FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ranit Schmelzer, 202-538-1065, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dozens of Bipartisan Mayors from Across the U.S. Ask Congress to Expand National Service Programs to Help with COVID-19 Response and Recovery
Signers include CA’s “Big City Mayors” and more than 40 mayors from Seattle, Washington to Washington, DC
Washington, DC (May 12, 2020) – More than 50 mayors from across the country have called on Congress to provide federal funding for a comprehensive, locally focused, national service strategy to help communities respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In two letters – one from the mayors of California’s largest cities, and the other from more than 40 mayors representing urban and rural localities across the U.S. – they urge the U.S. House and Senate leadership to include The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act (H.R. 6702 and S. 3624) in the next COVID-19 relief package.
“As our own cities and the country as a whole, contemplate the future, we know that the challenges to recovery – for our grieving families, shuttered schools and churches, and halted economy – are manifold,” the mayors wrote. “And as you know, the road to normalcy will require more than economic stimulus, even historic levels of it. We should call on Americans across the country to step up and contribute through service.”
“As we face the triple threat of a health, economic, and educational crisis, we should lean into the robust and flexible national service infrastructure offered by AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to meet the acute needs mounting in our communities.”
The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act expands AmeriCorps to 750,000 AmeriCorps positions over three years, and establishes a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to manage a quick deployment of AmeriCorps members to crisis areas. It would ensure AmeriCorps can provide surge capacity to support public health needs; job counseling, training and placement programs to get Americans back to work; hunger prevention programs to deliver meals to senior citizens or staff community and church food banks; and education programs to help our students make up for lost time in the classrooms. Investing in national service organizations will enhance communities’ ability to address, respond, and recover from the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19. The bill is supported by more than one hundred organizations.
“The limited federal funding currently available has allowed AmeriCorps to deploy 75,000 national service members to help address core weaknesses in education, the economy and public health exposed by this pandemic,” said AnnMaura Connolly, President of Voices for National Service, which works to ensure Americans of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to serve and volunteer in their community. “But by leaning into the robust national service infrastructure that supports AmeriCorps through The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act, the country could deploy around a quarter of a million civilian national service members annually to help us respond to and recover from this pandemic.”
All across the country, AmeriCorps members are currently supporting public health responses at the direction of governors; assisting with intake at drive-thru COVID-19 testing centers to support the CDC; organizing blood drives; setting up temporary isolation sites; delivering emergency food and supplies to vulnerable populations; making support calls to elderly and medically fragile community members; and supporting students to mitigate the tremendous learning loss resulting from school closures. But the talents and energy of far more national service members need to be tapped in order to help our cities and the country respond to and recover from this pandemic.
The mayors’ letters are available here and here.
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.