Across the country, mayors are using national service to engage their citizens in helping to solve their community’s toughest challenges. Documenting this mayoral support is critical, as Congress looks to local leaders to help them understand how federal funds are being utilized on the ground and which investments are having the biggest impact back in their state or district. Over the past few months, mayors and local leaders have expressed an overwhelming level of support for the programs of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), including AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.
On Tuesday, April 3, mayors, county officials and tribal leaders across the country celebrated the sixth-annual National Service Recognition Day by thanking the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members who work tirelessly to serve the needs of their communities. Throughout the nation, 5,200 local leaders held public events, participated in community service projects, and communicated through social media to express their appreciation for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members. Together, these elected officials represent 216 million Americans, or two-thirds of the U.S. population.
“National service programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps help ensure that critical local projects meet the needs of community members. For example, in Little Rock, AmeriCorps members are vital and provide valuable assistance in improving the lives of our citizens. They mentor and teach in our schools and are helping to rebuild our neighborhoods.” – National League of Cities President Mark Stodola, Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas
More recently, in response to the White House FY19 budget proposal to eliminate CNCS, mayors have taken charge, raising their voices to tell Congress why CNCS is a critical resource for their communities.
The programs administered by CNCS are exactly what the nation requires to ensure citizens’ needs are met in a cost-effective, efficient way. We urge you, and every member of Congress who believes in the ability of our citizens to create lasting change for our nation, to invest in CNCS, and ensure that national service continues to provide vital support to communities across the country.
Mayors have seen first-hand how national service members are influential agents for creating safer and stronger communities. In cities across the country, AmeriCorps members are providing educational, social and emotional support to students, reviving low income neighborhoods, assisting the elderly and intellectually or developmentally disabled, caring for the environment, rebuilding neighborhoods after natural disasters, and providing for the basic everyday needs of those living in poverty.
We’re grateful to Cities of Service’s efforts to bolster support for national service among their network of mayors, and for their creative work to help cities utilize AmeriCorps through their Love Your Block, Prepared Together, and Resilience AmeriCorps programs. Through each program, AmeriCorps VISTA members are embedded in city halls where they build capacity, raise awareness, and help the cities and residents work together to improve communities in need.
The Voices State Chapter network is also working to document the strong local support for national service. The Missouri National Service Coalition, a state chapter of Voices for National Service, organized a letter from 17 Missouri mayors to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), urging the senator to protect funding for national service programs. Senator Blunt serves as the Chairman of the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for CNCS. This week, Blunt’s committee will be marking up legislation that will set funding levels for fiscal year 2019. The committee will have to make tough decisions about how to allocate federal funds across government, and these Missouri mayors have made a strong case that national service should be a fiscal priority.
Every day, mayors are on the front lines, responding to pressing local issues. The proposed elimination of CNCS funding is a local issue for many communities throughout the United States, as millions of Americans depend on the support AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members provide. We hope that during this appropriations process, Congress hears the call of these mayors who rely on these cost-effective services their constituents rely on.