President Signs 2019 Defense, Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Act (HR 6157)

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Funding Package Includes Continued Investment in National Service and State Service Commissions, Increases for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps

View this Press Release as a PDF

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 28 – Today, the President has signed into law the $855.1 billion FY 2019 appropriations bill (HR 6157) funding the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The measure includes $178.1 billion for the departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services & Related Agencies. The bill also includes a continuing resolution funding other parts of the government through December 7, 2018.

In a major win for service programs and state service commissions, HR 6157 also includes $1.083 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), an increase of $19 million over FY 2018. Within this, the AmeriCorps State and National program will receive $425 million, a $13 million increase and Senior Corps will receive a $6 million increase over FY 2018.

Below is an unofficial funding chart developed by ASC demonstrating the FY19 enacted budget amounts:

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In a September 28th White House statement President Trump declared, “Today, I signed into law important legislation to rebuild our military, protect our communities, and deliver a better future for all Americans… America is being respected again – and our people are being protected again. I am pleased to have signed this bill into law.”

“We are thrilled to see HR 6157 pass in regular order and with such strong bipartisan support under Chairman Shelby’s, Senator Leahy’s, Chairman Frelinghuysen’s, and Representative Lowey’s leadership on Appropriations,” said Tom Branen, Chief Policy Officer of America’s Service Commissions. “It will provide critical funding and increased investment in vital service programs such as AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Volunteer Generation Fund, and the network of governor-appointed state service commissions.”

America’s Service Commissions (ASC) and its public policy arm, the States for Service (S4S) coalition, will conduct a thank you campaign in the coming weeks to thank members of Congress who worked on and supported this bill, as well as the President and White House for signing it.

For more information on CNCS and its programs AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Volunteer Generation Fund, visit https://www.nationalservice.gov/.

For more information on HR 6157, visit www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/6157.

About America’s Service Commissions

America’s Service Commissions (ASC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing and promoting the 52 state service commissions across the United States and territories with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,000 commissioners, private citizens leading the nation’s service movement and administering 80 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. Learn more at  statecommissions.org.

Contact:

Emily Steinberg, Director of External Affairs

America’s Service Commissions

esteinberg@statecommissions.org

(202) 813-0807

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Senate Passes Combined FY 2019 Labor-HHS/Defense Appropriations Legislation-Includes CNCS Funding

August 24, 2018 — Yesterday afternoon, the Senate voted in support of a $856.9 billion spending package (HR 6157) which combines the FY 2019 Defense and Labor-HHS-Education spending bills.

The measure contains $179.3 billion in base discretionary funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies, an increase of $2.2 billion above the FY 2018 level. This bill includes funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Please Note: The bill text and report language have yet to be released, but we do not anticipate any significant changes for CNCS from the previously passed Senate Appropriations Committee recommendations in June. We will send an update with the bill text and funding breakdown once they have been released.

Next Steps

The House has passed its version of the Defense bill but has yet to take up the Labor-H measure approved last month by the House Appropriations Committee. How Congress will enact final versions of one or both of the bills has yet to be determined.

The House is expected to take up the Labor H spending measure upon their return from the August recess. Once passed in the House, the respective spending bills would be reconciled in conference committee as there is $2 billion less in the House  version of the Labor H bill. Once negotiations are completed, a final bill would be sent back to both chambers for a final vote and then to the President’s desk for signature.

There is a chance that the FY 2019 Labor H appropriations legislation could be on track to be passed ahead of the end of this fiscal year, September 30th. That would be a significant accomplishment.

We will keep you updated as this process moves forward.
–Tom Branen, Chief Policy Officer, ASC/S4S

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House Appropriations Committee Recommends $1.06 Billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service for FY 2019

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July 12, 2018 — After an epic and somewhat contentious 13 hour session, the House Appropriations Committee late Wednesday evening approved, 30-22, the $177.1 billion FY 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor H) appropriations bill. This bill provides funding for Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and its programs.

I am pleased to inform you that the bill recommends funding CNCS at the FY 2018 enacted level of  $1,064 Billion for FY 2019. You can view the text of the bill here and the committee’s press release here. CNCS Portion of Bill Text is attached:

Highlights include:

$412 Million  – AmeriCorps State National

$17.538 Million – State Commission Grants

$5.4 Million – Volunteer Generation Fund

$92.4 Million – AmeriCorps VISTA

$202 Million – Senior Corps

$32 million – NCCC

$206.8 Million – Trust

$83.7 Million – CNCS Salaries and Expenses

This is very big news and is an incredibly positive development for state commissions and the entire service sector. Keep in mind that this funding recommendation is provided despite the Trump administration’s recommendation to eliminate CNCS in FY 2019 and the committee was working with the same amount of overall funding as last year and had to make offsets to increase funding for other priorities, such as NIH.

The House Appropriations Committee’s funding recommendation sends a strong message about the critical work that our sector provides and should inspire and motivate you to continue to engage and educate your members of Congress about this important work.

A big thank you to the members of the House Appropriations Committee for all their leadership and support and to our entire state commission and States for Service network and our partners at Voices for National Service and Service Year Alliance for all of the collective, continued advocacy and outreach on behalf of service.

This strong funding mark coupled with the AmeriCorps increase in the Senate mark puts CNCS funding in a strong position as the FY 2019 appropriations  process moves forward.

Next Steps

It’s unclear when and whether House leaders will bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Last year, the version that advanced from committee passed on the House floor when packaged with several other appropriations measures.

Senate appropriators want to combine their Labor H bill with the Defense spending bill. The House already passed its Defense appropriations bill. However, if the Senate passes a combined bill and sends it to the House, the House might skip a floor vote on the Labor-H bill and head straight to conference where House and Senate appropriations negotiators will work out the differences in the respective bills. Once the bills are negotiated and finalized they would go back to both chambers’ floors for a  final vote. Then the President would need to sign. The new fiscal year begins on October 1, so a lot of work will need to be done in a short span of time to complete this process in time. If not completed, there will most likely be a Continuing Resolution that provides short term funding to allow Congress to complete action on appropriations bills.

We still have a way to go in this process and we will continue to update you, but for now, this a very important development for service.

Tom Branen
Chief Policy Officer
America’s Service Commissions

Senate Appropriators Approve $3 Million Increase for AmeriCorps, Level Funding of Other CNCS Programs for FY 2019

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On Thursday, June 28th, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the FY 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor H) appropriations bill. The committee-approved funding measure contains $179.3 billion, an increase of $2.2 billion above the FY 2018 level, in base discretionary funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies.

This bill includes $1.1 billion in funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 30-1. The bill now goes to the full Senate. The bill’s passage marks the earliest the committee has completed consideration of its appropriation bills since 1988.

We at America’s Service Commissions (ASC) and the States for Service (S4S) Coalition are thrilled that this bill expands AmeriCorps funding by an additional $3 million, the highest funding amount in its history, and fully funds the rest of CNCS programs at the FY 2018 level. There was a small decrease in funding for the Trust, although the Committee recommendation reflects the estimated funding needed for the Trust. It maintains strong funding amounts for state commissions in both the State Commission Grant and the Commission Investment Fund.

Highlights for CNCS include:
$415 Million  – AmeriCorps State National (represents $3 million increase – highest level in history)
$17.538 Million – State Commission Grants (level funding from FY18)
$8.5 Million – T/TA to State Commissions (Congress directed per legislation language; level funding from FY18)
$5.4 Million – Volunteer Generation Fund (level funding from FY18)
$92.4 Million – AmeriCorps VISTA (level funding from FY18)
$32 Million – NCCC (level funding from FY18)
$202 Million – Senior Corps (level funding from FY18)
$83 Million – CNCS Salaries and Expenses (level funding from FY18)

Additionally, the Senate included our requested language for CNCS to fully implement and expand Fixed Amount Grants which will reduce unnecessary administrative burdens on current and potential AmeriCorps programs.

On June 15th, on the other side of the Capitol building, the House Appropriations subcommittee advanced its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies legislation. The total allocation the House is providing for this bill did not change from fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2019 at $177.1 billion. It recommends funding for CNCS at FY 2018 levels. The full appropriations committee is scheduled to meet sometime after the 4th of July recess.

