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Archive for the ‘Corporation for National and Community Service’ Category

Summer of Service – Part I.

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on July 9, 2012

Shayla Price at the start of her summer of service

What does one think of when they think of a national service member?  The ideas are endless, which at once is both an advantage and challenge.  On the plus side, national service has been used to aid communities, states, and our nation in great times of need.  The downside is that there is not a singular definition or example that embodies the impact national service makes in our country every day.  To help demonstrate the impact service and service members have, ServiceNation’s ServceNext Initiative has launched ‘Stories of Service,’ a summer-long series that will capture first-person accounts from service members currently deployed across the country.

Our inaugural post in this series is from Shayla Price, an extraordinary woman who has devoted her life to service. She is serving for 8 weeks as an AmeriCorps VISTA member fighting poverty.

Summer of Service – Part I.

Guest post by Shayla R. Price

Service is an integral part of who I am. Through community service, I have had the opportunity to tutor kids, clean up parks, and raise money for great nonprofits.

As a commissioner for Volunteer Louisiana, a policy-making body for national service efforts in the state, I help distribute funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service to organizations and schools that make a substantial commitment to service. For the past three years on the board, I have heard countless positive, impactful stories from AmeriCorps members.

Those service experiences inspired me. That’s why I decided to join the front lines in the fight against poverty in America. Right now, I am officially an AmeriCorps VISTA! For a total of eight weeks, I will be serving at Harvesters, a food bank in Kansas City, Missouri.

Last week, my summer of service kicked off with great success. Alongside eight other VISTA members, I will be improving the lives of area residents by increasing their access to good, nutritious food.

Hunger is a real issue. In Harvesters’ 26-county direct service area, more than 375,000 people are food insecure.  Furthermore, 125,000 children lack access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. Learn about hunger facts in your area by visiting Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap.

During training, I learned that Harvesters has a network of more than 620 nonprofit agencies. Their network includes emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters. The food bank provides assistance to more than 66,000 different people each week.

Feeding More. Feeding Better. Through Harvesters’ Agency University, the food bank equips its agencies with the necessary resources to feed its clients. Organizations do not pay for the food products. One of my duties will be to monitor these agencies through site inspections. The main purpose of monitoring is to ensure every agency is in compliance with the rules.

In my first week, I had the opportunity to observe the monitoring of a Kids Café, a program that provides free meals and snacks to low-income children. I learned about the USDA’s food safety rules, child nutrition labels, and civil rights compliance.

In addition, I participated in SNAP (food stamps program) outreach at a mobile food pantry. During the site visit, my fellow service members and I handed out brochures explaining SNAP eligibility requirements and benefits. We also helped the community members bag green beans and nectarines for distribution to the long lines of parents, kids, and senior citizens.

I am looking forward to building systems and creating solutions to fight hunger. With a great team of diverse individuals, I am ready to teach kids about nutrition, distribute food to seniors, and conduct SNAP outreach.  I truly believe in Harvesters’ mission—feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow.

About Shayla

Shayla R. Price is an attorney and an advocate for ending childhood hunger. She has promoted community service as a governor-appointed commissioner for Volunteer Louisiana. Prior to government service, Price worked as a marketing director for ProgressiveU.org, a social welfare organization that sought to give high school and college students a voice.

While in high school, she earned more than $100,000 in college scholarships. She authored the book titled “The Scholarship Search: A Guide to Winning Free Money for College and More.” She has been featured in several publications, including “Better Homes & Gardens,” “Seventeen,” and “Black Enterprise.” Price was also named one of EBONY magazine’s 2009 Young Leaders and received the first-ever Emerging Greatness Award.

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Posted in AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, Millennial Generation, National Service, service, Stories Of Service, Volunteerism | 1 Comment »

Everyday Advocacy

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on May 24, 2012

Guest post by Amanda Lukas, a ServeNext District Captain.  Amanda is going into her senior year at University of Louisville in Kentucky. She is an alum of Bonner AmeriCorps program, which is a part time program for college students. 

