Battle in the House over the Continued Existence of AmeriCorps

Will the House kill the Corporation for National and Community Service?

The battle

According to Voices for National Service, this week the U.S. House of Representatives begins consideration of H.R. 1, a Continuing Resolution that will fund the last 7 months of Fiscal Year 2011 and eliminate AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Learn & Serve America and the Volunteer Generation Fund.

More info

The youth worker newspaper Youth Today posted:

And The New York Times’s columnist David Brooks wrote more about the budget mess last week.

Take action

Voices for National Service is urging people to contact their Representative and let them know how national and community service programs have made an impact in their lives and communities. From Voices for National Service:

Talking points for Calling the House of Representatives:

  • I am calling to urge you to vote NO on H.R. 1.  Please do not shutdown the Corporation for National and Community Service or eliminate AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Learn & Serve America or the Volunteer Generation Fund.
  • The CR will decimate vital services in our communities when millions of Americans need food, shelter, healthcare, job training and educational support.
  • Communities are counting on national service participants and community volunteers to meet the increased demand for services.
  • Provide an example of your local impact and what will be lost if your program is eliminated.  Example: My organization has 140 AmeriCorps members serving in 10 Boston Public Schools.  They are providing targeted and school-wide interventions in literacy, match, attendance and classroom behavior.  If Congress eliminates AmeriCorps, nearly 2,000 high-risk 3rd-9th graders will no longer receive this additional support in the classroom.
  • The CR will only push unemployment rates up.  Unemployment numbers — particularly for young people, veterans and military spouses, older Americans and people of color-remain alarmingly high.
  • For Americans who are struggling to find work, national service programs offer participants the opportunity to earn a subsistence-level stipend, develop skills, and create pathways to future employment.  Eliminating programs like AmeriCorps will result in jobs lost for the corps members and the staff who supervise them.  Example: If Congress eliminates AmeriCorps, our 140 AmeriCorps members and the staff that supervise them will be out of work.
  • The federal investment made in faith based and community organizations through the Corporation for National and Community Service leverages $799 million in matching funds from companies, foundations and other sources.
  • If you defund the national service programs, whole organizations will shut down and most will not be able to reopen again even if funding is restored.

How to Contact Your Member of Congress:

  • If you need help determining the members of your congressional delegation, visit www.congress.org. This database will provide you with contact information for your elected officials.
  • You can call your Representatives directly or be connected through the House Operator (202-225-3121).  Once connected, identify yourself as a constituent and ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant in change of national service and education issues.
  • Given the severity of the cuts proposed by the House, you may experience some difficulty calling the Capitol.  It is important that you keep trying.  If you can’t reach your representative by phone, please send a fax communication to their office.  This is time sensitive ask.  Emails or mailed letters will not reach the decision makers in time.  It is critical that our lawmakers hear from the constituents directly impacted by their decisions.

Voices for National Service also highlighted the many weeks this year when the House plans not to be in session, in honor of district “work weeks” when Representatives will be in their home districts. If you’re part of a national service corps, consider inviting Representative(s) for your region to visit service sites, meet with corps members, and see first hand what your program is doing in communities.

It’s hard to imagine that if Congressional Representatives knew what AmeriCorps members actually do, that they could turn their backs on communities in their own backyards by yanking such cost-effective, grassroots, direct & indirect support.

Three Newish Service Corps Recruiting Right Now

Innovative national service and fellowship programs focus creatively to solve serious social and environmental problems in our communities. At the same time, programs offer participants a chance to learn new technical and people skills, develop new social networks, and become part of a solution.

Currently, there are hundreds of diverse service corps working around the world – and right now, three relatively new programs are recruiting. See anything that is right for you?

featured

Be like the First Lady! (Photo: The White House Flickr feed)

FoodCorps (inaugural year!)
Application deadline: April 10th
Locations: Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon

FoodCorps is a brand-new, year-long service opportunity to help solve the obesity epidemic. Participants will build and/or tend school gardens, teach kids about food and nutrition, and coordinate farm-to-school programs in grassroots nonprofits, local health departments or farms.

Blue Engine (recruiting its second class of fellows)
Application deadline: April 6th
Locations: Public high schools in New York City

Blue Engine is recruiting recent college grads to facilitate daily, differentiated, small-group instruction for high school freshmen in order to increase the rigor of academic preparation for high schoolers so that when the students enter college, they are prepared to succeed there.

ProInspire (recruiting its third class of fellows)
Application deadline: February 25th
Locations: Nonprofits in Washington, DC

ProInspire recruits experienced business-sector professionals to play critical analytical or strategic roles in nonprofits in the Washington, DC-area during one-year Inspire Fellowships.

And that’s not all!

Many, many more service corps exist. Most are for people age 18 and up, and many have no upper age limit. The key to success in participating in a corps is to find the right one for you. To see a long list of corps and coalitions, check out The New Service blog and explore the Service Corps pages in our Career Center.

Are you thinking of a term of service? What programs are you considering?

Cross posted from Idealist.org.

HealthCorps Interview: Calvin Lambert

Calvin Lambert

Guest post by HealthCorps Coordinator Nathan Allen.

Calvin Lambert is an exceptional HealthCorps Coordinator at a High School in Brooklyn, NY.  Apart from his brilliant work with HealthCorps, Calvin is known for having a laugh that can bring an entire room together.

Calvin is concluding is term with HealthCorps this year and has been admitted to several top-tier medical schools (which he asked to remain undisclosed, as his decision is still pending).  I was fortunate to find a short break in his world-changing to catch up and throw a few questions at him.

Nathan:  I read, on your phenomenal school blog, that you intend to start a program for students where you will serve as a positive male role model for students who may not have one. What will this look like?

Calvin: I envision a forum where young men can come and discuss issues that they are passionate about…there are lots of things these kids deal with day-to-day that they don’t get a chance to express and this will be a place to open up about these feelings. I also want to design workshops here to address things like how to be a gentleman, things like respect, attitude, being professional, sexual education…

I noticed how many guys don’t seem to have respect for themselves and a lot of the time these guys are not focused in the classroom. I know there is a reason for this. I want to give them an opportunity to talk about these things so I can understand and then try to pull the potential out of them.

Nathan: It seems that improving health in all communities requires multifaceted approaches. Some things Continue reading

Sargent Shriver, 1915-2011

I was so sad yesterday when my husband let me know that Sargent Shriver had passed away. Shriver has been one of my

Sargent Shriver, from SargentShriver.org

personal heroes, representing to me boundless energy, open mindedness, and voracious intellectual curiosity.

In addition to his creativity in leadership, and his passion for his varied work (which varied greatly — from working in the Navy to managing buildings to heading up exciting government agencies), Sarge impressed me because of his ability to combine public service with family life.

He and his wife Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver maintained a robust family life while creating innovative programs that have made a lasting impact here and abroad. As the mother of two little kids (and the grandchild of a dyed-in-the-wool public servant), I’m learning to juggle family, service, work, and life, and I have been deeply moved and inspired by the example of the Shrivers and want to pass that example onto my children.

Here are the thoughts of Pete Hessler, a writer who was another Peace Corps Volunteer in China, about his impressions of Sarge, printed on The New Yorker site.

And to the Shriver family, I’m so sorry.