Both the Senate and House Labor HHS spending bills are expected to be taken up on the floor of both chambers, where if and when they pass, they would move to a conference committee for final deliberation.

Appropriators in both chambers hope to have this work concluded before the end of the fiscal year that ends on September 30, 2018. This would certainly be an achievement, as appropriations bills over the many cycles have not been completed until after a Continuing Resolution was required to keep government open after the end of the fiscal year.

A Senate vote on that fiscal 2019 package is likely to take place in the next few weeks. It would include the Defense, and Labor H, spending bills. In fact, some are speculating that Senate action could happen before senators leave town Aug. 6 for a week long break.

That bill which combines both Defense and Labor H spending for FY 2019 would make up two-thirds of all discretionary funding, most of which goes toward the Pentagon. That would make the package difficult for President Donald Trump to veto, even though the domestic piece of it, which includes health and education programs, would vastly exceed his own budget request.

Appropriators believe that this could be a win-win for Congress and the White House. Republicans could boast that the Department of Defense is safe from another Continuing Resolution and Democrats would have secured on-time funding for key domestic programs. Having this done before the end of the fiscal year is a rarity for the government in recent years also could avoid a knockdown funding fight just weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

This would mean we could have CNCS and national service programs fully funded by the beginning of October, despite the Administration’s efforts to eliminate it.

We will continue to update our members as this process continues to unfold.

Tom Branen
Chief Policy Officer
America’s Service Commissions

It Takes A Village: Iowa Pilots New Volunteer Center Model in Marion County to Take On Public Health

This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month and Week (April 15-21, 2018), we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are harnessing the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through the federal Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

Today’s spotlight is on Volunteer Iowa, the Iowa commission on service and volunteerism.

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In Iowa, the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program is leveraged by Volunteer Iowa as the state service commission to help develop and enhance the state’s volunteer infrastructure through in-depth volunteer management training and consulting with the Service Enterprise Initiative as well as providing sub-grants to local Volunteer Centers. In 2018, Volunteer Iowa awarded $107,000 in federal VGF grant funds from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to local organizations selected through a statewide competitive process, which is matched by $172,899 in non-federal dollars.

If you aren’t already familiar, Volunteer Centers provide critical services to their communities, including connecting people with opportunities to volunteer and serve, increasing capacity for organizations to engage volunteers in meaningful service, promoting volunteering in the community, and being the voice to suggest volunteerism as a solution to community problems and helping to develop such programs. Volunteer Centers are commonly their own nonprofit organizations, and are sometimes housed within a local United Way or city government.

This year, with Volunteer Generation Fund grant support, Volunteer Iowa is investing in a new Volunteer Center approach being piloted in Marion County by VGF sub-grantee, Marion County Public Health (MCPHD), in Knoxville, Iowa.

The core mission of MCPHD is to prevent disease through health promotion and protection using assessment, policy development, and assurance. Establishment of a new volunteer center aligns with the mission of MCPHD in that, in order to achieve the goal of a healthy population and sustain a healthy community, the mantra of “it takes a village” certainly rings true.

Volunteerism is a key component in the development of the fabric of a community and establishing a culture of health. No one entity in a community can provide all services or financially sustain all needs, volunteers are essential human capital to bolster the success of programming, create sustainability and influence health outcomes for the community.

Individuals who volunteer live significantly longer, healthier and better lives, according to a study in 2007 by the Corporation for National and Community Service. State volunteer rates are strongly connected with the physical health of the states’ population. A study of the Americans’ Changing Lives survey found a threshold of volunteering was necessary for health benefits. Those individuals who volunteered at least 40 hours per year, as well as those who volunteered with just one organization, or group, had the lowest risk of mortality (Musick et al., 1999).

It is well known that one’s environment — where they live, work and play — may have a marked impact on the health of an individual, family and community. In recent years it has become incumbent upon local Public Health agencies to reach further beyond direct programming to engage community partners in development of systemic efforts to move forward public health practices. The realm of Public Health has a long and in general unsung history of interventions in our society. Much like the efforts of public health, the hard work, dedication and resulting public good of volunteers often goes overlooked and unnamed. However, the community fabric has the ability to be forever changed by both.

For Public Health, practices and interventions must be championed throughout the community at the personal, family and community level to achieve real, impactful life changes. Community champions must help carry forth the public health message and practices in a manner that can be sustained beyond public health programming — and volunteers are a key component of this equation as they champion the greater good and experience a sense of personal purpose and satisfaction in their own service.

During the first year of this pilot the Volunteer Center is focusing efforts on the county seat of Knoxville, Iowa. Knoxville has an estimated population of 7,244. According to US Census data it is projected that 7.2% of the population in Knoxville is under the age of 5 and 24.7% is under the age of 18. Census data also indicate that 16.9% of the population lives in poverty. A 2015 Kids Count Data report produced by the Child and Family Policy Center reveals that the number of children in Marion County Iowa living in poverty has increased by 27.9% during the timeframe of 2000 to 2015. According to the Iowa Department of Education, the free and reduced lunch rate in the Knoxville Community School district for the 2016-2017 school year was 43.3%. Knoxville could be described as a lower income, working class community.

In recent years, Knoxville has entered into a season of renewal and transformation. Community leaders have identified a solid vision for the future and have developed strategic plans creating a call to action that has reverberated throughout the community. Key stakeholders, employers and the average citizen have become impassioned to see projects through with an end goal of a happy, healthy, safe and thriving community. Residents are developing a service-oriented culture and sense of community that will serve as the underpinnings of sustaining a vibrant and revitalized city. Since receiving a Volunteer Generation Fund subgrant from Volunteer Iowa, the community’s key revitalization projects have gained momentum and volunteers are leading the way. Some of these key projects include a “Spring Into Parks” Volunteer Clean Up Day, the placement of volunteers at local English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to run a daycare center, the development of a suicide prevention coalition, opening a school food bank, and the launch of a new community walkability study. Great things are happening in the community that will not simply be one time volunteer days, but long-reaching public health changes to the community’s population that will enrich its residents’ well-being and fellowship while also establishing a culture of service.

By investing in Volunteer Centers through the Volunteer Generation Fund, Volunteer Iowa is supporting hyper-local, community-driven volunteerism that meets local needs and builds social capital. Through the network of Volunteer Centers, Volunteer Iowa is partnering to provide capacity building services and training to nonprofits and create a culture of service. The VGF grant allows Volunteer Iowa to support innovative approaches, including promoting volunteerism locally as a public health initiative, that will improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement.

Learn more about Iowa’s VGF intiative and subgrantees. Learn more about the Marion County Health Department at www.marionph.org.

Volunteer Iowa (Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service) and its partner agencies work with organizations and individuals on three main fronts. The first is to help agencies develop quality programs that use service as a strategy to fulfill their missions and address Iowa’s greatest areas of need. The second is to help engage Iowans in their communities by promoting service and expanding the volunteer base. Finally, the third area of work is to connect individuals with appropriate service opportunities by building the volunteer infrastructure. More information is available at volunteeriowa.org.

In the Heart of Communities: Florida’s Volunteer Generation Fund Grants Tackle Workforce Development, Disaster Response, and the Opioid Crisis with Skill-Based Volunteers

This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month and Week (April 15-21, 2018), we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are harnessing the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through the federal Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

Today’s spotlight is on Volunteer Florida, the Florida state service commission.

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Good morning from sunny Florida! I’m Audrey Kidwell, the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) Program Manager at Volunteer Florida. We have focused specifically on increasing skills based volunteers for the past 7 years! We are proud to support 22 organizations each year throughout the state of Florida. Our VGF program uses evidence-based principles of service and the concept of volunteering as a pathway to work.

Skills-based volunteering builds capacity for nonprofits and service organizations by leveraging the experience, talents and education of volunteers such as accountants, attorneys, and IT professionals and matches them with the needs of nonprofits. These funds helps organizations to more effectively recruit, manage, and retain skills-based volunteers to serve in high value volunteer assignments.

Our 22 sub-grantees receive comprehensive training on volunteer management, program and financial requirements, funding for program enhancements, ongoing technical assistance, and coaching to establish or strengthen their skills-based volunteer program.

