Extending Noncompetitive Eligibility to All Former, Full-Time AmeriCorps Members

A movement to extend one benefit of AmeriCorps VISTA and Peace Corps service to other service corps alums.

When AmeriCorps VISTA members and Peace Corps Volunteers finish their service, they are eligible for a year of noncompetitive eligibility when applying for jobs in the Federal government. AmeriCorps State and National members are not eligible for this benefit, though there’s mounting support to change this discrepancy.

Having noncompetitive eligibility status means you can apply for federal jobs posted with a special status (“noncompetitive appointment eligibility”) in addition to federal jobs that are open to the public. Additionally, Federal managers are free to hire you without holding a competition, so hiring and selection processes are expedited for people who’ve already demonstrated a commitment to public service.

With noncompetitive eligibility status, you don’t gain any entitlement to Federal employment but your special status does give federal agencies the option of directly selecting you for a vacant position if you are rated as “qualified” for a particular Continue reading


Funding the Kennedy Serve America Act: Appropriations Process Begins Soon in Congress

Obama signs the Serve America Act, 4/09

Obama signs the Serve America Act, 4/09

Beginning in early July, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will mark up the fiscal year 2010 Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education Appropriations bills.

The Kennedy Serve America Act, enacted in April, authorized the expansion of national service, but offered no promises in terms of how much funding Congress would give the Corporation for National and Community Service to implement the Act. According to the organization Voices For National Service, President Obama’s budget request for the Corporation for National and Community Service totaled $1.149 billion, including funding for:

AmeriCorps: to create 10,000 new AmeriCorps positions (the first step towards the Serve America Act’s goal of 250,000 annual members by the year 2017). Learn why funding these positions is important for local communities throughout the United States.

  • $372.5 million for AmeriCorps State and National grants to support 74,861 members, $101 million or 37% increase over the FY09 enacted level. Continue reading

RPCV Senator Dodd Introduces More Peace Corps Bill

This week, RPCV Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced s.1382, the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009.

The bill, as currently written, would authorize $450,000,000 for fiscal year 2010; $575,000,000 for fiscal year 2011; and $700,000,000 for fiscal year 2012 — representing a gradual increase to double Peace Corps’s current budget. The bill also requires the agency director carry out assessments that lead to a new strategic plan. (As of now, Obama hasn’t appointed a new Peace Corps director, Jody Olsen serves as Acting Director.)

Read the legislation (PDF). After it was introduced, the bill was sent to the Committee on Foreign Relations. (Is your Senator a member of this committee?)

Here is the transcript of Dodd’s speech on the floor of the Senate Thursday. Thanks to Jonathan Pearson at the National Peace Corps Association for this text:

Mr. President:

I rise today to introduce the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009.

For 48 years, the Peace Corps has stood as a uniquely American institution.  What other great nation would Continue reading

Nita Lowey Announces $450M for Peace Corps on Chris Matthews Show

RPCV Chris Matthew, RPCV Maureen Orth, and Rep. Nita Lowey on Hardball

RPCV Chris Matthew, RPCV Maureen Orth, and Rep. Nita Lowey on Hardball

More Peace Corps is looking more likely.

This afternoon, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced on RPCV Chris Matthew’s show Hardball that the proposed Peace Corps budget would increase to $450 million (over $340 million, last year) that would help expand Peace Corps’s presence to 20 additional countries.

Congress will vote next week. Lowey chairs the Appropriations Committee.

Check out the segment here (find the story “What’s Next for the Peace Corps?” among the images to the left of the video player).

More Peace Corps Rally Saturday, June 13th

More Peace CorpsShow your support for More Peace Corps at a rally in Washington, DC, tomorrow from 2-4 pm at Freedom Plaza.

Hundreds of former Peace Corps volunteers will come together tomorrow to remind President Obama of his campaign pledge to build a Peace Corps of 16,000 volunteers by 2011, the 50th anniversary of the agency.

The rally will culminate with a march to the White House, led by Tim Shriver — CEO of Special Olympics International and son of Peace Corps’s founding director Sargent Shriver.  Leamer, a speaker at the event as well as one of its organizers, insists the event isn’t anti-Obama, but a friendly reminder to honor his own campaign promise.

The event will feature music from an 22-woman Brazilian drumming group Batala, Peruvian flutist Juan Cayrampoma and the American rock-n-roll band Cairo Fred.

In addition to Tim Shriver, event speakers will include:

What Happened to Getting Rid of the Taxes on the Education Award?

Institutions that Match the Ed AwardWhen the various bills that became the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act were in play, there was talk about eliminating the taxes from the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.

In case you are new to national service, the education award is the post-service benefit received by AmeriCorps and VISTA members that can help them pay for educational expenses and/or student loans. It’s considered taxable income.

It was never the Kennedy bill but rather a separate bill introduced by Senator Dodd of Connecticut that would have ended the tax on the education award. Late in the process, elements of Dodd’s national service bills were incorporated into the Serve America Act. However, the elimination of the taxes on the education award was not one of those elements. The tax remains.

I called Senator’s Dodd office last week and asked a staffer if there were any plans to follow through with Continue reading

Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009 Passes Committee in the House

Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia corps member cuts a fallen tree.

Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia corps member cuts a fallen tree.

Today the House Natural Resources Committee passed the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009.

H.R. 1612, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009, aims to mobilize thousands of service corps participants over the next few years to help the national parks and other public lands restore and repair lands; engage exponentially more volunteers to serve episodically in the parks; to invest in a new, more diverse generation of National Park Service leaders.

Introduced to the House of Representatives in April by U.S. Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), the bill next goes to the floor of the House for a vote. (Go here to contact your Representative in favor of the bill.) No companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate yet.

Projects could include rehabilitating campgrounds, restoring historic structures, eradicating invasive Continue reading