Kennedy Serve America Act/GIVE Act PASSES – On Its Way to Obama’s Desk

Update, April 21, 2009: President Obama signs the Serve America Act into law. To take effect October 1, 2009.

Guest contributor Put Barber is the Editor of the Nonprofit FAQ at Idealist.org.

The drama about a massive expansion in the national service programs is over. The House of Representatives adopted the Senate version of the Serve America Act on a vote of 275 to 149  at about 3 pm EST today. See how representatives voted on the Senate’s amendments to H.R. 1388.

The bill is the same as the version of the bill that passed the House last week, but the Senate version is different in several key ways.

Symbolically, the bill was renamed in honor of Senator Edward Kennedy, one of the original sponsors, who is currently undergoing treatment for a dangerous brain cancer.

Substantively, the restrictive language about advocacy that had been inserted into the House bill at the last minute was removed.

And interestingly, the Senate version includes start-up funding for a program of federal support for state-level nonprofit capacity-building centers across the country.

And, of course, at the headline level, the bill authorizes an increase from 75,000 to 250,000 in the numbers of enrollees in the various programs of the Corporation for National and Community Service — AmeriCorps, VISTA, and several others.

A good introduction to the details of the new programs can be found through the link on this Independent Sector website. Here is the text of the Serve America Act, as passed by the Senate (and approved today in the House) (PDF).