In 2017, Volunteer Florida invested $286,000 in grants for 22 Florida nonprofits. These 22 Volunteer Generation Fund sub-grantees recruited 15,470 skills based volunteers who served 196,438 hours – a value of over $4.7 million.

Volunteer Florida is especially proud that to support organizations that opt into our priority areas of Disaster Services and Opioid Crisis.

Disaster Services organization utilize skills-based volunteers to improve community resiliency through disaster preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation. Those organizations include Feeding America Tampa Bay and the Monticello Opera House Inc.

Opioid Crisis organizations utilize skills-based volunteers in reducing and/or preventing prescription drug and opioid abuse. Those organizations are Caridad Center Inc., Gulf Coast Jewish Family And Community Services Inc., Parker Street Ministries, and Speak Up For Kids of Palm Beach County Inc.

Our VGF grantees are in the heart of communities across the state, putting volunteers to work to provide STEM education opportunities, help job-seekers find employment, and teach financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship skills to Floridians.
Learning for Success, Inc. manages the KAPOW program throughout South Florida. KAPOW is a national network of business and elementary school partnerships which introduces students to career awareness through professionally designed lessons taught by business volunteers in the classroom and visits to work sites.

KAPOW volunteers served 5,924 students in 71 schools throughout Miami-Dade and Broward County. Volunteers are professionals from the local community, assigned to a school to teach a series of 7 one hour lessons, based on career awareness and work place skills. Volunteers empower students, expose them to various career options, and help to motivate students who are lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem.

United Way of the Florida Keys leads a community-wide partnership with a diverse set of established volunteer-selected nonprofit agencies in Monroe County, Florida.

United Way of the Florida Keys completed 100 tax returns in the community, obtaining low-income clients over $40,000 in returns. Over 115 skills based volunteers were engaged in Hurricane Irma response. Volunteers provided referrals, assistance with debris clean up, and food distribution at different locations throughout the Keys, but primarily in Big Pine Key where residents were hardest hit.

This group of diverse nonprofits, organizations, and of course skill-based volunteers are helping to make Florida a safer, stronger community for all!

Audrey Kidwell is the Volunteer Generation Fund Program Manager at Volunteer Florida. She is a Hoosier turned Floridian, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, an AmeriCorps Alum, and a lover of volunteerism and all things good.

Learn more about Florida’s VGF intiative and its VGF subgrantees.

 

 

The Sun Shines Brightly on Volunteerism in Kentucky

This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month and Week (April 15-21, 2018), we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are harnessing the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through the federal Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

Today’s spotlight is on the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service.

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Greetings from Kentucky! I’m Melissa Benton, the Volunteer Generation Fund Manager at the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service.

It is a beautiful April morning, the sun is raising and there is a scent of bourbon mash in the air. Walking into work this morning, I think of all the opportunities and possibilities that lay ahead – short and long-term goals, forging and fostering partnerships, civic engagement, promoting volunteerism in both urban and rural communities, building the capacity of organizations, data collection, on and on and on.

There is an excitement in the air, too. The Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS) recently received a Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). VGF provides much needed resources to expand our mission, to promote volunteerism to solve problems and to meet the various needs in our communities. (Yes, it is a long name. We will be announcing an official name change very soon.)

We are collaborating with Points of Light Foundation and working toward our certification as a Service Enterprise Initiative Hub. This collaboration provides additional resources we are able to share with organizations including the Volunteer Management Training Series curriculum. Our VGF goals include networking with community organizations to provide resources to strengthen their capacity with volunteer management and to build a link with agencies who need volunteers with individuals or groups who are looking to volunteer.

We have also collaborated with Kentucky Campus Compact (KCC) to pilot an Alternative Service Breaks program. KCC is engaging Kentucky college students in meaningful community service projects in Kentucky. The projects include activities with community members and intergenerational service projects. Three projects have been completed with more are on the horizon:

Northern Kentucky University, Student Engagement: 30 college students traveled to Auixer, Kentucky (Floyd County) March 4 – March 6, 2018.  They served in partnership with Hand in Hand Ministries  to engage 50 community members in a series of service activities and reflection.  Service projects included home repairs, maintenance, or building ramps for the elderly in Floyd County.  Students conducted service activities for 8 hours each day, and participate in reflection conversations in the evening.  In preparation for the experience, the students participated in six servant leadership presentations.  They are also required to keep a journal throughout the experience. Hand in Hand provides the lodging, and Northern Kentucky University coordinated the travel, supplies, and food expenses.

Kentucky State University & Wesley Foundation: 20 HBCU college students engaged older adult residents in Grayson County, Kentucky in a series of service projects and reflection March 12 – March 16, 2018.  The goal was to facilitate inter-generational, interracial small groups of volunteers to do a variety of community clean up and community repair service activities.

Bellarmine University, Service & Leadership: 8 students traveled to David, KY (Floyd County) and conduct service activities in partnership with The David School.  They engaged community members during the trip.  Participants spent the mornings in the classroom alongside David School students, and afternoons doing repair and clean-up that the small school staff otherwise would not be able to accomplish. Each evening, participants visited with a local nursing home for reflection, visiting, and games.

In recognition and in honor of National Volunteer Week, we want to celebrate the accomplishments of the small rural communities not only in Kentucky but also across our country. Volunteers steeping up, identifying available resources, collaborating with local, state and federal organizations and persevering to meet the needs of their communities – their hometown, the place where they call home and want to live and to raise their families.

One such rural community is Booneville, in Owsley County, Kentucky. Booneville is about a 2-hour drive from Frankfort, our state capital. My favorite part of the ride is getting off I-64 and traveling on the “back roads”. My first trip to Booneville was several years ago to meet with Partnership Housing, a relatively new organization, that had started from the findings of the Owsley County Action Team.

Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in the nation with one of the lowest median household income in the country. The median household income in $23,115. The majority of the housing stock is old and there are still homes that lack plumbing.
My first meeting with Partnership Housing was to discuss with them how to keep the doors open and to develop a plan for their success to meet the housing needs of their community. This meeting was primarily with their volunteer board who knew and understood what was on the line for their community. We discussed strategies, goals, and this proud AmeriCorps Alum, introduced them to AmeriCorps.

Cassie Hudson, executive director of Partnership Housing, stated that for almost seventy years no one was building housing in Owsley County. Under Cassie’s leadership and with Rachel Marshall, an AmeriCorps member, a positive change began to happen in Owsley County. Since 2012, Partnership Housing has built 39 homes, completed both minor and major rehabilitation projects on 200 units, and recently completed 6 rental units.

“National service and AmeriCorps has been crucial to Partnership Housing. We could not be where we are today in Owsley County without national service. We cannot do this alone. Partnership Housing was on the verge of closing down. We had bills to pay but no assets to pay them. AmeriCorps provided us a Member to do case management, conduct housing visits and identify individual needs. AmeriCorps provided us support to make our dreams and goals a reality. AmeriCorps program provided an opportunity for the member to see first-hand what was happening in the community – what is behind those closed doors. Roofs are leaking into their light fixtures; folks are wrapped in blankets because they have no heat. AmeriCorps provided us the opportunity to build up our organization and serve our community.”

Now let me introduce you to Charles E. Long, Mayor of Booneville and Cale Turner, Judge Executive of Owsley County. Mayor Long is the oldest and longest serving Mayor in the nation. I recently visited with Mayor Long to discuss volunteerism. He was very candid with me on the needs of Booneville. A World War II veteran, Mayor Long shared with me how he brought water and sewage to Booneville. Mayor Long laughed as he stated he “often wonders what did I get myself in to.” At 99 years old, he says, “I will serve as long as I am needed and can be of service to my community.”

Presenting Mayor Long with a Governor’s Citation for his service (Left to Right: Melissa Benton (Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service), Cassie Hudson (Executive Director, Partnership Housing), Rachael Marshall (AmeriCorps Alum, Housing Coordinator and Counselor), Amber Henrion (AmeriCorps Member), and Mayor Charles E. Long (front).
Presenting Mayor Long with a Governor’s Citation for his service. Left to Right: Melissa Benton (Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service), Cassie Hudson (Executive Director, Partnership Housing), Rachael Marshall (AmeriCorps Alum, Housing Coordinator and Counselor), Amber Henrion (AmeriCorps Member), and Mayor Charles E. Long (front).