Amanda Lukas with Michael Biagi of Senator McConnell’s office

When ServeNext asked me to lead two meetings with my Members of Congress as part of Save Service District Days, I was extremely nervous. My first question was would they even listen to me? As soon as it was discovered that I was a college student, with no real experience in these matters, I was afraid they wouldn’t listen. However, I agreed because I wanted to at least TRY.  So I set up meetings with Congressman Yarmuth and a staff member of Senator McConnell.

The first meeting with Congressman Yarmuth was very successful. He was already a supporter of keeping national service organizations in the budget. When I was doing my research, I began to realize that it wasn’t about convincing him to support us, but to encourage him to continue supporting us. He listened to me and the other two women at the meeting; he listened to our arguments and explained the dilemmas going on in Capitol Hill. He explained the arguments being used by the non-supporters.

There were a few important things that came from the meeting. One, the two women and I who had the meeting with Congressman Yarmuth gave the Congressman faces to associate with the issue; he now had personal testimony to bring back to Capitol Hill. Two, he gave us advice that could help kept national service organizations surviving. Three, he listened to what we had to say, which gave us all confidence that someone with more clout is paying attention to this issue. When we left the meeting, I think we made an impact. Again, it was with only one Congressman who already supported our argument, but it made enough of a difference, because it can take only one small action to make a huge change.

The next meeting I had with the staffer of Senator McConnell was something I walked into much more prepared and confident than I would have if I hadn’t met with Congressman Yarmuth first. I had to speak to the staffer by myself, with no other service supporters in the room. I had my arguments formed and my discussion points planned. It was something I was prepared for.

Again, I was listened to, and it seemed as if the staffer was impressed by how I could articulate my ideas and my arguments. The fact that I was a college student with seemingly little experience with this wasn’t a problem and didn’t hurt my credibility. My efforts made an impact. Maybe it wasn’t a large one, maybe it didn’t change any views, but these two representatives have a face and a name to put on this issue.

I just want to say very clearly what I learned from this- anyone can advocate. Not only that, though, but everyone already advocates every day.

Advocacy is defined as the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending.  Everyone advocates for something every day. Whether you are yelling at someone who cut the line, trying to talk your professor into giving you that extra point, or going to a rally to support a nominee, everyone advocates on some level every single day. It is part of our nature, isn’t it? If we believe in something, we advocate for it. We make sure the issue, whether it be a personal or political issue, is heard and given attention.

Every time you advocate for something, you make an impact, even if it only affects one person. I am going to keep on advocating for national service as a District Captain because every person counts.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, ServeNext, service | Leave a Comment »

A big THANK YOU to the Members of Congress who stepped up for national service

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on April 13, 2012

Heading into the budget battle for FY 13 Appropriations for National Service, we want to thank the members of Congress who stepped up and added their name to letters of support urging robust funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

We hear from many members of Congress that tell us they are supporters of national service but we want to especially thank the members listed below who are leading in Congress to expand opportunities for Americans to serve their country and ensure the promises made in the Serve America Act are kept.

The National Service Caucus received the signatures of 63 members of the House of Representatives and 25 Senators.

  • Click here to read the House National Service Caucus letter
  • Click here to read the Senate National Service Caucus letter


Senate Signatories

  • Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD)
  • Sen. Chris Coons (DE)
  • Sen. Max Baucus (MT)
  • Sen. Mark Begich (AK)
  • Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM)
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA)
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (MD)
  • Sen. Robert Casey (PA)
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (IL)
  • Sen. Al Franken (MN)
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
  • Sen. Tim Johnson (SD)
  • Sen. John Kerry (MA)
  • Sen. Mary Landrieu (LA)
  • Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ)
  • Sen. Pat Leahy (VT)
  • Sen. Jack Reed (RI)
  • Sen. Jay Rockefeller (WV)
  • Sen. Bernard Sanders (VT)
  • Sen. Charles Schumer (NY)
  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI)
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
  • Sen. John Tester (MT)
  • Sen. Tom Udall (NM)

