Saving Northwest Service Academy

The Pacific Northwest national service community has been rocked this past week with the news that one of our most vibrant AmeriCorps National programs has lost its AmeriCorps funding starting in September of 2010.

Northwest Service Academy‘s AmeriCorps program partners with local agencies, schools, and organizations to tackle environmental projects in the Pacific Northwest.  Its LINKS program works with partnering agencies to directly address education, public safety, the environment and other community needs. It’s sponsored and supported over 4,000 AmeriCorps members.

The funding situation means that as things currently stand, this year’s members will serve out their terms (as late as November) but the 75 placement sites already selected for the coming year will likely not be able to recruit people to fill needed service positions. Continue reading

AmeriCorps Connect Launches – New Site to Help You Access AmeriCorps Stuff

Today, the Corporation for National and Community Service announced the launch of its new web portal, AmeriCorps Connect — a one-stop shop for frequently-used national service content.

Frequent visitors to other national service sites like NationalService.gov and AmeriCorps.org will notice that AmeriCorps Connect’s homepage is less-text heavy.

The home page features three types of links, explained this way in today’s announcement:

LEARN includes links to resources designed to help you with the day-to-day aspects of your job such as grant management, member management, and service-related activities.

CONNECT includes social media and other tools, including a wiki to help you collaborate with your staff, partners, and other stakeholders. Use it to create and edit shared documents or other project communications. Subscribe to an AmeriCorps e-mail list, or check out the upcoming national service events Continue reading

Can AmeriCorps Members Raise Funds for Haiti?

AmeriCorps State and National members are typically limited in the amount of fund raising they are allowed to do during hours they count towards their 1700 hours.(AmeriCorps VISTA members are not restricted and often hold grant writing and other development positions.)

Today, Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, issued a statement indicating that national service members may be permitted to take part in fundraising for the Haiti earthquake relief effort “within certain limits” and “as supplemental to the core program activity:”

We have been asked whether it is permissible for national service programs to participate in fundraising and other community outreach efforts in support of Haiti earthquake relief.  Within certain limits to be discussed with Corporation program officers, it is generally permissible for national service participants to support this activity as supplemental to the core program activity.  We are putting together more detailed answers to frequently-asked questions for programs considering ways to contribute to the relief effort, to be posted and updated as needed.  Please forward any questions you have to your program officer so that we can provide specific guidance.

I’ll update this post when more details are available.

Senate Approves Funding for Peace Corps and AmeriCorps Programs

Today the Senate  gave final congressional approval to a package of six appropriations bills to fund many government programs for Fiscal Year 2010, including 1.149 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service, and  $400 million for the Peace Corps.

President Obama is expected to sign the appropriations package into law shortly.

The $400 million appropriation for Peace Corps is larger than Obama’s budget request, and it means that the agency should be able to place higher numbers of Volunteers in the field.

The $1.149 billion appropriation is the largest in the history of the Corporation for National and Community Service — $260 million more than last year. The increased funding will make it possible for the organization to move forward implementing initiatives authorized by April’s Serve America Act. Here’s an excerpt from this afternoon’s announcement:

The budget provides increases for all the Corporation’s programs, including a significant expansion of AmeriCorps, taking the first step towards the Serve America Act goal of 250,000 AmeriCorps members by 2017.  In addition to increasing member positions, the bill funds the first-ever increase in the dollar amount of the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award members earn in return for their service. The $220.9 million for Senior Corps includes increases for all three Senior Corps programs and will support nearly 500,000 older volunteers to meet local needs through service.  The five percent increase for Learn and Serve America will support 1.3 million participants, increase the number of disadvantaged youth participating, and begin a 10-year longitudinal study on the impact of service-learning.

The legislation funds a number of new initiatives, including $50 million for the Social Innovation Fund, which will help solve some of our nation’s most difficult social challenges by investing in promising programs and practices that have demonstrated outcomes. In addition, $4 million was included for the Volunteer Generation Fund to develop and improve volunteer recruitment efforts, $1 million will support a new Nonprofit Capacity Building Program, and $2 million was allocated for a new Summer of Service program to engage middle school students in community-based service-learning projects.  For more information on the Corporation’s Fiscal 2010 budget, click here.

For Corps Members: Free or Low-Cost Gift Ideas for People You Love

homemade soap, wrapped in cloth

Giving gifts when you are a corps member.

Last year I wrote about how people can show love to the corps member in their life through their holiday gift-giving. This year I wanted to offer some ideas about how corps members themselves can give gifts when their incomes are often incredibly limited.

I asked The New Service contributors and currently serving corps participants Marissa Pherson of AmeriCorps VISTA and Leslie Dolland of Health Corps to share their thoughts, too. Here are the ideas we’ve collectively come up with.

Setting the Stage for Frugal Gift Exchange

If you are gathering many other corps members, extended family, or among a group of old friends, consider throwing a White Elephant party swapping gifts doesn’t have to be expensive when you’re swapping things you already own.

If you are exchanging gifts individually with others — your partner, close friends, family members, and/or fellow corps members — consider setting some ground rules such as: Continue reading

Service At Home and Abroad: A Joint Peace Corps and AmeriCorps Web Chat

A live, online chat to help you sort out the differences among several service corps.

You knew that Peace Corps Volunteers serve abroad and AmeriCorps members serve in the States. But…

Did you know that Peace Corps Volunteers receive a readjustment allowance at the end of their term totalling around $6,000 — but that AmeriCorps members earn an Education Award (around $5,000) that can be used for tuition and student loans?

Did you know that some AmeriCorps VISTA terms are as brief as 8 weeks, while Peace Corps lasts around 27 months?

Did you know that AmeriCorps members can take on part-time jobs during their term, but Peace Corps Volunteers and VISTAs can’t?

Prospective participants in these programs can get the inside scoop on the differences and similarities among these service corps tomorrow. In honor of the September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance, Peace Corps and AmeriCorps are coming Continue reading