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.

Funding the Kennedy Serve America Act: Appropriations Process Begins Soon in Congress

Obama signs the Serve America Act, 4/09

Obama signs the Serve America Act, 4/09

Beginning in early July, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will mark up the fiscal year 2010 Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education Appropriations bills.

The Kennedy Serve America Act, enacted in April, authorized the expansion of national service, but offered no promises in terms of how much funding Congress would give the Corporation for National and Community Service to implement the Act. According to the organization Voices For National Service, President Obama’s budget request for the Corporation for National and Community Service totaled $1.149 billion, including funding for:

AmeriCorps: to create 10,000 new AmeriCorps positions (the first step towards the Serve America Act’s goal of 250,000 annual members by the year 2017). Learn why funding these positions is important for local communities throughout the United States.

  • $372.5 million for AmeriCorps State and National grants to support 74,861 members, $101 million or 37% increase over the FY09 enacted level. Continue reading

NCVS Opening Plenary Monday Night

Michelle Obama speaking at NCVS 09

Michelle Obama speaking at NCVS 09

The launch of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service Monday night brought a huge crowd of people out to hear First Lady Michelle Obama speak, among other familiar faces.

When I arrived, the throngs of people waiting in line to go through security matched the throngs of people already inside the hall, and everyone was waiting for Michelle Obama. Helping the time fly was comic/emcee Wally Collins who made fun of individual audience members between introducing musical acts like Sondre Lerche and the Glide Ensemble. Also in the lead-in to the main event, Shawn Rubin accepted the Eli Segal Award from AmeriCorps Alums, Alan Khazei of Be the Change, Inc., spoke introducing corporate sponsor Shannon Schuyler of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

The highlight of the night didn’t come at the end, as I would have expected. Michelle Obama took the stage somewhere in the middle of the opening event, and everyone in the crowd cheered and stood if they could. Her words were inspiring of course, but I was more stunned by the simple fact of her presence—the President’s wife chose to spend time with us. She used to run a Public Allies AmeriCorps program—and said to start that she was with her people. What I liked the best about what she said was the reaction she and President Obama received when they each decided to forego lucrative careers for nonprofit jobs—Mrs. Obama at Public Allies and Pres. Obama at various nonprofits like the Developing Communities Project where he was a community organizer. She said, regarding people in our lives who dismiss our career choices: “But what these folks don’t understand is that the story of progress in this nation has always been the story of people who chose — in times of trial and struggle — to serve it.”

Mrs. Obama also announced the launch of the United We Serve summer of service initiative, which will last through Sept. 11th of this year, which will make community service easy to do for anyone, and focus on health care, energy Continue reading

Launching Today: YouTube’s Video Volunteers

Originally posted on today’s Idealist homepage blog by Julia Smith.

President Obama has asked everyone in the United States to heed the call of service – to pitch in and make their communities a better place. YouTube is stepping up to provide a very “21st century” way of doing just that: a new program called YouTube’s Video Volunteers.

The mission of YouTube’s Video Volunteers platform is to connect nonprofit organizations with skilled video makers who can help them broadcast their causes through video, reaching new audiences online and driving action around issues and projects that matter to them.

The Video Volunteers page shows video-related volunteer opportunities that have been posted to Allforgood.org (which includes listings from Idealist.org and VolunteerMatch). As a result, a YouTuber eager to help out might find a listing like this (“Afro Diaspora Music Video Website” in New York City) or this (“Promotional Video for the GO-Science Challenger Learning Center” in Greenville, NC).

Do you work at a nonprofit that needs help making a video? From now on, when you post a volunteer opportunity on Idealist, make sure to use the words Video Volunteer in your posting. That way, it will show up in the AllforGood feed – and as a result, on the YouTube Video Volunteers page.

To learn more, visit youtube.com/videovolunteers.

The British Council Creates Global Connections and Impact Through Dialogue and Service

Professor Mike Hardy

Professor Mike Hardy, Photo by Kate Anderson

Amy Potthast first wrote about the British Council’s event and because I live in the nation’s capital, where the event was held, I had the good fortune of attending.

Admittedly, I was still reeling from Michelle Obama’s visit to CNCS — so the British Council event was yet another highlight on my calendar which made that week unforgettable, to say the least.

An impressive crowd gathered—approximately 50 attendants—at the Rayburn House Office Building for what was absolutely a lovely affair.  Lovely is not a word I usually use to describe a professional engagement, but I think this word comes to mind because of my British, or as I say, Bree-teesh, bias. Yes, I’m a sap for their accents and covet their seemingly inborn urbane manner.

Prior to the event, I was only loosely familiar with the work of the British Council—the United Kingdom’s international Continue reading

Business Professionals Forced to Wait Longer for Peace Corps Assignments

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the very tight funnel through which Peace Corps sends all applicants, for increasingly fewer Volunteer spots around the world. (It’s complicated — you might want to read that post.)

I wrote about the plight of generalists —the well-educated applicants who can learn to do different assignments well, but aren’t specialists in any fields currently requested by Peace Corps host countries — whose application numbers far exceed the number of open generalist Volunteer positions due to recent budget woes.

This past Monday, when next year’s Volunteer positions opened up for nomination, the problem wasn’t for the generalists. Most generalist openings have been delayed a couple more weeks.

The people who got shut out of Peace Corps this time around were the business professionals, in some cases people with 30 years of business experience. Peace Corps’s two assignments that require a background in business include:

  • Business Advising — requiring either a Bachelors in a business-related discipline, or a high school diploma and four years of business management experience. These Volunteers help people in their communities plan and Continue reading