House of Representative Signatories

  • Representative Todd Russell Platts (PA)
  • Representative David Price (NC)
  • Representative Doris Matsui (CA)
  • Representative Frederica Wilson (FL)
  • Representative Allyson Schwartz (PA)
  • Representative Henry Waxman (CA)
  • Representative Joe Courtney (CT)
  • Representative Gwen Moore (WI)
  • Representative William R. Keating (MA)
  • Representative Stephen Lynch (MA)
  • Representative Chellie Pingree (ME)
  • Representative Bruce Braley (IA)
  • Representative John Lewis (GA)
  • Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
  • Representative Chris Van Hollen (MD)
  • Representative Mazie K. Hirono (HI)
  • Representative John Sarbanes (MD)
  • Representative Shelley Berkley (NV)
  • Representative Leonard L. Boswell (IA)
  • Representative Rush D. Holt (NJ)
  • Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA)
  • Representative David Cicilline (RI)
  • Representative Charles B. Rangel (NY)
  • Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL)
  • Representative Danny K. Davis (IL)
  • Representative David Loebsack (IA)
  • Representative Henry C. Johnson (GA)
  • Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR)
  • Representative Emanuel Cleaver (MO)
  • Representative John F. Tierney (MA)
  • Representative Raul M. Grijalva (AZ)
  • Representative Michael Michaud (ME)
  • Representative Carolyn McCarthy (NY)
  • Representative Louise M. Slaughter (NY)
  • Representative Nich J. Rahall II (WV)
  • Representative Larry Kissell (NC)
  • Representative Russ Carnahan (MO)
  • Representative Lloyd Doggett (TX)
  • Representative Mike Ross (AR)
  • Representative Andre Carson (IN)
  • Representative John Yarmuth (KY)
  • Representative Jerrold Nadler (NY)
  • Representative George Miller (CA)
  • Representative Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI)
  • Representative Silvestre Reyes (TX)
  • Representative Lois Capps (CA)
  • Representative Edolphus Towns (NY)
  • Representative Gregory W. Meeks (NY)
  • Representative Lynn Woolsey (CA)
  • Representative Barbara Lee (CA)
  • Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY)
  • Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR)
  • Representative John Conyers, Jr. (MI)
  • Representative Bob Filner (CA)
  • Representative Michael F. Doyle (PA)
  • Representative Hansen Clarke (MI)
  • Representative Karen Bass (CA)
  • Representative Martin Heinrich (NM)
  • Representative Chaka Fattah (PA)

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, Serve America Act | Leave a Comment »

From AmeriCorps Member to National Service Advocate

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on March 22, 2012

Katherine Jones with Sen. Blumenthal

Katherine with Senator Blumenthal

This post was written by ServeNext Organizer Katherine Jones 

My experience as a ServeNext Organizer empowered me to realize that I have a voice and can make a difference. Before my involvement with ServeNext, I wanted to be an advocate for national service, but I didn’t know where to turn or how to start. I felt like I was one of many in the community and that my voice would not be effective in making change. But throughout this year I gained valuable skills and I know now that I can use my voice for any issue that interests me.

I joined ServeNext right after finishing my year of service with AmeriCorps. I knew I wanted to continue being involved in the national service community and to also explore my interest in advocacy. ServeNext gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my passions and further my career at the same time.Through my work as an Organizer, I gained the experience and national network of contacts to make myself a sought-after commodity. The skills needed to be an Organizer are in demand, and it’s no wonder considering how much I’ve been able to accomplish during my time at ServeNext.

The skills I gained through ServeNext are already starting to pay off. I am going back to graduate school and applied for a competitive internship this summer. I was hired for the position and told that I was chosen over other candidates because of my experience with ServeNext.

I am especially proud of the meetings I was able to set up with Congresswoman Rosa Delauro of Connecticut and Congressman Frank Guinta of New Hampshire. Both meetings were very gratifying, but the meeting with Congressman Gunita was most inspirational because we changed his opinionof the value for service in New Hampshire. We were able to put service on the Congressman’s agenda and hopefully it will make a difference in the future when he thinks about cutting funding to national service programs.

The Organizer program is incredibly valuable to communities because the position works to unite the community. In New Hampshire, there were a variety of service professionals that wanted to get involved in advocacy efforts, but, similar to my experience, were unsure of what to do.  As an Organizer, I was able to collaborate with service professionals and work with them on developing ideas and strategies for advocating in their state.

