PAST OPPORTUNITY: AmeriCorps Grants Will Support 46,000 New Members Across U.S.
As thousands of service leaders gathered at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service June 18, 2012, Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer announced $213 million in new AmeriCorps grants to strengthen the impact of more than 275 organizations across the country in tackling the most pressing challenges facing communities and the nation.
The grants will support more than 46,000 new AmeriCorps members who will serve from coast to coast, strengthening education, assisting veterans and military families, providing disaster services, fostering economic opportunity, preserving the environment, and expanding health services.
“AmeriCorps members are improving the lives of millions of citizens and making a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation,” said Spencer. “AmeriCorps members and the millions of volunteers they manage are an indispensable resource to nonprofit and government leaders at a time of social need and fiscal constraint.”
The grants carry out the vision of the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and the agency’s strategic plan by targeting resources on a core set of critical problems and using performance measures to evaluate success. A complete list of grants is available here.
The grants will go to a wide range of national and local nonprofits, faith-based groups, educational institutions, and Indian Tribes. After completing their service, AmeriCorps members supported by these grants are projected to use more than $124 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards to help pay for college or to pay back student loans.
The competitive grants announced today represent the first round of AmeriCorps grants for 2012. The Corporation for National and Community Service is also awarding $116 million in formula funds to Governor-appointed state service commissions and territories. Commissions will sub-grant these funds this summer to organizations in their states to support additional AmeriCorps members. Together with other positions in AmeriCorps VISTA and NCCC, AmeriCorps is projected to support approximately 82,000 members this year.
The current year’s AmeriCorps grant cycle was highly competitive, due to the strong demand by organizations seeking AmeriCorps resources. Organizations requested more than twice as much funding than was available, and only one in five applications for available funding was approved.
"The strong demand for AmeriCorps members is a testament to the value of this program and the powerful boost AmeriCorps members give to nonprofit and faith-based organizations,” said Spencer. "AmeriCorps members bring energy and talent to supercharge nonprofits so that they can significantly increase their reach and impact.”
Interest in AmeriCorps is also surging from those eager to serve. AmeriCorps received a record 582,000 AmeriCorps applications in 2011, a dramatic increase from the 360,000 received in 2009. “Americans want to make a difference, to have a purpose, to serve a cause larger than themselves," said Spencer.
Driving Community Impact
The 2012 competition prioritized funding for education, disaster services, and veterans and military families, and also funded programs advancing economic opportunity, environmental stewardship, and healthy futures. Below are some examples of the organizations receiving funds:
- Education: As the largest part of the AmeriCorps portfolio, the 2012 grants will invest more than $128 million to support 28,900 members serving in education. AmeriCorps members will teach, tutor, mentor, run afterschool programs, expand college access, and support other efforts to increase graduation rates and improve student academic performance. The grants provide vital support to national organizations such as City Year, Teach for America, Experience Corps, Citizen Schools, Campus Compact, and Admission Possible. Statewide programs including the Minnesota Reading Corps and America Reads Mississippi will be funded, as will local programs such as the Harlem Children’s Zone, the model for the Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhood Program.
- Veterans and Military Families: This year CNCS will make its largest investment ever in serving and engaging veterans and military families. More than $6.2 million in grants will support 916 members serving through the American Legion Auxiliary, AMVETS, the California Department of Veterans Affairs, CADCA, Rebuilding Together, and other groups. Points of Light will receive $992,000 for 75 members (about half veterans) to provide job readiness and community engagement support to help veterans reintegrate into civilian life. The Washington Vet Corps will engage 50 members (veterans and spouses) to assist veterans, active duty troops, and military families with transitioning from military service to higher education, training, employment, or entrepreneurship.
- Disaster Services: AmeriCorps will invest more than $4.7 million to support 400 AmeriCorps members dedicated to helping communities prepare for and respond to disasters. The American Red Cross will engage 122 AmeriCorps members to train and educate citizens in disaster preparedness and response. The St. Bernard Project will engage 130 AmeriCorps members in New Orleans and Joplin, Missouri, to coordinate volunteers and repair hundreds of homes of impacted families.
- Economic Opportunity: Through their $3.9 million grant, Habitat for Humanity will engage 300 AmeriCorps members across the country to recruit and supervise volunteers and build and rehabilitate homes. The Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky will engage 45 members to build, renovate, and weatherize low-income housing and help homeless individuals transition into housing.
- Environmental Stewardship. The Corps Network received a grant to engage 3,158 AmeriCorps members in urban and rural areas across the country in a variety of environmental improvement projects while gaining valuable skills and training to increase their employment prospects. The Southwest Conservation Corps will engage 240 members to construct public access trails, remove invasive species, and perform energy audits and install energy conserving measures in low-income households in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
- Healthy Futures:The Rural Alaska Community Action Program will engage 15 members to serve their own predominantly Alaska native communities by helping local wellness coalitions to plan, implement, and evaluate service projects which build youth resiliency and prevent substance abuse and suicide in youth ages 12 to 18. In Mississippi, Living Independence For Everyone will engage 20 members to provide life skills training and peer support to increase the ability for individuals with disabilities to live independently or transition home from institutions.
The grants will continue AmeriCorps support of entrepreneurial organizations that bring innovative business-based approaches to citizen problem solving. They will also continue AmeriCorps emphasis on expanding capacity by recruiting and managing other volunteers. Last year, AmeriCorps programs mobilized and managed 3.4 million volunteers for the organizations they serve with.
Most of the positions announced will be available starting in the fall. Interested individuals can learn about available opportunities and submit an online application by visiting AmeriCorps.gov.