Vicksburg, Miss.- A historic new collaboration between two federal agencies to strengthen the nation's disaster response capabilities was launched today as the nation's first 240 FEMA Corps members were sworn into service at an induction ceremony in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
FEMA Corps is an innovative partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to enhance disaster response and recovery capacity while expanding career opportunities for young people.
Established as a new unit within the existing AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), FEMA Corps engages young adults ages 18 to 24 to provide ten months of full-time service on disaster response and recovery projects. Members will be deployed to assignments ranging from working directly with disaster survivors to supporting disaster recovery centers to sharing disaster response and mitigation information with the public.
At today's induction ceremony, members of the inaugural FEMA Corps class took the AmeriCorps pledge to “get things done for America” and heard from agency leaders about the important work that lies ahead. FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino and CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer were on hand to welcome the members and thank them for their commitment to service.
“When I visit communities devastated by disasters like Joplin, Mo., I always find members of AmeriCorps lending a helping hand to survivors,” said Serino. “Today's inductees are taking part in an exciting new pursuit -- combining the exceptional record of citizen service at AmeriCorps NCCC with FEMA's specialized mission of supporting survivors with their recovery after a disaster. I commend and thank every member of the inaugural class of FEMA Corps for their dedication to helping communities in need.”
“I commend you for answering the call to serve and making a difference for people and communities in need,” said Spencer. “As the nation's very first FEMA Corps members, you are helping write a new chapter in the history of national service. With your training, backed by your team, and inspired by your passion, you will bring much-needed hope and assistance to disasters survivors. As you help others, this year will help you – giving you skills, expanding your opportunities, and setting you on a lifelong path of service to others.”
Today's induction ceremony marked the end of one month of AmeriCorps NCCC training and the start of FEMA position-specific training. After completing training this month, members will be deployed to their first assignments. FEMA Corps will supplement FEMA's existing Reservist workforce in assisting citizens and communities who have been impacted by disasters.
After completing 1,700 hours of service, FEMA Corps members will receive a $5,550 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to pay for tuition or pay student loans. Members will gain significant training and experience in disaster services that can serve as a pathway to employment in the emergency management profession.
FEMA Corps members will be based out of five AmeriCorps NCCC campuses across the country: Sacramento, Calif; Denver, Colo; Vinton, Iowa; Perry Point, Md; and, Vicksburg, Miss. The program will engage 1,600 members annually when fully operational next year.
Photos from the induction ceremony can be found here.