As my term ends with ServeNext, I know that my time spent in New Hampshire ignited a fire that was waiting to be lit in members of the local community where I served and I know that they will continue to make a difference after I have left.

I encourage others who have a passion for national service advocacy to apply to be a ServeNext Organizer. The deadline is April 6 and you can apply online at www.servenext.org/2012.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, Jobs/Internships, National Service, ServeNext, service, Stories Of Service | 4 Comments »

How National Service Actually Saves Our Country Money

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on February 8, 2012

On Monday we published a blog about challenging the idea that AmeriCorps members are volunteers. The post was sparked by legislation introduced by Representative Stutzman (IN-03), titled the “Volunteer Freedom Act.” The bill would eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which oversees AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund and provides human resource power for many national and local organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, food banks, etc. – you get the idea.

AmeriCorps members serving in Joplin, MO

AmeriCorps is a public-private partnership. When it awards grants to organizations to hire national service members, the organization has to match the grant with other non-federal funds.  As such, federal funds catalyze others to invest that might not have otherwise. As a result, the programs have more capacity to create jobs that meet community needs.

Without a federal investment, less private resources would flow into these programs and far less need would be met. This would mean more citizens struggling and that means more cost for the federal government (see below). Last year, AmeriCorps leveraged $486 million in non-CNCS funds from business, foundations, and other sources. CNCS allows organizations to leverage what funds they do have, investing that money into the economy. It is a situation where 1 + 1 = 3.

It is also important to look at how CNCS funds are spent – on jobs dedicated to helping our countries neediest. Take what AmeriCorps members did in Joplin, Missouri. Just hours after a tornado hit, AmeriCorps members from 20 organizations and seven states arrived to help the city rebuild. The tornado killed 161 residents and destroyed more than 7,000 homes, churches, schools, and businesses. The AmeriCorps members mobilized and managed over 60,000 volunteers, who provided over 579,000 hours of service. This equals more than $17.7 million donated resources.

Now we are not trying to argue that without AmeriCorps people wouldn’t volunteer to help with disaster response.  They would.  But the federal investment in full-time service members enables a massive leverage effect of those traditional, unpaid volunteers. AmeriCorps members maximize the efficiency and impact of those volunteers by ensuring work projects are ready to go and volunteers are never turned away, all which works to speed up the recovery time.  The longer it takes to rebuild, the longer it takes before people are back to work, before businesses reopen, etc, which is bad for the local and national economy. The federal investment catalyzes the recovery process. Last year AmeriCorps members recruited, trained, and supervised more than 3.4 million community volunteers.

In addition to responding to natural disasters, national service members provide preventative services. In homes across the country, Senior Corps members are helping elderly Americans to live independently. When a person becomes unable to stay in ones home, one goes into a nursing facility paid for by Medicare. This is an expensive and demoralizing experience for the individual. Senior Corps members allow people to stay in their home by bringing them food, coordinating their doctor’s visits, and being a companion. The government saves hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by investing in Senior Corps rather than paying for Medicare expenses.

AmeriCorps and Senior Corps are not a waste of government funds; rather they are smart financial decision that invests in people and local communities to solve our most pressing social problems. Most politicians get this, because someone (or many people) took the time to educate them.

While we understand the need to fix our nation’s finances, cutting national service will only make things worse. As with financial investing and business, you have to spend money to make money. You may not think this is the role of the government, but cutting national service will cost the government more in the end.

A lot of people have been posting on Congressman Stutzman’s Facebook and Twitter account sharing their experience of how national service programs are a financial asset to their community. I encourage you to do the same. We at ServeNext would also love to hear your stories so we can share them with others. Leave them in the comment section below or on our Facebook wall.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, National Service, Volunteerism | Leave a Comment »

AmeriCorps MEMBERS are not VOLUNTEERS

Posted by Morgan St. Jean on February 6, 2012

I love to volunteer and have been doing it since I was a kid. But what I did after college as an AmeriCorps VISTA was not volunteering, it was a full time service commitment. Many of you may think I am drawing a false dichotomy. Other might be asking wait, doesn’t VISTA stand for Volunteers in Service to America? Technically, yes that is what VISTA stands for, but the name is misleading. We at ServeNext want to challenge the way the national service experience is described.

