FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Efforts to Expand National Service and Improve Pathways to Employment for National Service Alumni in Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps
On Friday September 12, President Obama will host a ceremony at the White House with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), President Bill Clinton and hundreds of AmeriCorps members to celebrate the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps and recognize the 900,000 Americans who have served through AmeriCorps over the last two decades. The President will announce new commitments to improve pathways to employment for AmeriCorps alumni, encourage community service by young people and expand national service opportunities. These announcements include the following:
- A new Employers of National Service initiative that encourages employers to create recruitment, hiring, and advancement opportunities for alumni of AmeriCorps and Peace Corps. This includes corporations, non-profits, local, state, and federal government. Disney, Comcast, NBCUniversal, CSX, the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, United Way Worldwide and others have joined this new initiative to support national service alumni as they transition into the workforce.
- A new Stars of Service award that will recognize young people who have demonstrated outstanding examples of volunteering and service. Coordinated with state service commissions, Stars of Service will highlight their accomplishments, creating a robust pipeline of new young leaders prepared to expand volunteering and strengthen communities across the country.
- An expansion of partnerships between CNCS, other federal agencies and private-sector partners to increase opportunities for service in AmeriCorps. Through these new partnerships, more than $45 million in additional resources have been dedicated to these priorities while creating over 4,500 opportunities to serve in our communities.
These new commitments are the latest in a series of actions the Administration has taken over the past five years to expand opportunities for Americans to serve, focus service on pressing challenges, foster social innovation, and increase the impact citizens have on our communities and nation. These actions include signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act; creating innovative AmeriCorps partnerships including FEMA Corps and School Turnaround AmeriCorps; and establishing the President’s Task Force on Expanding National Service. The Task Force, created by the President in July of 2013, has pushed forward the goals of the Serve America Act by identifying additional opportunities for partnership and ways in which national service can serve as a pipeline to employment inside and outside the federal government.
Today’s event is part of a nationwide celebration of the anniversary that includes tens of thousands of AmeriCorps members, alumni, and supporters reaffirming AmeriCorps’ commitment to “get things done for America.” The events kick off a year of service for some 75,000 AmeriCorps members serving coast to coast. Since its inception in 1994, AmeriCorps members have provided more than 1.2 billion hours of service, tackling some of the most pressing challenges facing America: educating millions of students for jobs of the 21st century, supporting individuals, families, and neighborhoods on the road to economic recovery; supporting veterans and military families; helping communities rebuild after natural disasters; improving at-risk ecosystems; and providing healthy futures.
President George H.W. Bush will mark the 20th Anniversary by participating in an AmeriCorps pledge ceremony at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine, and a video from President George W. Bush and Laura Bush will be shown at pledge ceremonies around the country.
In addition to providing Americans with an opportunity to serve, AmeriCorps also:
- Expands Economic Opportunity: AmeriCorps is a pathway to economic opportunity that provides members with valuable skills, leadership abilities, and experience to help jumpstart their careers. AmeriCorps members have earned more than $2.7 billion in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards since 1994, helping hundreds of thousands of alumni pay for college or pay back student loans.
- Strengthens the Nonprofit Sector: AmeriCorps members help tens of thousands of faith-based and community groups recruit volunteers, expand services, build capacity, raise funds, develop new partnerships, and create innovative, sustainable programs. Last year AmeriCorps members recruited, trained, and supervised more than four million community volunteers for the organizations they serve.
- Uses Tax Dollars Efficiently and Effectively: AmeriCorps funds more than $400 million in high-impact nonprofit programs; leverages considerable non-federal resources; and mobilizes volunteers to multiply impact.
The Administration’s New Efforts to Support National Service Include:
New Pathways to Employment for AmeriCorps Alumni
Employers of National Service: CNCS, along with its partners the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps Alums, and the Franklin Project of the Aspen Institute, is launching Employers of National Service, a new cross-sector partnership that encourages employers to create recruitment, hiring, and advancement opportunities for alumni of AmeriCorps and Peace Corps.
This partnership recognizes that AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni are motivated, flexible, and outcome-oriented leaders who have developed valuable skills. Employers of National Service will help organizations take steps to recruit national service alumni. These steps include indicating interest in hiring national service alumni in relevant job postings and placing a checkbox on job applications that asks about past national service experience. Organizations that have already signed on as charter members of Employers of National Service include:
- Corporations: Civic Enterprises, Comcast and NBCUniversal, CSX, Disney, Sonoma Raceway, Trojan Battery Company, McChrystal Group
- Nonprofits: American Red Cross, City Year, Habitat for Humanity International, United Way Worldwide, AmeriCorps Alums, Be the Change, Inc., National Conference on Citizenship, Points of Light, ServiceNation, Voices for National Service
- City Government Entities: the city of Nashville, Cities of Service
- Federal Government agencies: CNCS, Peace Corps, National Science Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Office of Personnel Management and National Park Service.
