Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representative John Larson (D-CT) reintroduced the America’s Call to Improve Opportunities Now (ACTION) for National Service Act for the 118th Congress, along with 35 original cosponsors across the House and Senate. The ACTION for National Service Act sets a bold vision for expanding AmeriCorps to help under-resourced communities, while giving more young people experience, skills, increased benefits, and post-service education scholarships to help pay for college.
The bill seeks to accomplish the following:
- Elevate the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to a Cabinet-level department and rename the agency, the AmeriCorps Administration.
- Set a ten-year goal of expanding AmeriCorps and funding no fewer than one million service member positions per year.
- Change the value of the AmeriCorps Education Award ensuring that a member who serves two full terms is rewarded with an educational benefit equal to four years of average in-state tuition at a public institution of higher education.
- Increase access to national service opportunities by raising the AmeriCorps living allowance.
- Exempt the AmeriCorps living stipends and education awards from federal taxes.
- Establish an interagency partnership between AmeriCorps, Interior, Agriculture, Labor, and other relevant agencies to create a Civilian Climate Corps at AmeriCorps.
- Create a 21st Century American Service Outreach Program to notify eligible individuals between the ages of 17-30 about opportunities to serve.
- Establish an Interagency Working Group to recommend a process for awarding AmeriCorps education awards to individuals who have participated in national service programs not administered by AmeriCorps and to examine providing AmeriCorps alumni with federal hiring preference.
- Require the AmeriCorps agency to submit a report to Congress about how matching funds and share requirements need to be changed to achieve the bill’s ten-year goals.
The ACTION for National Service Act is supported by more than 40 endorsing organizations; the full list can be found here.