Morgan with a fellow VISTA member and two student volunteers at a MLK Jr., Day of Service they organized.

In these tough economic times there is a lot of talk about the need to cut government spending. Lawmakers are looking for easy cuts that make nice sound bites.  Case in point, Congressman Marlin Stutzman (IN-03) recently introduced the “Volunteer Freedom Act.” The bill would eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which oversees AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund.

Why does Congressman Stutzman want to eliminate CNCS and national service programs? In his press release he says volunteers shouldn’t be paid. If you didn’t know anything about national service programs, saving $10 billion dollars in tax payer money by not paying people to volunteer sounds like a smart decision.

Of course, we know the huge impact these programs have on communities. So how can we convince Congressman Stutzman and others to support CNCS? Well, first we have to stop making it so easy to depict us as expendable.

We can do this by attacking two major assumptions: that we are just volunteers and that national service is just another inflated government program. This blog post focuses on the volunteer assumption, but look for a follow up blog on how national service actually saves money.

When a lot of people first hear about CNCS they make a false assumption that it’s just paying people to volunteer. This naturally leads to the question, why pay people to volunteer? If they really cared wouldn’t they just do it for free?

When I first heard this, my first instinct was to yell, “Yeah I was volunteering, but I worked really long hours and got paid way below minimum wage.” But then I realized that this just plays into their hand because it: a.) focuses the conversation on how much we get paid and b.) reinforces the idea that we are volunteers.

We need to make the conversation about how we are members, not volunteers. Serving in a full time AmeriCorps program is a big commitment. A lot of people are not comfortable calling it a job (I think it would really help our case if we did, but that’s a whole other discussion), but we need to communicate that it is more than a regular volunteer commitment.

Most volunteering is part time, a few hours a week or for some a few hours a year. Volunteers perform important work in their communities. But who organizes the volunteer opportunities, recruits volunteers, and train people to maximize their volunteer impact? Service members do!

There are many part  time national service programs, such as Senior Corps or Students in Service. But these programs ask a higher commitment  level than most volunteer opportunities. Organizations and communities benifit when people make a long term commitment and the service members take a lot from the experience.

As service members, individuals serving through CNCS perform both direct and indirect service and build the capacity of the organizations they serve with. By committing to the length of their term, national service members can engage in in-depth projects that really build the capacity of an organization and have lasting impact.

These are my thoughts.  What do you say when someone calls corps members volunteers? How do you describe your experience? We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how to respond to politicians assumptions about CNCS. You can either comment below or post on our facebook wall.

Also, if you want to share your story with Congressman Marlin Stutzman he has both facebook and twitter.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service, National Service, Volunteerism | Leave a Comment »

Member of Congress Promotes AmeriCorps AND Wants to Eliminate It

Posted by Zach Maurin on February 3, 2012

ServiceNation, the organization that ServeNext recently merged with, put out a statement today about this.  Hat tip to AmeriCorps Alums for noticing the contradiction.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 3, 2012

CONTACT:

Christopher Cashman, 212-804-6370

ccashman@servicenation.org

STATEMENT ON CONGRESSMAN MARLIN STUTZMAN BILL TO DEFUND NATIONAL SERVICE PROGRAM TOUTED ON HIS OWN WEBSITE

Stutzman Highlights Benefits of AmeriCorps Program While Simultaneously Working to Eliminate its Funding

Zach Maurin with ServiceNation, a national, bipartisan campaign dedicated to increasing opportunities for Americans to serve their country and elevating service as a core problem-solving strategy, released the following statement calling on Congressman Marlin Stutzman to clarify his stance on the benefits of national service:

“Congressman Marlin Stutzman recently introduced legislation eliminating the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the organization that funds national service programs such as AmeriCorps.  His proposed legislation would result in the complete end of AmeriCorps, causing 80,000 young adults to be without jobs, nearly 1 million seniors living independently to require state-assistance, and more than 3 million at-risk children to lose vital educational support.

