New AmeriCorps Grants for Veterans Corps Strengthen Administration's Joining Forces Initiative
Chicago - The Corporation for National and Community Service announced that more than 1,000 new AmeriCorps members will deploy across the United States in 2012 to provide education, employment and other services to veterans and military families, the largest number in the agency's history.
These new AmeriCorps members will add to the support of more than 140 organizations that will engage over 27,000 Senior Corps and AmeriCorps members to serve 600,000 veterans and military families in more than 200 communities across the country, giving a major boost to the Joining Forces initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.
“Our military families have done so much for our country and each of us can do something in return,” said Dr. Biden. “You empower a veteran every time you give them an opportunity to serve again.” Dr. Biden spoke to thousands of nonprofit and national service leaders at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, encouraging service as a solution for veterans and military families.
“Our servicemen and women risk everything to protect America. It is our solemn obligation to support them and their families when they come home,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “At CNCS, we have taken this mission to heart. Serving and engaging veterans and military families is a top priority for us, and we are proud to make significant new investments to support those who have served.”
Spencer announced that CNCS will award more than $6.2 million in AmeriCorps grants to organizations including the American Legion Auxiliary, AMVETS, the California Department of Veterans Affairs, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Points of Light, Rebuilding Together, the Washington Vet Corps, and others.
AmeriCorps members will provide a range of services including employment placement,, behavioral health counseling services, community rehabilitation and reintegration projects, homeless veteran support and financial literacy, and tutoring children of deployed service members.
This year, CNCS will also provide at least $3 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards to the new AmeriCorps members to use to pay for college or pay back student loans. Many of the AmeriCorps members supported by these grants will be veterans themselves, providing additional education benefits that they can use to assist in reintegration and employment.
“The skills and leadership abilities forged in the hills of Afghanistan and sands of Iraq can be applied to solving problems here at home,” said Koby J. Langley, CNCS' Senior Advisor for Wounded Warrior, Veterans and Military Family Initiatives. “We know this new Greatest Generation of veterans coming home has a deep desire to serve. AmeriCorps offers an opportunity to continue serving on a different battlefield, helping meet challenges in our communities. More than 16,000 military veterans have already served as AmeriCorps members -- they exemplify the ethos of selfless-service and leadership.”
The new investments advance the vision of the 2009 Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and the agency's year five-year strategic plan, which made veterans and military families an agency priority. The agency's commitment is twofold: to tap the skills and leadership abilities of veterans to serve in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps and to expand the range of services national service programs provide to veterans and military families.
CNCS provides financial and human capital support to hundreds of nonprofits that serve and engage the military community including Give an Hour, the American Legion Auxiliary, Operation Homefront, Blue Star Families, the National Military Family Association, Ride 2 Recovery, the Veterans Innovation Center, The Mission Continues, and many others. State Service Commissions in 26 states are developing innovative service programs to support and engage veterans and military families. Many of these funds are matched by private entities to ensure maximum return on taxpayer dollars.
At the National Conference, CNCS also joined with nonprofit and community leaders to plan a large expansion of the Community Blueprint, a model for veteran and family reintegration. These partners, including Points of Light, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the American Legion Auxiliary, are working expand the model to 200 cities and engage more than 20,000 veterans as mentors and volunteer leaders, and leverage more than 500,000 volunteers.
“Over the next five years, more than one million of our military men and women will come home from war zones. Many will face challenges making the transition back into civilian life. All of us can do more to help them make this transition,” said Spencer. “We need to ensure these returning heroes have jobs, housing, and opportunities to continue serving and we must also engage veterans and military families to leverage their talents and skills as national service leaders.”
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.