Judge Turner was one of the many volunteers I meet to discuss the housing needs of their community. He has provided steadfast leadership to his community through his volunteerism and service. Judge Turners stated that, “In one of the most poverty ridden counties in the United States, you scrape together just enough money to get an organization incorporated. Without AmeriCorps, we would have never had the resources to get Partnership Housing off the ground. Neither county nor city government had to the money to support it. The rewards to this community with AmeriCorps have been immense. I do not think Partnership Housing would exist today if it had not been for AmeriCorps National Service. The collaboration with Partnership Housing and AmeriCorps has been one of the best things that has happened to Owsley County in my lifetime. We are changing lives every day. I hate to think what would have happened in this community without them.”

In my personal reflections, I often think about my own journey since my AmeriCorps service. I recall the AmeriCorps pledge, often honing in on “faced with adversity, I will persevere.” I think about Owsley County and the stigma they have carried for so many years. I have witnessed first-hand their perseverance as a community to solve their problems through volunteerism and service.

Today and this week, let us celebrate all the citizen volunteers who raise up to serve their communities, who identify community needs and work and serve together to strengthen our communities. There will be apathy but we must raise above it and take action. We will have conflict but we must celebrate common ground to move forward. And we must commit to serving our communities.

Happy National Volunteer Week, and let’s continue to shine the light on our citizen volunteers!

Melissa Benton is the Volunteer Generation Fund Manager at the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service. Created in 1994, the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS) manages Kentucky’s AmeriCorps national service programs. The commission is a statewide, bipartisan group of up to 25 members, appointed by the governor, with diverse service and volunteerism backgrounds. The KCCVS serves as a conduit for federal funds that support AmeriCorps programs in the commonwealth, encourage and recognize volunteerism and assist in service program development. KCCVS funding is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Kentucky General Assembly. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is the parent agency for the commission, providing administrative support and oversight.

To learn more about Kentucky’s Volunteer Generation Fund activities, click here.

 

Statement on the Loss of Jennifer Riordan

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Jennifer Riordan (right) receiving recognition from former New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions Deputy Secretary Joy Forehand at the conclusion of Jennifer’s service as our Commission Chair in June, 2017.

America’s Service Commissions joins the New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism in extending our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jennifer Riordan, who passed away in a tragic accident on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 on April 17, 2018.

Jennifer Riordan was a champion for national and community service and a Commissioner of the New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism. As Chair, Ms. Riordan stewarded the Commission through a number of administration changes and served as a trusted friend and mentor to both Commissioners and Commission staff.

Despite a highly demanding professional and personal schedule, Ms. Riordan made the effort to fully understand the streams of service and was a tireless and highly effective advocate in celebrating the accomplishments of AmeriCorps programs throughout New Mexico.

At the time of her tragic passing, Jennifer was planning to join the New Mexico Commission’s staff for the 2018 Points of Lights conference in Atlanta, as seeking the resources and allies to increase service, volunteerism and community engagement — especially among young people — were what motivated Jennifer through all aspects of her life.

The New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism deeply mourns her loss, and will find inspiration and comfort in her extraordinary legacy.

On behalf of the 52 state service commissions across the country, our hearts go out to Jennifer Riordan’s family, friends, colleagues and community.

Small-But-Mighty! Kansas Launches Three-Pronged Approach to Volunteer Generation Fund Initiative

This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month and Week (April 15-21, 2018), we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are harnessing the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through the federal Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

Today’s spotlight is on the Kansas Volunteer Commission (KVC).

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Hello, everyone! My name is Jamie Crispin and I am the Outreach & Engagement Specialist at the Kansas Volunteer Commission (KVC) located in Topeka. My commission prides itself on being a small-but-mighty staff. I am sure many of you can relate. Our goals are all the same, right? We strive to increase volunteerism. We want to recruit the best organizations for the AmeriCorps State program. We aim to provide responsive and current training to our community partners. All the while, hoping we go another year without an IPERA audit. Eek, why did I say it out loud?

Sometimes, as a small-but-mighty commission, it seems there is always MORE we can do. We have big dreams, but a skeleton crew. We have big hearts, but restricted funds. So, what to do? Our solution! To write a competitive Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) proposal and pray to the grant gods for their favor.

As the state service commission, we know the data shows more Kansans are volunteering. Our schools encourage a life of civic engagement, our businesses want to give back, and families are seeking volunteer opportunities together. Our state has a strong volunteering spirit and at the commission level we wanted to foster that spirit.
On the flip side, our nonprofits and especially volunteer centers are attempting to meet the increased demand. Their response is to foster new partnerships and expand their coverage areas to engage more volunteers. Of course, many of them are doing this with no change to their budget or staffing structure. The small-but-mighty staff syndrome seems to be an epidemic. As a result, we have been looking for a solution to change their flat lined funding.

To find the pulse of the state’s needs, we surveyed volunteer managers and volunteer center staff about the resources they were lacking. We collaborated closer with our hosting organization, Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), knowing civic engagement was part of their strategic plan. We reviewed our State Service Plan to see how our priorities intersected with the above. After lots of brainstorming, we created three initiatives to generate more Kansas volunteers: 1) build capacity in volunteer connector organizations, 2) become a Service Enterprise Hub and 3) encourage school-based volunteering. We felt strongly that these initiatives would help the volunteer programs, but moreover, support the staff engaging those volunteers, too.

Well, the grant gods did look upon us with favor. On one fine day last year, KVC became one of 15 state service commissions to receive the VGF funding. For once, our small-but-mighty staff felt accomplished, progressive, and in-the-game! After high-fives and cheers all around, it was time to get down to business.

Fast forward to now, the KVC has awarded nearly $80,000 to four volunteer connector agencies in Kansas. For all four organizations, this money means hiring additional staff to do more good. In their words, this funding has filled a much needed gap and lifted some weight from their shoulders. To us, we know the volunteer connector agencies will have greatest reach in our state’s volunteerism. Recently, we conducted a day-long training with our subgrantees. Each presented on their organizations and VGF goals. We were overwhelmed by their passion, persistence, and commitment to their counties. We can’t say it loud enough. Great things are happening in Kansas, just watch!

Kansas is proud to be ranked #7 in volunteering among states according to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. But, as a state service commission, we have our hearts set on being in the top five. This change cannot happen without preparing our voluntary organizations for the challenge. Earlier this year, KVC was accepted by Points of Light to become the first Service Enterprise Hub in Kansas. The Service Enterprise Initiative (SEI) is a national change management program which helps organizations better meet their missions through the power of volunteers. Being an SEI Hub, means facilitating the evidence-based certification process for interested organizations. KVC will train, coach, and support organizations who want to adjust their internal culture to effectively engage volunteers. KVC is happy to report we will be recruiting our first EVER SEI cohort this year. Woot woot!

If you are wondering about the SEI impact, let me tell you this certification will change the volunteer landscape in Kansas. For those that need evidence, according to the Points of Light website, “Research shows that nonprofits that operate as Service Enterprises are equally as effective as their peers but at almost half the median budget, and are significantly more adaptable, sustainable and capable of going to scale.” SEI certified organizations will connect more volunteers to community problems. Organizations, nonprofits, schools, mentoring organizations will reimagine service and what it looks like for their mission. That means a better return on volunteer investment, and hopefully, getting Kansas in the top five states for volunteering. Fingers crossed!
We have made great progress on our VGF initiatives, but soon to emerge will be the promotion of school-based volunteering. KVC staff will communicate and train Kansas schools on how using community volunteers will meet their unique needs. KVC is certain our expertise and resources will give schools the nudge they need in the right direction to use volunteers both inside and outside the classrooms. Stay tuned for our progress.
In all, we would not have the impact or technical knowledge to support the Kansas communities without this VGF funding. This grant means so much to our commission, but it means so much more to the agencies, volunteers, and communities who will benefit from this grant award.

