New, Stimulus-funded AmeriCorps Programs Getting Off the Ground

New short-term AmeriCorps programs, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, are getting off the ground.

President Obama signed his stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, on February 17th, 2009. It included additional $201 million in funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service for AmeriCorps State and National, and AmeriCorps VISTA programs.

Funding has gone to existing programs to increase the number of open positions, and it’s also gone to organizations already running AmeriCorps programs, to create brand-new, short-term corps.

One example of a new stimulus-funded AmeriCorps program is the Oregon Community Action Corps — now accepting applications for 24 full-time AmeriCorps positions serving throughout the state of Oregon. OCAC will operate out of the American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter here in Portland, which also operates the state’s largest AmeriCorps State program, the Oregon State Service Corps and our largest VISTA program Clara Barton VISTA Corps (both are currently recruiting, also).

AmeriCorps members with the Oregon Community Action Corps (OCAC) serve individually or in small teams at Continue reading

Kevin Johnson Settles with the Federal Government – Former Corps Must Repay CNCS

Kevin Johnson

Update 6/12/09: For more background regarding the Corporation’s Inspector General Gerald Walpin’s role in the Kevin Johnson controversy, check out this article in Youth Today.

Kevin Johnson, Sacramento’s mayor, former Phoenix Suns point guard and former AmeriCorps program director, has settled with the Feds, clearing the way for Sacramento to receive stimulus funding.

Last fall, I wrote about Kevin Johnson’s missteps as head of an AmeriCorps program in Sacramento. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) accused him of wasting its money and directing corps members to do things clearly outside the bounds of AmeriCorps service.

The controversy didn’t end when he left his nonprofit St. HOPE Academy and its AmeriCorps program Hood Corps; nor when he ran to become mayor of Sacramento; nor when he took office as mayor. In fact, his questionable role with the AmeriCorps program threatened to prevent the city of Sacramento from receiving stimulus funding!

Because the Corporation (a federal organization) had named him in the excluded parties system he was not allowed to Continue reading

Why It’s Wrong to Assume that All Service Participants are Young

How branding national service as an opportunity only for young people does more harm to the movement than good.

Christian Witkin for TIME Magazine

Christian Witkin for TIME Magazine

While many service corps do have upper age limits — City Year, AmeriCorps*NCCC, Public Allies, and many other team-based programs — most programs do not have an upper age limit.

In fact, several programs specifically recruit professionalsExperience Corps, Atlas Corps, CUSO-VSO (the Canadian VSO), Volunteers for Prosperity, and United Nations Volunteers just to name a few. Others like Peace Corps and AmeriCorps*VISTA recruit almost entirely college graduates because of the skill required in carrying out service.

And yet when people speak of service they almost always describe it as an opportunity for young people to give back, receive scholarship money, develop leadership skills, and go an an adventure before settling down with a real job.

What difference does it make if most people think of national or international service as a pursuit for the young?

Here are some reasons:


If we assume only young people will enlist in a citizen service corps, we won’t recruit new corps members as creatively Continue reading

Rolling out stimulus AmeriCorps members

I listened to an open conference call hosted by Corporation for National and Community Service Chief of Program Operations Kristin McSwain. I am not going to post the more technical aspects of the call, but here are a few points I found interesting.

“Stimulus” members will serve alongside traditional members in existing programs (VISTA might be an exception). Stimulus members will address mostly these areas (though everything is still up in the air) :

1. Winterizing homes, housing access, keeping people in homes
2. Access to health care and providing health care
3. Nonprofit capacity building
4. Youth corps/development

Keep in mind, this is still separate from the Kennedy-Hatch “Serve America Act.”

Here’s the link to the page that will document the changes to national service through the Recovery Act. At the web site, you call a toll-free number to listen to a recording of the call.

Tracking upcoming national service moves

CNCS has a established an official page dedicated to how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will affect national service.

The plans are still a bit vague, but the dollars roll out quickly. I imagine existing programs will see an influx of members serving in economy-related areas pretty soon here.

For anyone with a keen interest in this, CNCS is hosting an open conference call on Friday, February 20. Anyone who misses the call will be able to hear a reply by dialing a toll-free number. All the details are on the web page.