New Camden AmeriCorps Program to Address Youth Workforce Development and Environmental Challenges

May 18, 2015

Three-year investment of $1.6 million will fund 180 new AmeriCorps positions
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today announced a new AmeriCorps program designed to prepare economically disadvantaged youth for 21st-century green jobs and enhance youth violence prevention strategies, while addressing the complex issues of water quality and storm water management in Camden, N.J. 
This project was announced in coordination with President’s Obama’s visit to Camden, drawing attention to a city that has taken innovative steps to create economic opportunity and reduce crime. The announcement also reinforces the agency’s commitment to investing in innovative community-focused programming.  
“AmeriCorps is an indispensable resource for building stronger neighborhoods and communities while ensuring our young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency which administers AmeriCorps. “I commend Mayor Redd and Governor Christie for uniting to create Camden PowerCorps and using AmeriCorps resources to tackle Camden’s unique challenges. They know what Governors and Mayors across the country know: that AmeriCorps works – it solves problems, strengthens communities, and expands opportunity for those who serve.”
“Camden has truly turned the corner and is poised for even more progress,” said Mayor Dana Redd.  “I'm delighted that Camden will receive an AmeriCorps grant to strengthen the work already in occurring in the City through Camden PowerCorps. Working in collaboration with all our partners is what will allow us to sustain this wonderful momentum in Camden.”
“I am pleased that Camden is receiving critically important funding that will help create opportunities for young people in and around Camden,” said Senator Booker. “Grants like these are an important part of our efforts to invest in the future of our nation’s youth by giving them the skills and training necessary to get good paying jobs, to create change in their communities, and to continue to build on the great progress Camden has made under Mayor Redd.”
The Camden PowerCorps AmeriCorps program will be a key component of Camden City's strategy to get youth back to work and back on a path to success. It will address the need for high-quality opportunities for at-risk opportunity youth ages 18 to 26 to develop the skills required to secure meaningful work and become civically engaged members of society. 
Partnering with Center for Family Service, Camden PowerCorps will annually enroll 60 individuals as AmeriCorps members. A strong emphasis on job and life skills training will help prepare AmeriCorps members for jobs in the field of green infrastructure.
AmeriCorps members will maintain parks, storm water inlets, rain gardens, and other green infrastructure projects throughout the city, and will leverage community volunteers to serve in  environmental projects, such as cleaning waterways, planting trees, and helping to maintain and beautify Camden City.
CNCS will invest more than $1.6 million over three years in connection with this grant. This includes $390,813 in grant funds annually for three years, contingent on appropriations and performance, for a total of $1.1 million.  CNCS will also make an estimated $515,000 in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards available to AmeriCorps members who complete the program. These awards can be used to pay for college, vocational training, or to repay student loans.  In addition to federal funds from CNCS, the program is projected to generate an additional $1.5 million in local matching resources, as required by all AmeriCorps grants.  
Camden PowerCorps was modeled after the highly successfully PowerCorps PHL in Philadelphia, another AmeriCorps Governor and Mayor Initiative. This effort provides new opportunities for state and local officials to use AmeriCorps members to address local challenges. Camden PowerCorps was developed by the Governor-appointed New Jersey Commission on National and Community Service, in collaboration with the city of Camden.  The NJ Commission will provide oversight and support to implement the project. 
Camden was also recently designated a Promise Zone, through which they will also receive five AmeriCorps VISTA members annually to help improve the quality of life for Camden children, youth, and families.  During the next three years, CNCS will invest more than $330,000 for AmeriCorps VISTAs supporting the Camden Promise Zone, including education awards.  
Camden PowerCorps builds on CNCS’s existing investment of $18.3 million in communities across New Jersey. These federal dollars leverage an additional $6.4 million in other resources. This funding supports more than 8,100 AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers to serve at 630 locations in the state. These citizens tutor and mentor children, support veterans and military families, provide health services, restore the environment, and more.
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