Thank You and Farewell!

Jan 19, 2017
Dear National Service and Social Innovation Colleagues,
My term as the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service has come to a close.  I leave Washington, D.C., this week with an overflowing cup of gratitude and pride on what we have all accomplished together over these past five years. 
On March 1, I will become President and CEO of Leadership Florida, a respected nonpartisan convener of committed individuals that enhances the knowledge and leadership abilities of Florida’s leaders through educational programs and by encouraging collaborative work for the betterment of the state.  As an alum of Leadership Florida, I am thrilled that members of the organization’s board of directors have placed their confidence in me to lead the organization which is marking its 35th anniversary.
I offer a sincere thanks to each of you for your support and want to shine a light on some of the amazing accomplishments we have achieved together.
The current federal appropriation of $1.1 billion is the second largest in our agency’s history and the largest appropriation for AmeriCorps, all accomplished with strong and growing bipartisan support in Congress.  Today, 244,000 Senior Corps volunteers serve our nation through RSVP, Senior Companions, and Foster Grandparents - all while providing valuable benefits to the volunteers themselves.  Nearly 80,000 AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC members are serving in 21,000 locations.  Combined, these Senior Corps and AmeriCorps members will help recruit, motivate, and manage an expected 2.5 million additional volunteers in programs important to citizens at the local level this year.  This extraordinary “force for good” is contributing every day to making a stronger, better America.
This past October, we inducted the one millionth AmeriCorps member!  It was a thrill to watch astronaut Dr. Kate Rubins induct AmeriCorps members from space as she issued the AmeriCorps pledge.  And AmeriCorps alums are taking on all types of leadership roles in society as nonprofit directors, teachers, corporate managers, public servants, and even starting their own nonprofits and businesses large and small.
The Social Innovation Fund has provided some of the greatest leverage of local resources among our programs.  To date, the SIF has served more than 700,000 people in 44 states and D.C. through 469 high-performing nonprofits.  In seven years, it has leveraged private-sector matching commitments totaling $697 million - more than double the federal investment. This program has been tackling some of America’s toughest issues including chronic homelessness, unemployment, workforce readiness, mental health, and early childhood education, and its innovative Pay for Success model is producing better outcomes and saving tax dollars by only paying providers after they have produced clear results.
Our federal agency has a unique role in partnering with states through each of the 52 Governor-appointed State Service Commissions.  These Commissions administer the majority of AmeriCorps funding, ensuring that decisions, solutions, and progress occurs at the local level in the areas of greatest importance to their communities.  My compliments to these State Commissions who have some of the most-dedicated staff and commissioners I have ever met. 
When our fellow citizens need us, we are there to deliver results:  
  • This past November, I was in Michigan, a state where a community-led initiative called the Urban Safety Corps brings together AmeriCorps members, police officers, and local residents to improve safety.  In the neighborhoods where AmeriCorps members serve, crime has declined by 26%. Flint now has an Urban Safety Corps model and other communities across the nation are considering establishing their own programs.  And a side benefit has emerged: public safety officers and citizens are gaining respect for one another while serving together. Programs with results should be replicated!
  • From disasters and emergencies in Joplin, Flint, Baton Rouge, Columbia, S.C., Moore, OK, West, Texas, and New Jersey and New York to name a few of the 200 disaster we have responded to, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members are on the ground restoring hope and serving alongside residents to rebuild their communities.
  • National service members are serving in 11,000 high-need public schools, where we are improving students’ reading and math skills and helping increase the graduation rate to record levels.  One of my favorite examples of our effectiveness is an independent study that shows that kindergarten students with an AmeriCorps tutor performed twice as well as students without one.
  • We are at the forefront in engaging veterans in national service, from recent servicemen and women in AmeriCorps to veterans in Senior Corps who proudly served our nation in previous wars.  They are finding their next mission, helping fellow veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder or navigate their way through college.  In addition to welcoming veterans as participants in national service, we also served 750,000 veterans and military family members in just the last year. We established the National Veterans Corps to recognize the 23,000 veterans who are serving in Senior Corps and AmeriCorps as members and volunteers. Veterans Day now has new meaning as each year we will recognize these members with formal pinning ceremonies in communities where they serve.
Working together, we have made sure that elected officials at all levels -- as well as corporate and foundation supporters -- know what a great return on investment we are for the American people.
Here is a partial list of how increasing our support has made a difference so far:
  • Last year 3,539 local leaders representing 178 million Americans participated in Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service.  It remains the largest coalition of local officials who have rallied around an issue ever in a single day!
  • Nearly four years ago, President Obama established the Task Force on Expanding National Service, which helped spark the development of public-private partnerships that thus far have created an additional 14,000 opportunities for individuals to serve in AmeriCorps and $195 million of investments from outside sources.
  • As part of the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps in 2014, we launched an initiative with the Peace Corps called Employers of National Service to invite corporations, nonprofits, and governments at all levels to promote their interest in hiring AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni.  This effort now counts 452 organizations and growing—including Comcast NBC Universal, CSX, Disney, Delta Airlines, United Way Worldwide, Accenture, the states of Montana and Virginia, and cities like New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, and Phoenix—that represent 2.3 million jobs. 
  • For the first time in our agency’s history, our local matching support and outside resources have exceeded our annual federal appropriation.  $1.26 billion has been invested from businesses, foundations, public agencies, and other sources.  This investment increases our impact in communities and demonstrates strong support at the local level for national service!   
While we all can celebrate this progress, we cannot rest on our achievements.  That is why I will continue to count on all of you to demonstrate impact, engage new champions, and share these success stories. 
Many of you in the field are welcoming new governors and legislators to statehouses, new mayors and county officials to city halls and county offices, or new members on your nonprofit’s board of directors.  I encourage you to build on the legacy of good work that you have accomplished by inviting them to visit your programs and learn about the impact YOU are having with the support of CNCS.  Education breeds awareness and support!
On personal note, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to President Obama for his nomination of me to lead CNCS, and to the U.S. Senate for their unanimous confirmation.  My deep appreciation also goes to countless leaders in Congress (too many to name) who listened, learned, and served with us in great bipartisan fashion which yielded true national support for our work. 
My gratitude extends to the discretionary team members who joined me in this journey.  I leave the agency in the hands of the most capable, passionate, and dedicated group of professionals I have ever known.  They are true public servants who care deeply about the future of our nation.  A special thanks to each of you!
I wish the new administration all the best and am confident that President-elect Trump will provide his own vision and ideas for national service, volunteerism, and social innovation.  America is at its best when people help people.  That is the greatness of our country, and that is the heart of our mission.  Thanks to your extraordinary commitment, we will continue this vital American tradition, and make a powerful and lasting impact in our nation for many years to come. 
It has been a daily honor and privilege to serve our nation in this amazing role. 
Warmest regards,
Wendy Spencer
Chief Executive Officer
Corporation for National and Community Service
P.S.  Take a look at our latest CNCS overview sharing more about the impact of our programs!
Wendy Spencer served as the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service from April 2012 to January 2017.  Her career spans 34 years in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors including leading Florida state agencies under Governors Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist, and Rick Scott.  She will begin a new post as President and CEO of Leadership Florida in the spring of 2017.



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