As Demand Skyrockets, AmeriCorps Supports Largest Class Ever
Washington DC – The Corporation for National and Community Service announced the results of its 2009 funding competition today, selecting 259 national and local nonprofits that will engage 23,000 new AmeriCorps members in improving lives and strengthening communities from coast to coast.
AmeriCorps members will tutor and mentor at-risk youth, build homes, prevent high school dropouts and expand college access, conserve parks and public lands, support food banks and shelters, help communities recover from disasters, and recruit and mobilize volunteers.
The grants total $131 million and are going to a wide range of national and local organizations, state service commissions, faith-based groups, educational institutions, and Indian Tribes. Competition was stiff, with organizations requesting nearly twice as many member positions as were available and three times more state competitive funding than was available. Collectively, these members are projected to earn over $53.5 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards to help pay for college or to pay back student loans.
A complete list of grantees, amounts approved, and the numbers of AmeriCorps members supported is available by clicking here.
“AmeriCorps members give a tremendous boost to organizations that are serving our most vulnerable citizens and communities– especially during tough economic times,” said Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation. “As the economy drives up the demand for social services, AmeriCorps members and the volunteers they mobilize are a vital resource to meet immediate community needs and bring about lasting change.”
Today's grant announcement includes organizations that competed successfully to develop new AmeriCorps programs or to begin a new three year grant cycle, as well as grants for groups that are completing their second or third year. Later this summer, governor-appointed state commissions will announce AmeriCorps formula grants.
Together with other positions in AmeriCorps State and National, VISTA, and NCCC, today's announcement puts AmeriCorps on track to support nearly 75,000 members through regular fiscal 2009 funding. An additional 13,000 one-time positions were funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, allowing AmeriCorps to support the largest class in its 16-year existence.
The extra positions come as AmeriCorps is experiencing a rapid increase in interest and applications, fueled by a “compassion boom” of Americans wanting to help their neighbors in tough times, increased interest in public service by millennials and boomers, the economic downturn which is making more Americans take a closer look at service positions, and an “Obama effect” of people responding to the President's call to service. Last month, AmeriCorps received 35,922 online applications, nearly double the previous month and more than triple the 11,262 online applications received in May of 2008. Between November 2008 and May 2009, AmeriCorps received 112,326 online applications, up 226% from the same seven month period a year ago.
The grants also come as the Corporation for National and Community Service is working on its plan to implement the landmark Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act signed by President Obama on April 21. Among other provisions, the Act will set AmeriCorps on a path to grow from 75,000 to 250,000 annual positions by the year 2017. The agency is holding a cross-country Listening Tour and launched a website to get public input on implementing the Act.
Many of the new grants support increasing school success and high school graduation rates by focusing on improving academic performance of disadvantaged students. For example, Jumpstart will engage 1,040 AmeriCorps members to work one-on-one with low-income, preschool children in Head Start and other community learning centers. In Philadelphia, PA, Chester, PA and Trenton, NJ school districts, 221 Education Works AmeriCorps members will serve as teacher assistants, mentors, and on safety teams. In Austin, Texas, 120 members serving through Charles A. Dana Center will provide intensive, bilingual early literacy tutoring and family literacy support to students and their families.
The grants also support programs to help individuals improve their economic and social conditions. The Homeless & Housing Coalition of Kentucky will engage 40 members in serving homeless families and building and renovating homes for low-income families throughout Kentucky. The national grant to Habitat for Humanity will support 262 members to build homes and recruit, train, and manage volunteers.
Organizations that promote conservation and environmental protection were also funded. The Corps Network and its affiliated programs will engage 3,011 members in 25 states to carry out activities such as planting trees and vegetable gardens, removing invasive plants, constructing and maintaining trails, installing playgrounds, removing debris from flood channels, restoring wetlands, weatherizing homes, expanding recycling programs and participating in disaster recovery in flood and fire plagued states.
The grants will continue AmeriCorps support of entrepreneurial organizations that bring innovative business-based approaches to citizen problem-solving. They will also continue AmeriCorps emphasis on expanding capacity by recruiting and managing other volunteers. Last year, AmeriCorps programs mobilized and managed 2.2 million volunteers for the organizations they serve with.
“We have funded organizations that will best leverage the resources of AmeriCorps members to bring energy and hope to tackling some of the nation's most difficult problems,” said Kristin McSwain, Chief of Program Operations. “We are pleased to support the innovative models that have emerged to complement existing programs that make progress in communities every day.”