- Expanding the National Service to Public Service Talent Pipeline: As a result of the President’s Task Force on Expanding National Service and as the federal companion to Employers of National Service, Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta recently issued guidance to help federal agencies recruit and hire alumni of AmeriCorps and Peace Corps. The guidance recognizes the talents and skills of national service alumni and provides standardized language for agencies to include in job opportunity announcements that allows applicants to list their national service and volunteer experience among their qualifications. At least 20 agencies are already using the language in thousands of individual job postings on USAjobs.gov.
- Record of Accomplishment: CNCS also will be launching a new “Record of Accomplishment” to facilitate the ability of prospective employers to understand the value of an AmeriCorps member’s service by detailing their experience. This form will be issued to AmeriCorps members upon completion of their service and will standardize how the federal government reports on the activities of AmeriCorps members.
New Commitments to Expand National Service
- Stars of Service: In the last year, AmeriCorps members helped recruit and manage four million volunteers. This underscores the important link between national service and citizen engagement. The volunteers with whom AmeriCorps members serve include younger Americans who are establishing themselves as community leaders early in life. In recognition of youth leaders, whom we encourage to consider applying their skills through AmeriCorps service, CNCS is creating the President’s Stars of Service Awards. Through a partnership with the Governor-appointed State Service Commissions and nonprofit and corporate partners, CNCS will ask each governor to submit the name of a Stars of Service between the ages of 12 and 18 for recognition and will have the opportunity to be invited to a White House ceremony to be held in 2015. Stars of Service will honor the commitment of young people from diverse communities, rural and urban, all across our country. Youth leaders will be challenged to return to their communities, to engage larger numbers of youth and other partners, to tackle some of their community’s pressing civic challenges. Stars of Service may be invited back to the White House to showcase the results of their progress in 2016.
- Affordable Housing AmeriCorps: A new partnership between CNCS and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Affordable Housing AmeriCorps, will focus on ensuring that affordable housing remains accessible for Americans experiencing poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA members will build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to assist, inform, educate, and engage tenants living in privately-owned, HUD-assisted properties when they are at risk of losing affordability protections or rental assistance. Moreover, AmeriCorps VISTA members will provide crucial quality of life support to residents of these properties, which could include development of community gardens; childcare, tutoring, or public safety programming; and other supports that may help families achieve self-sufficiency. The nearly $3 million in joint funding will support 100 AmeriCorps VISTA members over two years, at organizations in approximately 20 sites throughout at least 10 states.
- Expansion of AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership with the Department of the Interior: A partnership between DOI and CNCS will put 125 AmeriCorps VISTA members in some of our nation’s most underserved and impoverished communities. The joint $2.7 million, two-year commitment includes five of DOI’s bureaus: the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with assistance from the USDA 1994 Tribal Land Grant Colleges and Universities Program, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The AmeriCorps VISTA members will work with DOI Bureaus and local non-profits in 32 states and territories to address the root causes of poverty and protect America’s natural resources, heritage, and tribal cultures. This partnership reflects the goals of both the President’s Task Force on Expanding National Service and DOI’s Youth Initiative focusing on preparing the next generation of leaders.
New Actions to Encourage Civic Learning and National Service in Higher Education
- Civic Learning and National Service Summit: To explore new strategies to tighten the link between civics and service with higher education, the White House will convene a “Civic Learning and National Service Summit” in collaboration with the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service (TCCPS) at Tufts University in October. This session will explore how civic learning and service can play a central role in meeting today's pressing national and education challenges. This summit at Tufts will address two key topics facing higher education – the value of civic engagement and how to measure and communicate civic engagement commitment and outcomes.
- America’s Promise Report: America’s Promise has released The Role of National Service in Closing the Graduation Gap, a comprehensive white paper that documents the critical role of AmeriCorps in helping young people stay in school and graduate. The report demonstrates how national service programs focused on specific interventions are improving academic performance and creating better educational outcomes for children.
- Voices for National Service Report: In connection with AmeriCorps 20th anniversary, Voices for National Service has released a new digital report I Will Get Things Done for America: Celebrating 20 Years of AmeriCorps. With a foreword by Chelsea Clinton, this report celebrates 20 years of service and impact through AmeriCorps. The report estimates that, for every dollar invested in national service, there are estimated returns to society of $3.95 in terms of higher earnings, increased output and other community wide benefits as well as $2.20 in savings to other federal government programs.