“What is most striking though is that Congressman Stutzman himself has touted the many benefits that programs like AmeriCorps have brought to Indiana communities.  On the Congressman’s official website, he advocates AmeriCorps and the AmeriCorps Education Award as a way for people interested in public service to get help paying for college – programs that he now advocates defunding.  Additionally, more than 870 of

Screenshot of Rep. Stutzman's website

the Congressman’s constituents serve as Senior Corps members with great local organizations like Catholic Charities of Fort Wayne-South Bend, providing critical services such as helping seniors remain living independently, saving taxpayers the expense of costly nursing homes.

“While we are glad that Congressman Stutzman appears to recognize the vital role that national service programs play in America, we are confused as to why he would now advocate for eliminating its funding completely.  Congressman Stutzman needs to look no further than his own website to see the vital economic and community health benefits that would be lost without funding for national service.  We hope he withdraws his bill and look forward to working with him to fully understand the value national service plays in American society.”
Facts About National Service:

  • AmeriCorps received 530,000 applicants for 80,000 positions last year.
  • Every federal dollar invested in national service yields $2.01 worth of essential services.
  • The 2006 estimated market value of the services CNCS grantees provide topped $2 billion annually.
  • Without federal support for national service organizations:
    • 3 million children would be denied vital educational support
    • 620,000 seniors wouldn’t receive life sustaining, in-home services
    • Thousands of veterans would be denied meaningful work opportunities and Veterans Association-supported services.
    • More than 745,000 medically underserved children and adults will not receive health outreach, education and immunizations from Community HealthCorps members,
    • More than 1.5 million students will no longer be engaged in active learning and civic engagement opportunities,
    • Thousands of healthy meals will not be delivered to the elderly every day.

###


ServiceNation is a national campaign to increase service opportunities and elevate service as a core ideal and problem solving strategy in America.  Reaching an estimated 100 million citizen through its 285 coalition members, ServiceNation played a leading role in drafting and enacting the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which authorized the greatest expansion of national service in a generation.  The ServiceNation coalition is working to inspire a powerful culture of volunteerism in our country and envisions an America in which a commonly asked questions is ‘Where do you serve?’  For more information, visit
www.servicenation.org.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service | 4 Comments »

Details for AmeriCorps Funding in 2012 Budget Deal

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on December 15, 2011

It looks like Congress has finally agreed on a FY 2012 budget for the country.   The agreement includes $1.05 billion for the CNCS (which includes AmeriCorps), roughly $25 million or 2.3% below current levels. While the deal has not yet been voted on, and will still need to be signed by the President once it is, we expect that to happen tomorrow.

Below is the breakdown of the numbers:

  • VISTA was cut $3.9 million to $95 million.
  • AmeriCorps State & National was cut $4 million to $345 million.
  • Senior Corps remains at $207.9 million
  • NCCC was increased $3 million to $31.9 million to relocate the Maryland campus as proposed by the Senate.
  • The Volunteer Generation Fund remains at $3.99 million.
  • The Social Innovation Fund was cut by $5 million to $44.9 million.
  • State Commissions were cut by $3.5 million to $13.5 million.
  • The National Service Trust was increased to $212 million.

Winning $1.05 billion for CNCS in FY12 is a testament to all the district office visits, phone calls, op-eds, emails, rallies, and other hard work done by service supporters across the country and to the leadership of our champions in Congress and the White House who fought hard against the attempts to eliminate AmeriCorps.  This shows the incredible impact and critical importance of service supporters mobilizing year-round to tell their members of Congress to support service.  Great job from our ServeNext Organizers and Network Members, Save Service Partners, and everyone else who took action throughout the year!

Despite our success in preventing elimination, it is critical that we are mindful that funding for service is still going in the wrong direction and we all have much more work to do to get it back on track.  There are still too many members of Congress who simply don’t get how AmeriCorps and other national service programs work and how it is a critical and cost effective strategy for addressing many of our nation’s most pressing challenges, especially in a tough economy.

ServeNext will work to keep you updated with any further developments.  If you are on Facebook, I strongly encourage you to like the ServeNext Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter to get the latest updates and other important national service news.


Below is a recap of how we got to this point.