So, during this National Volunteer Week, I find myself reflecting on our small-but-mighty staff and how our vision has always been mightier than us. For that, we don’t apologize. We see overestimating ourselves as one of our strengths. As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There is no place like home.” (And you thought we would finish this blog without a Wizard of Oz reference!) To us, there is no better way to tackle critical needs, but in local communities through local change makers.

As state commissions, we have the benefit of being part of a national network, but being rooted in our state networks. To all of those large-but-mighty and especially to the small-but-mighty staff, we say this, “dream big.”

May your vision always be bigger than your staff! Happy National Volunteer Week!

POL
KVC staff, Jamie Crispin and Destinee Parker, traveled to Atlanta to complete the Service Enterprise Hub Train-the-Trainer event at Points of Light office.
sei 3
The KVC staff bonded with the Kentucky commission staff members, Melissa Benton and Shannon Ramsey, at the Service Enterprise Hub training. Did you know that commissions that begin with the letter “K” have the most fun?!

Jamie Crispin is passionate about developing volunteer engagement leaders. As an AmeriCorps Alum and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer she understands the impact of volunteerism in our communities and on our personal development. Mrs. Crispin has over ten years’ experience engaging volunteers and recently earned her Certification in Volunteer Administration (CVA). Currently, she is the Outreach and Engagement Specialist at the Kansas Volunteer Commission. In her spare time, she chases after her two sons and enjoys listening to true crime podcasts.

Since 1993, the Kansas Volunteer Commission (KVC) has been promoting volunteerism by administering the AmeriCorps Kansas programs, strengthening volunteer centers, and supporting mentoring organizations through funds, training and technical assistance.

To learn more about Kansas’s VGF program and subgrantees, click here.

BREAKING: Congress Expands Funding for National Service and State Commissions in FY18 Omnibus Bill

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March 23, 2018

UPDATE: President Trump has signed the FY18 Omnibus Bill providing expanded funding for AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, state service commissions, and the Corporation for National & Community Service! See below for more information on what the FY18 Omnibus contains.

Original Post:

March 21, 2018

Washington, DC

Today, Congress released the text of a $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus bill. The legislation is expected to pass both chambers of Congress by the end of the week ahead of a deadline to keep the government open past Friday.

It includes more than $80 billion in new defense spending and $63 billion in nondefense spending for most of the federal government.

CNCS received a total of $1,063,958 Billion in funding, an increase of $33.6 million over FY 2017 funded levels.

Here is the breakdown of CNCS funding:

State Commission Grants:   $17,538,000
AmeriCorps State & National:   $412,010,000
AmeriCorps VISTA:  $92,364,000
AmeriCorps NCCC:  $32,000,000
Senior Corps:   $202,117,000
Innovation, Demonstration & Other:   $7,600,000
— including Volunteer Generation Fund    $5,400,000*
Evaluation:  $4,000,000
National Service Trust:     $206,842,000
Salaries and Expenses:     $83,737,000
Office of the Inspector General:    $5,750,000

Total CNCS Funding:    $1,063,958,000

*Congress directed $5.4 million of the Innovation, Demonstration & Other budget to be spent on Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF).

AmeriCorps State & National and state service commissions received significant increases. AmeriCorps was increased by $26 million, while State Commission Grant received an historic $17.538 million — a $1 million increase. The Commission Investment Fund increased by $1 million to $8.5 million, and the Volunteer Generation Fund received an historic $5.4 million, an impressive increase of $1.6 million, thanks to the hard work of national service champions and groups which included ASC, the state service network, our new States for Service (S4S) Coalition.

The Explanatory Statement directs CNCS to provide not less than $8.5 million for training and technical assistance activities for State Commissions, to expand the capacity of current and potential AmeriCorps programs, particularly in underserved areas.

If you would like to read more, you can view the Bill Text here (see p. 1016 regarding CNCS) and the Explanatory Statement regarding CNCS here (p. 70).

With Congress directing $1 million for training funds to commissions and the $1 million increase to the State Commission Grant, Commissions received an increase of $2 million for FY 2018 above FY 2017.

Additionally, and as a direct result of the work of ASC, the state service network, and our new States for Service (S4S) Coalition, the legislation includes a new general provision to allow CNCS to establish a new and widely anticipated 1,200 hour service position, including a proportional reduction in the education award. This will provide AmeriCorps programs increased flexibility, and more closely align member service positions with the needs of local communities.

 

We are incredibly grateful for the rock solid support and continued investment for service by the Congressional Appropriations Committee leadership and their staff; especially Senators Cochran, Leahy, Blunt, and Murray; and Representatives Frelinghuysen, Lowey, Cole, and DeLauro.

We will continue to update you as this bill moves through Congress and then ultimately to the President’s signature by the end of the week.

 

Tom Branen
Chief Policy Officer
America’s Service Commissions

ASC Congratulates Board Chair Elizabeth Darling on Presidential Nomination for Role of Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF)

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WASHINGTON, DC – America’s Service Commissions (ASC), the national association of state service commissions which leads, supports and elevates the state service network, congratulates Ms. Elizabeth Darling on her recent nomination by President Trump as Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Ms. Darling is a longtime member of ASC and has served as Chair of ASC’s Board of Directors since September 2017. As President and CEO of OneStar Foundation, Texas’ state service commission, Ms. Darling has spent the past nine years focused on the needs of her home state and local Texas communities, including youth development engagement and strategies as related to AmeriCorps programming and education. Before coming to OneStar, Ms. Darling served as COO of the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, D.C.

“All of us at ASC are thrilled to learn of Liz Darling’s nomination as Commissioner of ACYF and enthusiastically applaud the President’s choice,” said Kaira Esgate, CEO of America’s Service Commissions. “Liz has been a smart, strategic, and influential leader within the state service commission network for many years, and will be a strong leader for youth and families once confirmed.”

Upon her confirmation by the United States Senate, Liz would oversee the $18 billion portfolio of programming related to child abuse and neglect prevention, foster care, youth development, adoption, runaway and homeless youth, teen pregnancy prevention, and family violence prevention, as reported by the Nonprofit Times.

Liz will continue to serve in her role as OneStar Foundation President/CEO in Austin, Texas until her confirmation.

Read the White House Press Release: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/president-donald-j-trump-announces-key-additions-administration-32/

Read the related Nonprofit Times article: http://www.thenonprofittimes.com/news-articles/trump-nominates-onestar-ceo-to-head-hhs-agency/

View OneStar Foundation’s Announcement: http://onestarfoundation.org/special-announcement-from-onestar-foundation/

Eight States Selected to Receive Afterschool Grants from ASC, Mott Foundation

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New program development initiative will expand afterschool opportunities through AmeriCorps

For Immediate Release

Contact: Emily Steinberg, (202) 813-0807
esteinberg@statecommissions.org

Washington, D.C. — Eight states will be better poised to expand out-of-school time opportunities for youth at a statewide level, thanks to a grant of $250,000 from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The grant, awarded to America’s Service Commissions (ASC), will support a multi-year initiative to identify how the state service commission network can expand afterschool opportunities through national service, such as AmeriCorps. ASC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of the 52 Governor-appointed state service commissions across the United States and its territories that administer AmeriCorps*State grant and other volunteer-related funds.

As part of the initiative, ASC has selected eight state service commissions to receive $12,500 mini-grants. Funding will support staff and consultant time to develop a better understanding of the local afterschool landscape and identify potential paths for developing national service programming that will expand the quality and quantity of afterschool opportunities in their respective states.

The eight states selected to receive this funding include:

In total, ASC will provide these eight states with $100,000 in Mott funding for afterschool program development.

ASC will provide hands-on support to the selected states with monthly learning community calls, ongoing coaching, and a yearly convening for commissions receiving grants. In year two, five additional states will be selected to participate.

“We are thrilled to get this funding out there — to the states —to ensure that real program development can start happening at the local level,” said ASC CEO Kaira Esgate. “With Mott Foundation’s generous support and strong connections to the world of afterschool networks, we are confident that we can make a real difference for a lot of young people through AmeriCorps and national service programming.”

In addition to supporting states, ASC will work with the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks and other key stakeholders to develop new strategies around afterschool program development over the next two years.