Recent Progress on Expanding National Service Opportunities
Today’s announcements build upon earlier accomplishments of the President’s Task Force on Expanding National Service and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Both Presidential priorities are demonstrating that national service is a solution to address pressing national and local issues and a pathway to economic opportunity for those who serve. Federal agencies and private sector organizations have partnered with AmeriCorps to deliver on national priorities. These accomplishments include:
- FEMA Corps: A partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and CNCS, FEMA Corps is a 1,000 member AmeriCorps NCCC program solely devoted to disaster response and recovery. Since its inception, FEMA Corps members have responded to disasters around the country, including Hurricane Sandy, the Colorado floods, the West Texas Fertilizer Plant explosion, Oklahoma tornados, and Alaska floods. FEMA Corps members are fully funded by FEMA, with an investment of over $30 million per year. For more information, click here.
- School Turnaround AmeriCorps: This $15 million partnership between the Department of Education and CNCS is bringing approximately 2,000 new AmeriCorps members over three years into the nation’s lowest-performing schools to support and sustain turnaround efforts. School Turnaround AmeriCorps members are approved to serve in 78 schools around the country, including schools in California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, DC. For more information, click here.
- Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps: A CNCS and DOJ partnership to enroll at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth as AmeriCorps members to provide increased skills-building opportunities and pathways to education and employment. This program will provide up to $10 million in funding over three years and seeks to involve up to 100 AmeriCorps members in its first year.
- U.S. Forest Service Partnership: A CNCS and USDA partnership that connects youth and veterans as AmeriCorps members who will restore the nation’s forests and grasslands while promoting the efforts of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. This partnership provides $3.8 million in joint funding which will support 300 new AmeriCorps members.
- justice AmeriCorps: A CNCS and Department of Justice (DOJ) partnership to engage AmeriCorps members as lawyers and paralegals to assist in the adjudication of immigration proceedings involving certain children who came to the U.S. without a parent or legal guardian. This joint investment will support about 100 new AmeriCorps members in the next year.
- Aspire Mentoring Academy AmeriCorps: A CNCS partnership with AT&T and MENTOR that will support AmeriCorps members around the country and engage thousands of at-risk youth in mentoring activities as part of the company’s Aspire initiative—a $350 million commitment focused on high school success and workforce readiness for students at risk of dropping out of school.
- ServiceWorks: A CNCS partnership with the Citi Foundation and Points of Light in which AmeriCorps members, along with Citi employees and community volunteers, will engage youth in service and build a large-scale volunteer response to the crisis of low college and career attainment. Citi’s three year, $10 million commitment will support 225 AmeriCorps VISTA members over three years in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.
- Financial Opportunity Corps: A CNCS partnership with Bank of America and Points of Light in which AmeriCorps members provide financial coaching to low- and moderate-income families. Bank of America’s investment of nearly $1.5 million supports 38 AmeriCorps VISTA members.
Continued Progress on Priorities through AmeriCorps
- Bringing Healthy Food into Schools – Through the Farm to School Program, USDA has worked with 182 FoodCorps service members in schools across 16 states and the District of Columbia. FoodCorps is part of the AmeriCorps Service Network, and its volunteers spend one year terms in schools across the country helping schools bring local and regionally grown foods into the cafeteria and providing nutrition education to students. One of the ways FoodCorps members do so is through hands-on learning experiences in school gardens. School gardens provide great learning tools for kids, teaching them to apply math, science and nutrition lessons outside of the classroom. Last year, FoodCorps members built or revitalized more than 400 school gardens and reached over 120,000 kids. As an added bonus, those same FoodCorps members helped to harvest more than 40,000 pounds of produce, which was donated in their local communities.
- Using Service to Improve STEM Education – Earlier this year, President Obama launched STEM AmeriCorps, a new initiative to place hundreds of AmeriCorps members in nonprofits across the country to mobilize professionals to inspire young people to excel in STEM education. CNCS placed 20 AmeriCorps VISTA members with the Maker Education Initiative in San Antonio, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Miami, and Baltimore, plus five cities in California, including Oakland, Sanger, Stockton, Santa Ana, and Culver City. CNCS placed 50 AmeriCorps VISTA members with US FIRST, a nonprofit founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people through robotics competitions, in states including Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, Tennessee, Colorado, Texas, and Washington, DC.CNCS placed 256 AmeriCorps VISTA members earlier this summer in six Southern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and West Virginia. This initiative connected over 20,500- at-risk students in low-performing schools to STEM opportunities. In addition, the Department of Education has committed to working with CNCS to showcase AmeriCorps to the 21st Century Community Learning Center grantee network. Through webinars, conferences and other engagement tools, the Department and CNCS will highlight strategies for grantees to effectively develop high quality STEM education programs.