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Build Back Better Act Provides Major Investment in National Service
Creates Civilian Climate Corps; Boosts Number of AmeriCorps Members; Supports Increased Diversity
Washington, DC (November 19, 2021) – Following is a statement from AnnMaura Connolly, President of Voices for National Service, on the historic and transformational investment in AmeriCorps as part of the Build Back Better Act. The bill, passed today by the House of Representatives, includes $15.2 billion for the federal AmeriCorps Agency to spend over this decade.
“The Build Back Better Act includes the largest single investment in AmeriCorps ever,” said AnnMaura Connolly, President of Voices for National Service, which has led the effort to ensure Americans of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to serve and volunteer in their community since 2003.
“This historic investment in national service leverages the nearly 30-year-old AmeriCorps program which engages 75,000 diverse Americans in service in every state across the country, and builds on three decades of deep experience running effective national service programs. The transformational investment will build on and scale up the existing infrastructure and expand the AmeriCorps mission to address longstanding needs in conservation, disaster response and climate resiliency. It’s a recognition of the tremendous impact AmeriCorps members have made on the front lines serving our communities and tackling our toughest challenges, and of the need for many more Americans in service, particularly as we work to recover from the pandemic.
“Build Back Better also provides the essential investment needed to support AmeriCorps members who are serving on the front lines in unprecedented numbers, and increases member benefits for every AmeriCorps member serving across the country, ensuring that Americans from every background can serve their communities.
“We are grateful to the bipartisan members of Congress, foremost Senator Coons and Representatives Price and Matsui, who have led the call for the expansion of AmeriCorps as the nation continues to rebuild from the pandemic and to the Biden Administration for recognizing the role AmeriCorps can play in making our country more climate ready and resilient.
“We urge Congress to get the Build Back Better Act over the finish line. Americans are waiting to serve.”
Specifically, the Build Back Better Act includes $30 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps with over half of those resources invested in the AmeriCorps Agency:
- Includes $15.2 billion for the AmeriCorps agency to be spent from fiscal year 2022 to 2029.
- Establishes a flagship Civilian Climate Corps program with up to 300,000 new AmeriCorps positions to help with wildfire remediation, disaster response and preparedness, environmental conservation, a transition to green energy infrastructure and more.
- To ensure this modern-day CCC will be more inclusive, diverse, and accessible to all, the agency must award funding to entities that serve, and have representation from, low-income communities or communities experiencing adverse health and environmental conditions.
- Provides funding for outreach and member recruitment from communities underrepresented in national service and from communities experiencing a significant dislocation of workers
- Increases the post-service educational benefits for all AmeriCorps members and raises the minimum AmeriCorps living allowances to 200% of the poverty line, to assist in making national service a more equitable opportunity for all Americans.
The economic value of this work is enormous. According to a 2020 study, every $1 in federal money invested in national service programs returns $17.30 to society, program members, and the federal government. That means a $15 billion investment in national service would yield more than $259 billion in benefits in higher earnings, higher tax revenues, and lower strain on the social safety net.
Furthermore, AmeriCorps is a proven pathway that helps young people prepare for future jobs, particularly for populations hardest hit by the pandemic. Members gain valuable career skills and experience, from career training to occupational skills to network building. According to a survey of AmeriCorps alumni, eight out of ten say AmeriCorps advanced and benefited their career path.
Voices for National Service is a diverse coalition of national service programs, state service commissions and individual champions, who work to ensure Americans of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to serve and volunteer in their community. Founded in 2003, Voices for National Service has built strong bipartisan support among our nation’s leaders and helped to elevate national service as a powerful strategy for tackling unmet needs, preparing young people for work, uniting our country and developing civic character.