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.