$216 Million to Support Organizations Using Service as a Solution to Social and Economic Problems
New Orleans, La. -- As thousands of service leaders and social entrepreneurs wrapped up the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering and Service here today, Corporation for National and Community Service Acting CEO Robert Velasco announced $216 million in AmeriCorps grants to strengthen the impact of more than 300 organizations across the country in tackling the most pressing challenges facing communities and the nation.
The grants will support 50,000 new AmeriCorps members who will serve from coast to coast, strengthening education, providing disaster services, assisting veterans and military families, preserving the environment, expanding health services, and fostering economic opportunity.
The grants carry out the vision of the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and the agency's 2011-2015 Strategic Plan by driving towards greater impact on key challenges in communities and the nation. The grants target resources on a core set of critical problems and use standardized performance measures to evaluate success. A complete list of grants is available by clicking here.
“At a time of great human need, AmeriCorps members are serving millions of our most vulnerable citizens and having a positive and lasting impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation,” said Robert Velasco, II, Acting CEO of CNCS. “AmeriCorps members and the millions of volunteers they mobilize are a vital resource to help local leaders meet immediate community needs and make a lasting difference.”
The grants will go to a wide range of national and local nonprofit organizations, community and faith-based groups, educational institutions, and Indian Tribes. AmeriCorps members supported by these grants are projected to earn more than $140 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards to help pay for college or to pay back student loans.
In addition to the $216 million in competitive AmeriCorps funding, CNCS is also awarding $118 million in formula funding to Governor-appointed state service commissions and territories. Formula funds will be sub-granted this summer by commissions to organizations in their states to support additional AmeriCorps members. Together with other positions in AmeriCorps VISTA and NCCC, AmeriCorps is projected to support approximately 80,000 members this year.
The current year's AmeriCorps grant cycle was highly competitive, due to the strong and growing demand by organizations seeking AmeriCorps resources and a $23 million cut in AmeriCorps grant funding over last year's level. Organizations requested nearly twice the number of grant dollars and AmeriCorps positions than could be funded.
"The surging demand for AmeriCorps members by organizations across the country is a testament to the value of this program and the transforming impact AmeriCorps members have on pressing challenges facing communities,” said John Gomperts, Direct of AmeriCorps. "AmeriCorps members bring the energy and talent to supercharge nonprofits so that they can increase their impact. And like serving in the military or the Peace Corps, being an AmeriCorps member is patriotic act and experience that helps to form the next generation of leaders in all sectors of society.”
Interest in AmeriCorps is also surging from those eager to serve. AmeriCorps applications from individuals jumped from about 360,000 in the 2008-2009 program year to more than 536,000 last year.
“These applications are a reminder that today's young people – and those young in spirit - are eager to make a difference, to have a purpose, to serve a cause larger than themselves," said Gomperts.
The grants make a focused investment in the six priorities laid out in the Serve America Act of disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families. Below are some examples of the organizations receiving funds in the 2011 competition:
- Disaster Services: The American National Red Cross will support 51 AmeriCorps members to recruit and support volunteers in providing disaster services and educating citizens on emergency preparedness and response. The Partnership for Youth's AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team, which currently is playing a critical role responding to the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, will engage 35 members in providing disaster relief in Missouri and across the country.
- Economic opportunity: Through their $8.9 million grant, YouthBuild USA, Inc. will engage 2,957 members from disadvantage circumstances in renovating houses and buildings for low-income families as they gain education and professional schools. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation's $2.15 million grant will support 240 LISC AmeriCorps members to provide employment services, financial literacy training, after-school activities and improvements to neighborhood safety.
- Education: Teach for America's $9.6 million grant will support more than 5,600 classroom teachers for under-resourced schools in 39 regions. Harlem Children's Zone Peacemaker Program will engage 135 AmeriCorps members in providing in-class and after school literacy-based and conflict resolution training for children in Harlem elementary schools. Okeene Public Schools in Oklahoma will engage 36 AmeriCorps members in providing tutoring for students during and after school each day resulting in increased academic achievement for students attending rural schools in Northwest Oklahoma. Goodwill Industries of Northern New England will engage 63 AmeriCorps members in providing mentoring and academic support services to at-risk middle and high-school students in rural communities in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
- Environmental Stewardship: The Corps Network will engage 3,051 members in variety of community and environmental improvement projects across the U.S. while gaining valuable skills and training to increase their employment prospects. The Great Basin Institute's Nevada Conservation Corps AmeriCorps Program will engage 143 members in removing invasive species, reducing wildfire risk and carrying out other public land restoration activities. Sixteen AmeriCorps members with Save the Bay, Inc., in Rhode Island will provide hands-on environmental education programming to third grade students, and after-school and summer camp environmental education programs.
- Health: FoodCorps, Inc., a new AmeriCorps program, will engage 50 AmeriCorps members in 10 states to conduct food and nutrition education, establish or expand school garden programs; and source farm-fresh school meals for K-12 students to reduce the rate of childhood obesity in America. The Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Wisconsin will engage 75 AmeriCorps members across the state to recruit volunteers to address community health improvements particularly focused on reduction and prevention of substance abuse among youth. Playworks will engage 80 AmeriCorps members to lead in and after school physical education activities focused on combating child obesity.
- Veterans and Military Families Veterans and Military Families: The Westcare Foundation will engage 40 AmeriCorps members, who are veterans and members of military families, to provide housing, employment, and substance abuse services to veterans in ten states and two territories. The AMVETS Career Center in Columbus, Ohio, will engage 24 AmeriCorps members to conduct outreach to veterans to help returned veterans find employment by assessing veterans' skills and employability needs; creating career development plans and providing referrals to potential employers.
The grants announced today implement Serve America Act program changes to increase AmeriCorps' impact, efficiency, and cost effectiveness. Among those are standardized national performance measures that will allow for aggregated impact reporting on how AmeriCorps is addressing national challenges that will have a ripple effect on the larger nonprofit sector, increasing the focus on outcomes and performance.
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 2.6 million volunteers for the organizations they serve with.
In the past 17 years, more than 700,000 men and women have served in AmeriCorps, providing more than 860 million hours of service. AmeriCorps members serve with more than 14,000 nonprofit, faith-based, and community groups each year, helping them expand their reach and better meet their mission.
Most of the positions announced today will be available starting in the fall. Interested individuals can learn about available opportunities and submit an online application by visiting AmeriCorps.gov.