Resilience AmeriCorps Expands to New 18 U.S. Communities

May 6, 2016

New faith-based and New York-based partnerships will support and unify community resilience efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, today announced the expansion of its innovative Resilience AmeriCorps program to 18 communities through partnerships with Catholic Charities USA, Enterprise Community Partners, Lutheran Services in America, and the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.

The new locations are: Apopka, Fla.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Austin, Texas; Columbia, S.C.; Fargo, N.D.; Fort Worth, Texas; Ft. Thompson, S.D.; Guymon, Okla.; Houston, Texas; Immokalee, Fla., Kansas City, Mo.; New York City, N.Y.; Springfield, Mo.; Spokane, Wash.; St. Louis, Mo.; St. Paul, Minn.; Tampa, Fla.; and Vardaman, Miss.

Resilience AmeriCorps, a unique federal public-private partnership, helps communities plan and implement efforts necessary to become more resilient to shocks and stresses, including extreme weather and other impacts of climate change. The program was created in response to a recommendation by the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to enhance commitments to building resilience in vulnerable communities disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change.

Today’s announcement, which was made by Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan at the Climate Action Summit in Washington, D.C., builds on the work being done in the initial 10 Resilience AmeriCorps cities, which are implemented by Cities of Service.

“We congratulate the 18 new Resilience AmeriCorps communities from every corner of the country that have stepped forward with ideas of how national service can make their communities more resilient, especially those most vulnerable in the face of disasters,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “The Resilience AmeriCorps program, and the partnerships that sustain it, are another example of how we collaborate with philanthropy, nonprofits, local governments, and other federal agencies to address the nation’s most-pressing challenges.”

The new partnerships announced today are:

  • Catholic Charities USA: AmeriCorps VISTA members will help local emergency management become equipped to build communication systems in high natural disaster communities with limited English proficiency. They will assess cultural and language barriers to effective disaster preparedness, build partnerships, and create momentum for community engagement. Catholic Charities will place 11 AmeriCorps VISTA members across 10 communities that include Apopka, Fla.; Immokalee, Fla.; Vardaman, Miss.; Springfield, Mo.; Kansas City, Mo.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Guymon, Okla.; Houston, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; and Spokane, Wash.
  • Enterprise Community Partners: In New York City, three AmeriCorps VISTA members will develop and implement programs to support low-income residents and homeless families. These programs will create green, resilient, and sustainable housing; connect residents to healthcare and other vital resources; and provide pathways to improve access to affordable housing and services.
  • Lutheran Services in America: Through Lutheran Services in America member organizations, eight AmeriCorps VISTA members will improve low-income and community resilience in Tampa, Fla.; St. Paul, Minn.; St. Louis, Mo.; Fargo, North Dakota; Columbia, S.C.; Fort Thompson, S.D., and Austin, Texas. They will help communities better withstand and recover from disruptions such as home fires, economic crisis, extreme weather events, or man-made disasters. Depending on the varying needs of each community, AmeriCorps VISTA members will assess community resilience, engage local nonprofit and government agencies, recruit and manage volunteers focused on disaster services, and provide disaster preparedness and recovery training.
  • New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery: Through the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, two AmeriCorps VISTA members, who began their service in February, are supporting ongoing efforts in building and strengthening social resilience. They will develop outreach strategies for emergency evacuation with the College of Staten Island, as well as implement the NY Rising Community Centers pilot program, which will provide services for building community and infrastructure resilience in the face of severe storms.

“Faced with increasingly severe disasters, we must be mindful that community resiliency is rooted in addressing the individual resiliency of those most vulnerable in disasters,” said Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. “This initiative will provide needed collaboration between Catholic Charities agencies and local emergency management to tailor emergency preparedness to the needs of people with limited English proficiency.”

"The dramatic increase in severe weather events in recent years and its devastating impact on low-income communities and vulnerable populations has been a wakeup call to the realities of climate change and our lack of preparedness," said Laurel Blatchford, senior vice president of Solutions, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. “We need our cities to be better equipped and more resilient to face this crisis directly. The Resilience AmeriCorps Program shows the federal government's commitment to better prepare our cities by engaging young professionals to foster resilience in communities. The AmeriCorps VISTA members will help expand Enterprise’s capacity to do the crucial work of building resilience for low-income communities, and we are proud to be part of the second cohort of the Resilience AmeriCorps cities."

“Lutheran Services in America (LSA) is excited to be part of the AmeriCorps Resilience program,” said Charlotte Haberaecker, president and CEO of Lutheran Services in America. “By sponsoring eight AmeriCorps VISTA service members in low-income communities throughout the country, we are taking a proactive approach to resilience by placing a consistent presence with the most vulnerable people in those communities so they can be better prepared to rebuild and rebound from disruptions ranging from home fires to economic crises, extreme weather events, and human-caused disasters. This forward-looking and holistic approach builds upon the support provided by LSA organizations to improve the health, financial well-being, access to services, and well-being of 1 in 50 people across the country each year.”

“We and the Resilience AmeriCorps program have common goals. Building back with greater resiliency and partnering with local not-for-profit organizations are essential elements of our NY Rising Community Reconstruction program,” said Lisa Bova-Hiatt, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. “Our AmeriCorps VISTA members Sara Chin and Leigh Scudder are contributing to our success with their commitment, focus and enthusiasm.” 

AmeriCorps members are anticipated to be on-the-ground in the communities announced today by the fall of 2016. They will join the 21 currently-serving Resilience AmeriCorps members in Anchorage, Alaska; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago, Ill.; El Paso, Texas; Minot, N.D.; New Orleans, La.; Norfolk, Va.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Tulsa, Okla.

Resilience AmeriCorps builds on the President’s Climate Action Plan, and is a partnership between the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps program; the U.S. Department of Energy; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation.

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