  • On February 14th, 2011, President Obama kicked it off by submitting his budget to Congress.  For the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), he requested $1.3 billion which among other things would grow AmeriCorps to 90,000 members.
  • On September 20th, 2011, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Service, Education, and Related Agencies (Otherwise known as Labor-H) released its budget proposal for FY12 and included $1.093 billion for CNCS.  The Senate budget would essentially keep the funding levels for CNCS in FY12 level with those it received in FY11 with the exception of increasing $14 million for the National Service Trust and increasing $3 million for NCCC.
  • On September 29th, 2011, the House Appropriations Labor-H Subcommittee released its budget proposal for FY12 and included $280 million for CNCS.  Yes that is million with an M.  The House budget proposal only funds the National Senior Volunteer Programs with a little left over for the “orderly elimination” of everything else.  In other words, the House budget ELIMINATES AmeriCorps and CNCS.
  • On December 7th, 2011, a joint House-Senate Conference Committee was announced to negotiate a final budget deal and reconcile the differences between the House and Senate proposals.

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service | 3 Comments »

President Obama to nominate new CEO for CNCS

Posted by Zach Maurin on October 17, 2011

ServeNext fully supports this nomination as well!  Here are some statements of support:

AnnMaura Connolly, President, Voices for National Service and Campaign Director, Save Service in America, released the following statement on Monday, October 17, 2011

 

“Voices for National Service and Save Service in America applaud President Obama’s decision to nominate Wendy Spencer as the Chief Executive Officer for the Corporation for National and Community Service.  For nearly 30 years, Ms. Spencer has been a leader in the nonprofit and voluntary sector.  She has a vast and impressive background that includes executive positions at the local, state and national levels.  Ms. Spencer served on President George W. Bush’s Council on Service and Civic Participation and was appointed by three governors to lead Volunteer Florida, the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service since 2003.  Volunteer Florida is the official statewide coordinating agency for volunteers and donations in times of disasters. During Florida’s record-breaking 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, Volunteer Florida coordinated more than 252,000 volunteers, as well as donated items totaling more than $85 million in value, which was the largest mobilization of volunteers in the history of U.S. natural disasters at that time.  Ms. Spencer has worked across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to mobilize citizens to address problems facing their communities, and she is uniquely qualified to lead the Corporation for National and Community Service. 

At a time of economic crisis, when national service organizations are being heavily relied upon to provide vital services to communities throughout the country, growing numbers of citizens are looking for opportunities to serve their country, and lawmakers continue to threaten to cut the funding for this vital support for organizations that are serving families and communities in need, it is essential for the sector to have strong and effective leadership at CNCS.  National service offers those who serve the opportunity to build skills and create pathways to work while delivering results for families and communities across the country that are struggling to make ends meet.  We look forward to working with Ms. Spencer and the Administration to mobilize citizens and communities to help get our country back on track.”

From the Corporation for National and Community Service:

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to let you know that President Obama has announced his intent to nominate Wendy Spencer to serve as the next CEO of the Corporation.

Wendy Spencer is the Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, an organization that administers AmeriCorps grants throughout the state and is responsible for coordinating volunteers and donation management in times of disaster. Ms. Spencer  was appointed to the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation in 2006, and awarded the President’s Call to Service Award in 2005 due to her dedication to finding innovative solutions to Florida’s community challenges. 

She previously served as Director of the Florida Park Service, where she oversaw natural resource management for Florida’s 158 state parks.  Prior to her work with the Florida Park Service, Ms. Spencer was Campaign Director of the United Way of the Big Bend.  Ms. Spencer has also worked as Director of Marketing for the Macon County, Georgia, Chamber of Commerce and as a District Representative for Congressman Charles Hatcher of Georgia.  She is also the current Chair of the American Association of State Service Commissions. Ms. Spencer holds a B.A. in Fine Arts and Speech Communications from Valdosta State University.

For the time being, Robert will remain in place as Acting CEO.    The White House press release is included.

Sincerely,

Mark Gearan                                                                     Robert Velasco, II

Chairman of the Board                                                 Acting CEO, CNCS

From the White House:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 17, 2011

 

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

 

·         Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley – Ambassador to the Republic of Malta, Department of State

·         Julissa Reynoso – Ambassador to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, Department of State

·         Wendy Spencer – Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for National and Community Service

·         Robert E. Whitehead – Ambassador to the Togolese Republic, Department of State

 

The President also announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:

 

·         Robert L. Blazs – United States Commissioner, Canadian River Commission

·         Jayne D. Greenberg – Member, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition

President Obama said, “These dedicated individuals bring a wealth of experience and talent to their new roles and I am proud to have them serve in this Administration.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.

