Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) have reintroduced the Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through Service Act or CORPS Act along with 15 other original cosponsors – Senators Blunt (R-MO),Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME), Cornyn (R-TX), Graham (R-SC), Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Rubio (R-FL), Baldwin (D-WI), Booker (D-NJ), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Kelly (D-AZ), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN) and Reed (D-RI). The CORPS Act calls for strengthening and expanding AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors to help our nation recover from COVID-19.
Over a three-year recovery period, the CORPS Act would invest in the core national service programs, increase AmeriCorps member living allowances and education awards to make service more accessible and inclusive, and prioritize expanding programs to support communities that are underserved and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Press Release from Voices for National Service
The CORPS Act highlights include:
- Defines the COVID recovery period through the end of FY24, September 30, 2024.
- Ensures that individuals’ financial resources do not limit participation by temporarily increasing the AmeriCorps living allowance to 175 percent of the federal poverty line for a single individual.
- Requires that the Corporation for National and Community Service award supplemental grants to existing grantees to fund the increased living allowance and member benefits.
- Provides AmeriCorps members serving during the COVID recovery period with a concurrent (or second) education award.
- Allows for expansion grants and grant augmentations to meet the compelling needs of grantees.
- Establishes a pilot program allowing State Commissions to directly place AmeriCorps members in state national service programs.
- Prioritizes funding activities and directly placing AmeriCorps members with diverse entities that are:
- Serving communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19;
- Using culturally competent and multilingual strategies to provide services; and
- Recruiting members to serve in the communities that they are from.
- Provides critical flexibilities to stabilize national service programs during the economic crisis and to allow them to grow and respond to dynamic local recovery needs.
- Waives program matching requirements for the duration of the COVID recovery period.
- Expands eligibility requirements for AmeriCorps Seniors.
- Increases operating support for education award-only programs to $1,600 per member with a waiver up to $2,000.
- Exempts the living stipend and the education award from federal income tax permanently.
- Authorizes $8 billion in funding to be spent through FY24 to strengthen and expand the national service programs to help the country recover from the COVID–19 public health emergency and the associated economic crisis.