Every March for the past 16 years, communities, nonprofit organizations, and our elected leaders have come together during AmeriCorps Week to recognize the extraordinary commitment of those who serve our country through AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors.
Annually, nearly 200,000 members of AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors are deployed on the front lines of our communities, responding to the country’s most immediate and critical needs, and supporting local nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations. They join more than 1.25 million alumni whose commitment to service has inspired new generations of civic leaders.
From responding to natural disasters to providing services for veterans, AmeriCorps grants and service members power organizations like the American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Habitat for Humanity. Through this public-private partnership, every $1 Congress invests in AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors returns more than $17 in benefits to our country.
To help kick off AmeriCorps Week, President Biden sent Congress his fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget request which includes $1.479 billion for AmeriCorps, an increase of $166 million over last year. This amount would increase funding for many of the AmeriCorps programs, raise the AmeriCorps member living allowances to $13 per hour, on the path to $15 per hour by FY25, and provide funding to begin to establish a Civilian Climate Corps. This proposed budget shows that the Biden-Harris Administration recognizes national service is a key investment to respond to the most critical issues facing local communities. To learn more, read our statement on the President Biden’s budget.
Over on Capitol Hill, the National Service Congressional Caucus celebrated AmeriCorps Week by announcing that their bipartisan leadership was expanding. Representative Garret Graves (R-LA) has stepped up to co-chair the House Service Caucus with Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA). And in the Senate, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) have agreed to serve as caucus vice chairs, working alongside co-chairs Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA). These leaders of the National Service Caucus understand the game-changing role AmeriCorps plays, stemming from their own service experiences. They see AmeriCorps as a common sense, nonpartisan solution that should be expanded and strengthened.
Representative John Larson (D-CT) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), along with 35 cosponsors across the House and the Senate, also introduced the ACTION for National Service Act during AmeriCorps Week. The ACTION for National Service Act would expand AmeriCorps to help under-resourced communities, while giving young people experience, skills, increased benefits, and post-service education scholarships to help pay for college. Among other things, the bill sets a ten-year goal of expanding AmeriCorps and increasing funding to support one million service member positions per year, changes the value of the AmeriCorps Education Award ensuring that a member who serves two full terms is rewarded with an educational benefit equal to four years of in-state tuition at a public institution of higher education, and increases access to national service opportunities by raising the AmeriCorps living allowance.
Throughout this week, Republican and Democrat lawmakers have stepped up to support AmeriCorps and we would like to thank them for taking a stand for service. If you are active on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, check out these social media toolkits on the FY24 budget, the ACTION for National Service Act, and the National Service Congressional Caucus that Voices for National Service has created. These include draft social content and graphics that you can use to post from your personal or organizational accounts and thank your congressional leaders.
We also encourage you to send an email to all the members of your congressional delegation urging them to join the National Service Congressional Caucus and to support AmeriCorps funding and policy this year. To make this easy, visit our Contact Congress page. Your efforts will definitely count – and it’s as simple as a couple of keyboard clicks.
We wholeheartedly join our congressional champions in saluting AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors, past and present, for the enormous contributions they have made to the lives of people, communities, and nonprofit organizations large and small across the United States. We encourage individuals of all ages to raise their hands in service through AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors. Our country will be a much better place for it.