 

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Malta, Department of State

Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Deputy Coordinator for Policy, Programs, and Budget in the Office of the Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism. Prior to this role, she was Director of the Office of Egypt and the Levant in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.  Her previous positions include: Chairwoman for Middle East Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute, Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Senior Advisor for Middle Eastern Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Director for Near East South Asian Affairs, and Director for Legislative Affairs at the National Security Council.  Her earlier posts include: Political Officer at the Embassy in Tel Aviv with responsibility for the Gaza Strip, Consul in Baghdad, and postings in Jakarta and Cairo.  She joined the Foreign Service in 1985 after serving as a Presidential Management Fellow at the United States Information Agency.  Ms. Abercrombie-Winstanley received a B.A. from George Washington University and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University. 

 

Julissa Reynoso, Nominee for Ambassador to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, Department of State

Julissa Reynoso is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central America and the Caribbean in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.   Prior to her appointment in November 2009, Ms. Reynoso practiced law with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York, focusing on international arbitration and antitrust law.  During this time, she also served as a Fellow at New York University School of Law and Columbia Law School.  In 2006, Ms. Reynoso worked as Deputy Director of the Office of Accountability at the New York City Department of Education.  Ms. Reynoso holds a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

 

Wendy Spencer, Nominee for Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for National and Community Service

Wendy Spencer is the Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, an organization that administers AmeriCorps grants throughout the state and is responsible for coordinating volunteers and donation management in times of disaster. Ms. Spencer  was appointed to the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation in 2006, and awarded the President’s Call to Service Award in 2005 due to her dedication to finding innovative solutions to Florida’s community challenges.  She previously served as Director of the Florida Park Service, where she oversaw natural resource management for Florida’s 158 state parks.  Prior to her work with the Florida Park Service, Ms. Spencer was Campaign Director of the United Way of the Big Bend.  Ms. Spencer has also worked as Director of Marketing for the Macon County, Georgia, Chamber of Commerce and as a District Representative for Congressman Charles Hatcher of Georgia.  She is the current Chair of the American Association of State Service Commissions. Ms. Spencer holds a B.A. in Fine Arts and Speech Communications from Valdosta State University.

 

Robert E. Whitehead, Nominee for Ambassador to the Togolese Republic, Department of State

Robert E. Whitehead, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has served at the Department of State for 27 years.  From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Whitehead served as the Chargé d’Affaires in Khartoum, Sudan.  Other overseas assignments have included Deputy Chief of Mission in the Central African Republic, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Additionally, Whitehead served briefly as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim in Rwanda in 1994 and as the first consul general in Juba, Southern Sudan in 2006.   His assignments in Washington have included Director of the Office of African Analysis in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Senior Inspector in the Office of the Inspector General, and Desk Officer in the Office of West African Affairs.  Before entering the Foreign Service, he was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Zaire.  Mr. Whitehead received a B.A. from Taylor University and an M.A. from Southern Illinois University.


Posted in Advocacy and Policy, Corporation for National and Community Service | Leave a Comment »

Jack Lew, OMB Director, at Jumpstart Event

Posted by Zach Maurin on October 6, 2011

I just got back from Jumpstart’s very exciting national initiative, Read for the Record, where people are reading to children all over the country.  Why is this important?

“Millions of children in low-income neighborhoods are at risk of school failure before they even start kindergarten.  Jumpstart’s Read for the Record®, presented in partnership with the Pearson Foundation, allows Americans to demand that all children receive the quality early education they deserve.”

It was fantastic that Jack Lew, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, stopped by to read to a child and show his support for Jumpstart and all of AmeriCorps.  Mr. Lew and OMB are critical decision-makers in the future of funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Read more about the national event and the effort to set a world record.

Congrats to the Jumpstart team for a great event in DC and a successful national campaign!

Posted in Advocacy and Policy, AmeriCorps, Corporation for National and Community Service | 1 Comment »

 
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