Latest Stimulus Bill Includes Some Essential Relief for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps
Nonprofit sector – fueled by national service members – in dire need of emergency measures
Washington, DC (March 26, 2020) – The COVID-19 pandemic is having an enormous impact on the charitable sector, as it is on the rest of the U.S. economy. Nonprofit organizations that rely on AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to provide relief to the communities they serve – including City Year, FoodCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Teach For America, United Way and countless others – have received some critically needed support in the latest economic stabilization and stimulus bill, passed by the Senate and House of Representatives this week. The bill is expected to be signed into law by the President on Friday.
“Like so many other sectors, the national service community is struggling during these unprecedented times,” said AnnMaura Connolly, President, Voices for National Service. “AmeriCorps and Senior Corps grantees are facing disruptions to their service activities, charitable contributions, and other revenue they rely on to serve the public. As many service locations close to stop the spread of COVID-19, programs are struggling to sustain their operations and support their employees and national service members. AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members are the backbones of many of these organizations and we commend Congress for addressing some of their immediate, short term needs.”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ensures AmeriCorps members can earn the Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards that they were due to receive before COVID-19 disrupted their service activities, allows AmeriCorps grantees receiving fixed amount awards to access their full federal funding, and more.
Congress has taken an important first step including these provisions in this bill. However, it must take further action to ensure that AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs can continue serving those hit the hardest by this crisis, including: provide $250 million in emergency funding to the Corporation for National and Community Service to stabilize grantees from closures throughout the country, allow AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs to fully utilize their federal grants, and exclude the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award from federal income tax.
Emergency relief recommendations for the programs operated and supported by Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) were developed by Voices for National Service and the national service community and endorsed by a bipartisan congressional coalition that is working to support national service during the pandemic. That coalition, led by Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Michael Waltz (R-FL), David Price (D-NC), Doris Matsui (D-CA), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy urging Congress to make certain forthcoming legislation in response to this pandemic helps national service programs and their members. The letter is available here.
“We understand that providing economic relief is an ongoing process. This was the case after the 2008 recession and it’s all the more needed now. Voices for National Service stands ready to work with Congress as the process continues so that our sector can help our communities and our nation respond to and recover from this crisis,” said Connolly.
Background on National Service
Every year, nearly 300,000 Americans serve in national service programs that provide critical services to fulfill unmet needs. National service members tutor and mentor students, help fight the opioid epidemic, provide job training and other services to returning veterans, preserve the nation’s parks and public lands, offer disaster relief and recovery assistance after natural disasters, and support independent living for seniors and Americans with disabilities.
Through AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, national service allows citizens of all ages and backgrounds to play a pivotal role in their communities by serving with thousands of nonprofit faith-based and community-based organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, City Year, and Teach For America. Since 1994, more than 1.1 million AmeriCorps members have served, giving more than 1.6 billion hours of service and earning more than $3.6 billion in education awards or scholarships, $1 billion of which has been used to pay back student debt.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which runs AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, is a public-private partnership that invests limited federal dollars to leverage substantial private investment to improve lives and communities through service. Every year, CNCS programs generate more than $1 billion in leveraged resources from businesses, foundations, and other sources, an amount exceeding the federal appropriation.
Forthcoming research has found that investing in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps is universally supported by voters and makes good economic sense. TargetPoint Consulting found that 4 in 5 voters across party lines support maintaining or increasing the federal investment in national service. ICF conducted a cost-benefit analysis and return on investment study and found that every $1 in federal taxes invested in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps returns $17.30 to society, program members, and the federal government.
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.