Through this effort, ASC believes that the project will lead to an increased understanding between state service commissions and statewide afterschool networks about how to leverage national service and AmeriCorps resources in support of high-quality afterschool opportunities nationwide.

For more information on this initiative, visit statecommissions.org/afterschool.

# # #

About America’s Service Commissions
America’s Service Commissions (ASC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing and promoting the 52 state service commissions across the United States and territories with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,000 commissioners, private citizens leading the nation’s service movement and administering 80 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. Learn more at statecommissions.org.

About Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, established in 1926 in Flint, Michigan, by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society.  It supports nonprofit programs throughout the United States and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally.  Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Education. In addition to Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg and London.  With year-end assets of approximately $2.7 billion in 2016, the Foundation made 405 grants totaling more than $121 million.  For more information, visit www.mott.org.

ASC Joins #GivingTuesday, Pledges to Unite States in Service

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For Immediate Release                   
November 20, 2017
Contact: Emily Steinberg, (512) 961-1702, ESteinberg@statecommissions.org

Washington, DC — America’s Service Commissions (ASC), the national association of the 52 state service commissions across the country, has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Occurring this year on November 28, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

On November 28, ASC will raise donations in support of its mission to unite states in service. The nonprofit will ask its supporters to make a gift of $20 in honor of its 20th anniversary.  Together, these gifts will help support state service commissions and their AmeriCorps programs across the country that are addressing America’s most critical needs at the state and local level. As the nonprofit association representing the 52 state service commissions, ASC plays a key role in building the capacity of the state service network and ensuring strong bi-partisan support of our work.

Those interested in joining America’s Service Commissions’ #GivingTuesday initiative can visit www.statecommissions.org/donate.html.

“We believe whole-heartedly in the mission of #GivingTuesday,” said Kaira Esgate, CEO of America’s Service Commissions. “As an association focused on capacity building and civic engagement, we understand the need for individual citizens to get involved in supporting the causes they care about — both through volunteerism and philanthropic giving.”

The organization 92Y − a cultural center in New York City that, since 1874, has been bringing people together around its core values of community service and giving back − conceptualized #GivingTuesday as a new way of linking individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage giving. In 2016, the fifth year of #GivingTuesday, millions of people in 98 countries came together to give back and support the causes they believe in. Over $177 million was raised online to benefit a tremendously broad range of organizations, and much more was given in volunteer hours, donations of food and clothing, and acts of kindness.

“We have been incredibly inspired by the generosity in time, efforts and ideas that have brought our concept for a worldwide movement into reality,” said Henry Timms, founder of #GivingTuesday and executive director of 92Y. “As we embark on our sixth year of #GivingTuesday, we are encouraged by the early response from partners eager to continue making an impact in this global conversation.”

For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website (www.givingtuesday.org), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday) or follow @GivingTues and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media


#  #  #

About America’s Service Commissions
America’s Service Commissions (ASC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing and promoting the 52 state service commissions across the United States and territories with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,000 commissioners, private citizens leading the nation’s service movement and administering 80 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. Learn more at statecommissions.org.

About #GivingTuesday
#GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the world. This year, #GivingTuesday falls on November 28. #GivingTuesday harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season. It inspires people to take collective action to improve their communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they believe in, and help create a better world. #GivingTuesday demonstrates how every act of generosity counts, and that they mean even more when we give together. To learn more about #GivingTuesday participants and activities or to join the celebration of giving, please visit: www.givingtuesday.org

 

Spread Kindness this Holiday Season

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The weather is getting colder and holidays are almost upon us. While many of us will be celebrating, not everyone feels the joy. In fact, the holidays can be challenging for lots of people, including those who are hungry, lonely or sick. You can help! Join our friends and partners at Youth Service America (YSA) for their Kindness Rising campaign and make a difference through service projects or kind acts this year!

Visit YSA.org/KindnessRising follow these three simple steps to help Kindness Rise!

  1. Take the pledge to BE FEARLESS BE KIND.
  2. Start a project or do a kind act in your community! (Already doing a project? Share it!)
  3. Show your impact to be eligible for one of ten $250 grants!

The campaign calls on youth to stand-up for others, be inclusive and make a difference through service projects or kind acts. From providing food for the hungry to visiting with senior citizens, to raising money for kids in need, youth can change the world through kindness.

Downloadable Flyer

Get involved! Use this downloadable flyer to spread the word about the Kindness Rising campaign.

State Service Commissions, National Service Respond to 3 Hurricanes

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Pictured Above: (1) The Comisión de Voluntariado y Servicio Comunitario de Puerto Rico and local AmeriCorps members from the Boys & Girls Club of Puerto Rico join the Center for Puerto Rico by helping hurricane-affected families.  (2) Volunteer Florida and its AmeriCorps FL program Peacemakers Family Center partners with Convoy of Hope and Miami Dolphins Special Teams to host a post-Hurricane Irma food giveaway in Miami serving over 6,000 individuals in need (3) Texas Conservation Corps, funded by the Texas commission, OneStar Foundation, tarps damaged houses in Southeast Texas following Hurricane Harvey.  (4) Another Texas Conservation Corps crew of AmeriCorps members deploys to Aransas Pass, TX to set up a Volunteer Reception Center, organize volunteers, help homeowners, and manage donations for the nearby Rockport and Corpus Christi response to Hurricane Harvey.

This past month, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have left a trail of destruction across the United States and its territories. State service commissions and their local AmeriCorps programs have sprung into action to help affected communities respond and recover. Working with their Governor’s and First Lady’s Offices, state emergency management agencies, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs), and the Corporation for National & Community Service’s Disaster Services Unit (CNCS DSU), these state service commissions are playing a critical role in coordinating national service and volunteer resources on the ground.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, the Texas commission OneStar Foundation has partnered with Governor Abbott’s office and national philanthropists Michael and Susan Dell to administer the new RebuildTX disaster fund, which has already raised more than $68 million to rebuild Texas communities. OneStar has also activated AmeriCorps Texas members across their portfolio virtually to answer more than 4,000 Crisis Cleanup hotline calls and deployed their local AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team (ADRT) Texas Conservation Corps to place dozens of well-trained “boots on the ground” in Houston and Southeast Texas. To learn more and donate, visit RebuildTX.org.

Volunteer Louisiana, also affected by Hurricane Harvey, established a virtual volunteer reception center at VolunteerLouisiana.gov, connecting thousands of citizens with volunteer opportunities in Louisiana and Texas. Volunteer Louisiana also connected citizens with donation opportunities and staffed phone lines for all volunteer and donation inquiries.

In response to Hurricane Irma, the Florida commission Volunteer Florida and its AmeriCorps State teams have provided disaster response to more than 8,600 residents, and locally-serving Senior Corps programs have been involved in emergency food, shelter, and volunteer operations. To learn more and donate, visit volunteerflorida.org/irma.

Most recently, Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria. Currently the island has limited access to water and cell phone service. They are expected to be without electricity for months. The commission, Comisión de Voluntariado y Servicio Comunitario de Puerto Rico, is working with the First Lady’s Office and its local AmeriCorps programs to provide services to citizens impacted by the storm. To learn more and donate, visit unidosporpuertorico.com.

In total, CNCS has already deployed more than 1,800 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members to areas impacted by these hurricanes.

Thank you to these hardworking state service commissions and national service members for their tireless dedication to help local communities recover as quickly as possible from this devastation!

Mott Foundation Seeks to Expand Afterschool Opportunities through National Service, AmeriCorps — $250,000 Awarded to America’s Service Commissions for Multi-Year Initiative

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Emily Steinberg, (512) 961-1702, ESteinberg@statecommissions.org

Download this Press Release (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — States will be better poised to expand out-of-school time opportunities for youth at a statewide level, thanks to $250,000 in grant funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The two-year grant is being awarded to America’s Service Commissions (ASC), a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of the 52 Governor-appointed state service commissions across the United States and its territories that administer AmeriCorps*State grant and other volunteer-related funds.

From 2017-2019, ASC will work to identify ways in which the state service commission network can expand afterschool opportunities for youth through the inclusion of national service resources and opportunities, such as AmeriCorps.

