For decades, national service has been a cost-effective solution to critical challenges facing our communities and nation. Recognizing the value of national service in improving lives and strengthening communities, President Obama created the Task Force on Expanding National Service in July 2013 to expand national service to meet national needs through collaboration with other Federal agencies and the private sector.
In July 2014, CNCS joined with the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to launch Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps. The program, which totals up to $10 million over three years, will enroll at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth in national service projects sponsored by the AmeriCorps program. The program seeks to involve up to 100 youth in its first year, with hopes of engaging as many as 300 over a three-year period, allowing them to participate in a variety of direct service activities.
The success of our nation's youth depends on a combination of individual initiative, the support and encouragement of friends and family, a solid education, and a crucial fourth ingredient: the opportunity for service that can provide a sense of connection and purpose. For too many young people, access to civic engagement is all but foreclosed by prior involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps not only will deploy additional foot soldiers in the march toward safer, healthier communities, but it will open up avenues to self-improvement that have long been denied many of these kids. Investing in education, mentoring, and job training is far less expensive than paying for the juvenile justice and social services many of these young people would otherwise need.