Urge Congress to Invest in AmeriCorps

This is urgent. Community-based organizations that leverage AmeriCorps members to help address local needs must take action to ensure that Congress provides robust annual funding for AmeriCorps, setting up local nonprofits and service members for continued success.

Your members of Congress are in the midst of challenging debates regarding appropriations, and it is essential to connect with them to ensure AmeriCorps is a priority investment.

We need your help. Join us in calling on Congress to reject proposed cuts and to recommit to robust funding for AmeriCorps. 

This webpage makes up the Advocate’s Guide to AmeriCorps and FY24 Appropriations, and will be updated with new and refreshed resources on a rolling basis. If you have any questions about the tactics listed below or would like to schedule a call to discuss key messages or engagement opportunities, please email Shanelle Oliver, Director of Advocacy & Outreach, at soliver2@cityyear.org.


Here’s the problem:

Congress is debating the fiscal year 2024 budget, and both the House and Senate have drafted spending bills that propose to cut funding for AmeriCorps. The House has recommended eliminating all funding for AmeriCorps Education Awards and reducing the agency’s total budget by 50% – the lowest levels in nearly three decades. While the Senate is seeking substantially more than the House, their bill still falls short of what is needed to fund planned increases to the AmeriCorps member living allowances and maintain AmeriCorps’ footprint across the country. If Congress doesn’t ultimately provide more funding for AmeriCorps in fiscal year 2024, there will be a significant cut in awarded service positions and a reduction in services that AmeriCorps members provide.

It is up to us to convince our lawmakers that funding for AmeriCorps is more than nice, it’s essential. We encourage you to look for every opportunity to communicate the impact of your service program through direct engagement with your legislators, special events, speaking engagements, newsletters, social media, blog posts and more. It is critical that you proactively emphasize the importance of funding AmeriCorps in all messages.

NEW: Talking points on AmeriCorps funding (updated January 12, 2024)

Voices for National Service created a one-pager that explains what is at stake for AmeriCorps in detail, including funding charts and the projected cuts in service positions across AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors. Download this document and share it with your legislators in meetings and site visits, or use the data in other advocacy efforts. 

Here’s what you can do:

Meet with your member(s) of Congress.

When lawmakers have to make difficult budget decisions, it is critical that they know which federal programs are making a difference in the lives of their constituents. A meeting with your member of Congress or their senior staff is one of the most valuable ways that you can explain the impact your program is having in the communities they represent and the important role AmeriCorps funding plays in those results. Scheduling a meeting with the district/state office is easy and allows you to establish a relationship that can be deepened over time. 

Host a site visit for your member(s) of Congress.

Even more than a meeting in the congressperson’s office, a site visit to a service location is the best way to demonstrate the critical services your organization provides and the real-life benefits of fully funding AmeriCorps. While hosting a site visit for your legislator or their staff requires more planning, it is an excellent way to cultivate a relationship that will benefit your program and AmeriCorps in the long term. 

Write to your Senators and Representatives.

A well-crafted letter from your executive leadership or local champions is another tool to communicate AmeriCorps’ unique value to your community and the importance of federal funding. Activating your board members, service partners, community leaders, and philanthropic investors and having them sign onto a letter in support of AmeriCorps funding will elevate the impact of your message. 

Write an op-ed or letter to the editor.

Members of Congress closely monitor constituent interests and concerns via local news outlets. An opinion piece or letter to the editor that speaks to a broader audience, and underscores AmeriCorps’ vital importance to the local community, is a great way to get their attention and garner public support. 

Share these messages on your communications channels.

You can raise awareness of the value of AmeriCorps – and the importance of fully funding AmeriCorps – through tools like social media, blog posts, email newsletters, and more. Be sure to tag @Voices4Service and use #Stand4Service so we can amplify any posts on social media! 


Additional Resources:

What You Need to Know to Protect AmeriCorps Funding – Voices for National Service hosted a one-hour webinar on Tuesday, August 15th, to provide an update on FY24 appropriations and messaging, strategy, and tactics for connecting with Congress. We walked through some of the resources available on this page, and answered questions. A recording of the webinar can be found here, and the slide deck is available here.

Advocacy Starts at Home – In 2019, Voices for National Service interviewed Brian McNabb, Senator Bill Cassidy’s State Director, to discuss the role of the district office, how to cultivate a relationship with district staff, and tips for leveraging an in-district meeting. There are many benefits to beginning your AmeriCorps advocacy in the Congressperson’s district, away from the chaos and distractions of Washington, D.C. Check out this short video series to make the most of engaging with your member of Congress at home, and building a connection based in your local community that will transfer to the halls of the Capitol! 


Fast Action Tools:

Email

Send a customizable email to your members of Congress.

Tweet

Share your support for AmeriCorps by sending a tweet.

Stay Updated

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Follow @Voices4Service on social media to see what our member organizations are doing and keep up with AmeriCorps legislative issues.