ASC believes that state service commissions can play an important role in advancing afterschool programming efforts nationwide by providing human capital in the form of AmeriCorps members and community volunteers.

“The ultimate goal of the project,” said ASC CEO Kaira Esgate, “is not only to expand how many afterschool options are available, but to increase the quality of those opportunities — including getting the young people who participate engaged in more meaningful service and service-learning opportunities.”

Over the course of the two-year grant, ASC will work with the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks, state service commissions and other key stakeholders. Together, they will identify and replicate promising practices that expand the capacity of afterschool programs through the inclusion of national service members/resources, as well as ways in which high-quality community service elements can be incorporated into afterschool programs.

Through this effort, ASC believes that the project will lead to an increased mutual understanding between state service commissions and statewide afterschool networks to better leverage national service and AmeriCorps resources in support of high-quality afterschool opportunities nationwide.

For more information on this initiative, visit www.statecommissions.org/afterschool.

# # #

About America’s Service Commissions
America’s Service Commissions (ASC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing and promoting the 52 state service commissions across the United States and territories with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,000 commissioners, private citizens leading the nation’s service movement and administering 80 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. Learn more at statecommissions.org.

About Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, established in 1926 in Flint, Michigan, by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society.  It supports nonprofit programs throughout the United States and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally.  Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Education. In addition to Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg and London.  With year-end assets of approximately $2.7 billion in 2016, the Foundation made 405 grants totaling more than $121 million.  For more information, visit www.mott.org.

The case for an American ‘year of service’

Originally posted by The Hill, shared with permission

The Hill photo

In times of national crisis, Americans have a history of coming together and giving back.

In the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt put 3 million unemployed men to work through the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the Cold War, President Kennedy told Americans to “ask not” what their country could do for them, but what they could do for their country, setting the stage for the establishment of the Peace Corps. And after 9/11, millions of Americans stepped forward to serve their neighbors, as volunteering soared and national service opportunities grew to lend a hand both at home and abroad.

Today, our nation suffers from an erosion of trust in one another and our key civic institutions. We see the effects all around us — from the fraying of American communities to concerns about our national government. How do we rescue a sense of national purpose and restore confidence in our democracy and ourselves?

General Stanley McChrystal (Army-Ret.) has awakened the country to a big idea — to make a year of national service a rite of passage for 18-28 year olds. Large-scale national service would deepen Americans’ understanding of the responsibilities, not only the rights of citizenship, and cultivate the next generation of leaders, who can work together across social and political divides to produce results for our country.

McChrystal correctly argues that national service programs are deserving of Congress’ continued support. We agree and have joined his Service Year Alliance to make a year of service a common expectation and opportunity for young people. We believe states have a great role to play in expanding these opportunities. Here, we offer our “two state solution for national service” to inspire other states to join this cause.

In Virginia, under first lady Dorothy McAuliffe’s leadership, we’ve worked to promote national service, partnering to engage every college and university in the commonwealth to create service year opportunities for students to connect their courses of study with real-world experiences to improve their communities. In 2016, over 50 Virginia colleges and universities signed on to Virginia’s Compact on National Service, and together, they are integrating service year opportunities on their campuses to build up their students as engaged citizens.

In Virginia, our commitment to the enduring necessity of service runs deep. Home of our first president and citizen-soldier, George Washington, Virginia became the nation’s first state to be designated an “Employer of National Service.” We encourage AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni to put their experience to work on behalf of the commonwealth, recognizing that applicants emerging from a National Service Year create a skilled talent pool to fill jobs in our state government workforce. Since that designation in early 2015, we have tripled the number of national service alumni working for the Commonwealth.

In Iowa, led by Gov. Kim Reynolds, we launched the nation’s first Governor’s Council on National Service, signing a groundbreaking executive order charging state agencies to create service year opportunities to solve public challenges at low cost to taxpayers. We wanted to develop a strategy to expand national service opportunities and further our reach with existing state and private funding. We believe national service is a successful strategy to engage citizens and improve government effectiveness.

Since our council issued its report, we have worked with both sides of the aisle in the Iowa legislature to implement it. We passed legislation creating the Iowa Reading Corps, which has already documented success getting struggling readers back on track and reducing special education costs.

We created RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps, helping refugees integrate into Iowa communities. Working with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and private utility companies we expanded the Iowa Green Corps into new communities, helping keep energy costs lower and reducing peak consumption. This fall we will launch a new national service program aimed at curbing the growing opioid epidemic.

But our efforts are far from over. We’re working to make it easier to create more service year opportunities because we believe service should be part of what it means to be an American. For every service year opportunity we create, more than 30 other volunteers get involved, bringing people of all backgrounds together to turn us from a country divided to a country united.

By promoting national service as a pathway to success for young people, states reinvigorate our democracy and put more Americans back to work for the public good. Policies that put national service at the center of cultivating future leaders are critical to our nation’s success. States shouldn’t wait to encourage more people to enter a better relationship with their country at a time of national division and loss of public trust. Now more than ever is the time to embrace national service. States can lead the way.

Kim Reynolds is the governor of Iowa. Dorothy McAuliffe is the first lady of Virginia. They have worked closely with Service Year Alliance, chaired by General Stanley McChrystal, to show what states can do to advance national service. Read this piece in its original format in The Hill.

Announcing ASC’s 2016 Annual Report

 

Dear ASC Members, Colleagues, and Friends:

We are pleased to present you with a copy of our 2016 Annual Report, which you can view and download below. As we like to say, better late than never! We hope you’ll enjoy reading our past year-in-review, including interactive maps, links, photos and member resources.

2016 was a year of growth for ASC and the state service commissions we serve. The role of state commissions and ASC continues to be essential and fundamental to maintaining a healthy, vibrant, and effective national service network. Consider the following objectives that we collectively accomplished in 2016 to advance state service:

  • Completed an intensive strategic planning process to help re-align ASC’s mission, vision, strategies, activities, and objectives;
  • Ensured the inclusion of Commission Investment Fund (CIF) dollars in federal legislation as a tool to help commissions provide training and technical assistance (TTA) to AmeriCorps programs, particularly in rural and underserved regions of their states; 
  • Further developed the role of states in administering national service funding, increasing the amount of State/National AmeriCorps resources administered by state service commissions from 75% to 78%;
  • Planned and executed four successful regional training conferences in collaboration with partner host states (Massachusetts Service Alliance, Nevada Volunteers, Serve Alabama, and Serve Indiana);
  • Expanded ASC member services to include a variety of new offerings as part of our CIF and TTA services, including a commission evaluation capacity webinar series, a new AmeriCorps program start-up webinar series, and peer exchange coordination; and 
  • Grew ASC’s membership with a record 244 AmeriCorps state service partner programs.

Perhaps most importantly, ASC has continued to grow our advocacy efforts and provide stability to the state service network in times of significant budget and policy change. Governors and other key elected officials increasingly rely on our network to meet critical community needs.

We are excited for the future. In alignment with our new three-year strategic plan, ASC staff and Board members are already hard at work planning for the launch of our new Public Policy Coalition, updated branding, enhanced Commissioner outreach and engagement efforts, and other new membership services. We are also excited to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of ASC in September 2017 (save the date for the evening of September 12 and stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks)!

Thank you for your continued support and leadership. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with you to advance state service together this year and beyond. As always, we welcome your thoughts, ideas, questions, and partnership.

In service,
 
Kaira Esgate
Chief Executive Officer
America’s Service Commissions (ASC)

ASC Congratulates Board Chair Chester Spellman on Being Named New Director of AmeriCorps

Chester Spellman headshotWASHINGTON, DC – America’s Service Commissions (ASC), the national association of state service commissions which leads, supports and elevates the state service network, congratulates Mr. Chester Spellman on his recent appointment to the position of Director of AmeriCorps for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Mr. Spellman has served the national service community faithfully for the past five years as Chief Executive Officer of Volunteer Florida, where he was appointed by Governor Rick Scott, as well as ASC’s Board Chair since 2016, where he was elected by his state service commission peers. During Chester’s time with ASC, we have been consistently impressed by Chester’s passion for public service, high standards of excellence and professionalism, and persistence in getting things done.

