AmeriCorps: Service, Sacrifice, and Solutions
The post was originally published on the White House Blog on March 11, 2013. Jonathan Greenblatt is Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation at the Domestic Policy Council.
Each generation of Americans embraces the belief that no problem is too big for a determined group of people to conquer. This challenge is central to national service, which gives thousands of Americans a chance to unite with like-minded people and work toward improving the lives of our most-vulnerable citizens.
Each year, we take time to honor this American tradition of service as we mark AmeriCorps Week.
During this week, March 9– 17, we salute AmeriCorps members and alums for their service, thank AmeriCorps community partners, and communicate AmeriCorps' impact on communities and on the lives of those who serve.
Since 1994, more than 800,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1 billion hours in service to others across America. Currently, more than 75,000 AmeriCorps members are touching the lives of millions as they tackle challenges that improve lives, strengthen communities, expand economic opportunity, and bolster civic and faith-based organizations.
AmeriCorps may be one of America's best assets, with members making an impact through organizations such as the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Public Allies, and Teach for America. In addition, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and VISTA, the longtime anti-poverty program, are transforming communities every day.
Service is a proven solution for our nation whether national service members are providing disaster relief and recovery services in the AmeriCorps NCCC and its FEMA Corps unit; enhancing educational outcomes through teaching, tutoring, or mentoring efforts; or supporting veterans and military families with re-entry and employment services.
The following are just a few examples of how AmeriCorps members are “working for America”:
- In the past year, I met with and witnessed the work of the more than 2,400 AmeriCorps members who participated in relief and recovery efforts for Hurricane Sandy. Disasters require an immediate response to needs in the immediate aftermath of the storm as well as longer-term recovery efforts that benefit storm survivors.
- More than 17,000 veterans have served in AmeriCorps since its inception, helping other veterans and military families get benefits and services; obtain job training and conduct job searches; provide safe and affordable housing; and mentor and tutor children of service members.
- The Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service recently announced the formation of the School Turnaround AmeriCorps, a new program that will support a dedicated unit of national service members who will provide additional support and resources in the nation's persistently underachieving schools.
Service initiatives like AmeriCorps do more than move communities forward; they serve their members by creating jobs and providing pathways to opportunity for young people entering the workforce. AmeriCorps places thousands of young adults into intensive service positions where they learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop an appreciation for citizenship.
AmeriCorps is a program that's right for the times in which we live and demonstrates what happens when our nation invests in “getting things done.”