Washington D.C. -- Last week, thousands of Americans across the country participated in the sixth annual AmeriCorps Week, recognizing the quiet dedication of AmeriCorps members and alumni who are building stronger, safer, and healthier communities through service.
AmeriCorps Week 2012 was marked by service projects, career panels, forums, recruitment fairs, presentations, and recognition ceremonies. The theme of 2012 AmeriCorps Week, “AmeriCorps Works”, was used to communicate AmeriCorps' triple bottom line return on investment -- for the recipients of service, the people who serve, and the larger community and nation.
"AmeriCorps members are improving the lives of millions of citizens and having a positive and lasting impact on the toughest challenges facing our communities,” said Robert Velasco, II, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "AmeriCorps Week is a way to honor the commitment and selflessness of AmeriCorps members and highlight the power of service to make a difference in communities and the lives of those who serve.”
Every year, more than 80,000 AmeriCorps members serve through 15,000 nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country, working to improve the lives of the people they serve. Members tutor and mentor at-risk youth, help returned veterans find employment, respond to disasters, care for seniors, promote economic development, and meet other critical needs.
In 2011, AmeriCorps members mobilized 3.4 million community volunteers, and tutored, mentored or served more than 3.5 million disadvantaged youth. Since 1994, more than 775,000 men and women have taken AmeriCorps's pledge to "get things done for America," providing more than 1 billion hours of service.
More individuals than ever are raising their hand to take the AmeriCorps pledge. CNCS received a record-breaking 582,000 AmeriCorps applications in 2011, a dramatic increase from the 360,000 seen in 2009. Demand is also strong for national service resources. Last year nonprofit and community groups requested nearly twice the number of grant dollars and AmeriCorps positions than could be funded.
During AmeriCorps Week, CNCS and the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched FEMA Corps, an innovative partnership designed to strengthen the nation's ability to respond to and recover from disasters while expanding career opportunities for young people.
Building on a longstanding partnership between FEMA and CNCS on disaster response, FEMA Corps will support an additional 1,600 AmeriCorps NCCC members solely devoted to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. This innovative partnership will enhance the nation's disaster capabilities, expand services to disaster survivors, increase opportunity for young people, and achieve savings to the taxpayer of $60 million per year when fully operational.
CNCS also kicked off the 2012 AmeriCorps Video and Photo Contest. The contest, which runs through July 1, asks current AmeriCorps members and alums to submit videos or still photos demonstrating the theme of AmeriCorps Works. Prizes range up to $4,000 for the winning video. More information is available at the contest websites at http://americorpsvideo.challenge.gov/ and http://americorpsphoto.challenge.gov/.
More than 200 AmeriCorps Week 2012 events took place around the country. Highlights include:
· New York: AmeriCorps members and volunteers teamed up to rebuild a blighted house, removing the former drug house and renovating it completely on Buffalo's West Side.
· New Jersey: AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors and Sustainable Cherry Hill hosted a “Dash for Trash” clean up event.
· Oklahoma: AmeriCorps members and volunteers participated in a cleanup at the Ardmore Animal Shelter.
· Montana: AmeriCorps members invited the public to participate in two projects in Bozeman – a Habitat for Humanity refurbishing and gutting of an existing house and assembling outdoor kennels and fencing for the Stafford Animal Shelter.
· California: The Lake County Office of Education's AmeriCorps program and community partners hosted the third annual All AmeriCorps Food Drive. Over the past 11 years, the Lake County Office of Education's AmeriCorps program has collected and donated more than 46,000 pounds of food to our local food cupboards.
· Indiana: Indianapolis AmeriCorps Alums hosted a job fair and resume workshops for AmeriCorps members and alums.
· Wisconsin: AmeriCorps members and volunteers cleaned, repaired, painted, and restored beehive components that will be made available to Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary and Nature Center in Sarona for use by volunteer beekeepers to help care for pollinators and from which honey will be extracted for the needs of Hunt Hill.
· Pennsylvania: More than 600 AmeriCorps members serving in Philadelphia participated in an AmeriCorps Week Rally.
· Arizona: More than 500 AmeriCorps members and their families were honored during the opening ceremony at a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game and were.
· California: First 5 AmeriCorps members teamed up with Hands Together to paint the entire exterior walls of their preschool building that has been vandalized by graffiti.
Federal, state, and local elected officials celebrated the work done by AmeriCorps members in their communities during AmeriCorps Week 2012. Sixteen governors from across the country recognized AmeriCorps Week through governor proclamations, and other visited AmeriCorps programs or joined in service projects.
AmeriCorps Alums hosted multiple events throughout AmeriCorps Week, including networking events, service projects, and community outreach events, many focused on how to utilize the AmeriCorps experience in professional careers. More than 160 AmeriCorps alums attended their AmeriCorps Town Hall Webinar where inspirational stories were shared by four Alumni panelists on how AmeriCorps helped them find their passion and the path to achieving it.