Peace Corps is involved in, and conduct a wide-ranging Continue reading

Volunteering Up in America (Slightly)



A study published by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) yesterday details the latest volunteering trends.

Volunteering in America 2009, the latest version of an annual report that looks at volunteerism in the United States, shows a slight increase in the number of volunteers in 2008. A companion website also called Volunteering in America offers links to summaries of the report and a look at volunteering trends in the 50 states and nearly 200 cities.

Last year, a million more people age 16 and older volunteered (without pay) at organizations than in 2007.  61.8 million people (26.4 percent of the adult population) volunteered 8 billion hours of their time through organizations.  CNCS Continue reading

Mistakes I’ve Made, Lessons I’ve Learned…Wisdom from a Second-Year VISTA

Marissa Pherson, AmeriCorps VISTA

Marissa Pherson, AmeriCorps VISTA

A second-year VISTA and new blogger shares her thoughts with new members of her team.

Over-communicate with everyone! In the beginning, I didn’t communicate enough with off-site program staff. They’re super busy and may not be easy to get in touch with, but be persistent and do your part.

Keep track of names, contact info and the type of contact. Another way to think of this is: Imagine on your way home from work one night you get hit by a bus and are in a coma (god forbid). The world continues to go on without you – whoever has to take over for you needs to have something to go on. Can they figure out your mess of notes?

On this note, start with the end in sight. What about the VISTA that replaces you eventually?  Do you want to have to write a procedures handbook to pass on to them during your last week as a VISTA Continue reading

NY Times Editorial Voices Strong Support for AmeriCorps

The NY Times logoSaturday, a New York Times editorial argued strongly for full funding of the Kennedy Serve America Act — the appropriation for which will be considered this week in the Senate.

Last week, the House of Representatives appropriated $90M less to implement the Kennedy Serve America Act than Pres. Obama requested in his proposed budget. In response, The New York Times printed an editorial urging Congress to fund the Act which was passed into law in April and could greatly expand the AmeriCorps family of programs and the number Continue reading

House Appropriates $1.069B for the Corporation

Youth Today’s Nancy Lewis reports today that the House of Representatives passed the appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Education Programs today with 264 representatives for it and 153 against.

National service supporters had hoped that the bill would fund the Corporation for National and Community Service at the President’s requested level, $1.149 billion. But Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) had hoped the final figure would be much lower. They proposed an amendment that would have decreased $169 million of the Corporation’s proposed budget in order to fund special education initiatives. (The $1.069 billion included in this appropriations bill for the Corporation represents a $169 million increase over last year’s Corporation budget.)

According to the Youth Today article:

There were virtually no changes from the committee version, despite the White House’s requests that the $90 million reduction in the proposed $1.159 billion allotment for CNCS be restored. Included in the $90 million reduction is a $15 million reduction in the proposed $50 million Social Innovation Fund.

The Senate debates its appropriations bill related to Corporation funding next Tuesday, July 28.

Princeton to Launch an International Service Year for Pre-College Students

Princeton will send admitted first-year students out into the world for 9 months of international public service.

Princeton student Zach Ruchman teaching in a Vietnam Classroom

Princeton student Zach Ruchman teaching in a Vietnam classroom

This fall, Princeton’s new Bridge Year Program aims to offer 20 admitted students a chance to live in a different culture, develop maturity and an international perspective, and a commitment to public service before coming back to Princeton to start their freshman year in the fall of 2010.

The program will teach the participants about host country health and safety, offer them language instruction, and place them in “humble service” projects at grassroots organizations, clinics, hospitals, schools, and orphanages. The goal is for participants to take on roles appropriate to their age and experience, and in jobs “that could not be held by local workers.” — My read on that last goal is they want to prevent the high school grads from displacing local jobs, not to imply that local workers are incapable of work that Princeton-bound kids can handle.

The Bridge Year participants will live in home stays, in communities near a few other Bridge Year participants, and near in-country support staff from partner organizations experienced with coordinating international volunteers.

Best of all, Princeton picks up most of the program costs — though participants who can afford it are responsible for flight Continue reading