On behalf of ASC’s membership and the state service network nationwide, we congratulate Chester and applaud the White House’s selection for this crucial role. We are pleased to see the Administration continuing the tradition of appointing strong state service leaders to key leadership roles within CNCS. ASC believes that national service is stronger with the voices and experience of state and local leaders at the helm.

Chester will be moving from Tallahassee, Florida to Washington D.C. with his wife and three children and will start as Director of AmeriCorps at CNCS on August 28, 2017.

Click here to read CNCS’s announcement of Chester Spellman’s appointment.

FY 2018 Appropriations Update

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Compiled by Tom Branen, Chief Policy Officer, America’s Service Commissions (Sources: CQ, Politico)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to advance FY 2018 spending bills using preliminary spending allocations, confirming that both chambers intend to move forward on the spending process without a budget resolution adopted.

McConnell has made the point that sooner rather than later the Senate will have to come to a bipartisan agreement on what the topline spending figures are on the discretionary accounts this year.

Congress will need to come to an agreement on lifting discretionary spending levels outlined in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which set spending levels considered untenable by Democrats and defense hawks alike.

In the meantime, McConnell hopes to move forward with some of the appropriation bills at last year’s levels, and then adjust them once a bipartisan agreement is brokered.

It appears that Senate appropriators will use fiscal 2017 as their guide as kind of a bookmark for markups recognizing that it will be adjusted by whatever topline agreement is set. This would be a positive development for FY 2018 funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), as key Congressional staff have indicated that increased spending caps would lessen the threat to any cuts to CNCS.

McConnell’s reference to the need for budget negotiations comes as a top House appropriator had little to report.

House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., suggested that House lawmakers may revert to spending levels in the BCA.  He said he hadn’t heard of any budget talks and at the end of the day it will wither be a year-long CR or a bipartisan negotiated omnibus, probably toward the end of the calendar year.

In the meantime, Cole said, as the committee writes bills, we can look at the BCA number, that is the law of the land. That discretionary level would be $3 billion less for nondefense discretionary than fiscal 2017 levels.

Debt Ceiling and Budget Deal

Senate Republicans are reportedly planning for a July vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Though the Treasury Department has said Congress can likely wait until September to avoid default, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would like to clear the Senate’s agenda as much as possible before the August recess. Members of both parties are interested in a broad spending deal that would avoid the budget cuts of sequestration.

There is also an emerging consensus among Hill leaders that the debt ceiling — currently $20 trillion — should be raised by an amount large enough to preclude another vote for several years making it easier for most rank-and-file lawmakers to just have one vote this Congress.

There may be some rank-and-file support among House Republicans to piece together a bipartisan budget deal to raise spending caps, as is being discussed in the Senate. More than 141 defense-minded House Republicans signed a letter in early May asking GOP leaders to raise the cap on the Pentagon budget.

Senate Democrats would not support a military boost without increases for domestic programs as well. Some GOP defense hawks may be willing to negotiate to do both. It’s unclear, however, whether they would want to link that to a debt ceiling vote.

If a budget deal is completed before the August recess that lifted the spending caps, appropriators would be able to move forward with markups at the actual allotments for the various subcommittees. Therefore, the House and Senate Labor HHS subcommittees that determine the funding levels for CNCS would be able to move forward at hopefully a higher spending cap and have the ability to fully fund CNCS and all its programs in FY 2018.

In the meantime, we need to continue outreach to members of Congress and educate them on the critical role and impact CNCS is having in our communities.

Click here to read ASC’s previous Statement on the President’s FY 2018 Budget.

GardenShare Fights Hunger in Rural North Country, NY with Community Volunteers

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This June, we’ll be featuring stories of national service programs operating in the Healthy Futures focus area. National service programs like AmeriCorps and the Volunteer Generation Fund can play a key role in promoting health within a state, from coordinating community gardening, delivering summer meals, to promoting healthy lifestyles, outdoor activities, and fitness. Learn more at nationalservice.gov/focus-areas/healthy-futures. #HealthyFutures

NEW YORK.  GardenShare is a locally-led nonprofit seeking to end hunger and strengthen food security in northern New York State, and is a recipient of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant. Gardenshare’s mission is to solve the problem of hunger in St. Lawrence County by strengthening the food system to benefit residents across the rural county.

At GardenShare-supported farmers markets, VGF-supported volunteers provide education and information to low-income consumers about the benefits of buying fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition, GardenShare has announced its second year of offering “double dollars” at farmers markets to consumers who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Last year, this program increased the SNAP benefit use at farmers markets by 70%, and GardenShare plans to expand this program this year to reach a larger population. This allows low-income individuals and families to purchase twice as much produce if using their SNAP benefits, and is an important step towards their mission of making fresh, healthy food available to everyone.

GardenShare’s mission and activities exemplify the Healthy Futures focus area of national service. Last year, more than 500 volunteers contributed to capacity building efforts, and provided 8,000 meals for individuals and families in rural, upstate New York.

Learn more about GardenShare and sign up to volunteer at www.gardenshare.org.

Learn more about the NY Commission on National and Community Service’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program here.

AmeriCorps Members Promote Healthy Futures in West Virginia as Community Health Developers, Lifestyle Coaches

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This June, we’ll be featuring stories of AmeriCorps State service programs operating in the Healthy Futures focus area. AmeriCorps programs often play a key role in promoting health within a state, from coordinating community gardening, delivering summer meals, to promoting healthy lifestyles, outdoor activities, and fitness. Learn more at nationalservice.gov/focus-areas/healthy-futures. #HealthyFutures

WEST VIRGINIA. The West Virginia Community Health AmeriCorps Developer (WVCHAD) Program is an AmeriCorps State program funded through the Volunteer West Virginia state service commission and operated by the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department (MOVHD). The mission of the department overall is to provide access to quality health care and education for core public health services, including preventive health, for citizens residing in Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood Counties in West Virginia. This mission is accomplished through partnerships, collaborative relationships, community involvement, stakeholder input and guidance from a diverse Board of Health comprised of two members from each of the counties and cities served by the department.

One key way MOVHD accomplishes its mission is through AmeriCorps. WVCHAD  AmeriCorps members serve as Healthy Community Developers offering lifestyle programs including: Chronic Disease Self-Management, Diabetes Self-Management and National Diabetes Prevention Programs. These programs have proven to decrease weight, blood pressure and medications.

On top of all that, some WVCHAD AmeriCorps members focus on healthy outcomes in times of disaster! This done by assisting the state’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) coordinator on Emergency Preparedness presentations to local organizations, giving talks and demonstrations at health fairs and other community events on preparedness, and recruiting Medical Reserve Corps volunteers.

WV Community Health Developers serve year-round and statewide across many sites. In its fifth year, the WVCHAD AmeriCorps program is meeting critical needs in the Healthy Futures focus area.

Too many West Virginians are struggling with chronic disease. The West Virginia population as a whole is at high risk for diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancer and early death because of physical inactivity, substance use and poor nutrition. Per America’s Health Rankings 2015 Annual Report, West Virginia ranks 47th in the nation for overall worst health determinants which are defined as the range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors that influence our health. This report also grades West Virginia 50th in the nation for diabetes, drug deaths, heart disease, high blood pressure, and smoking and poor physical health days, 49th for obesity, and 47th for physical activity.

By leveraging the power of AmeriCorps members to serve in local communities, West Virginia is improving health outcomes one West Virginian at a time. For example, one health program offered by WVCHAD Healthy Community Developers is a walking class. One participant started out very slowly and worked her way to walk one mile, three times per week, with her AmeriCorps Lifestyle Coach. Several months later, she came to the class so excited to share, “I was able to stand long enough to cook a meal for my family for the first time in over 10 years!”

The WVCHAD program is currently recruiting for its fifth cohort of AmeriCorps members in the 2017-2018 program year! Learn more and apply today at serviceyear.org/movhd/.

Wisconsin HealthCorps: Ensuring Healthy Futures Across the State

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This June, we’ll be featuring stories of AmeriCorps State service programs operating in the Healthy Futures focus area. AmeriCorps programs often play a key role in promoting health within a state, from coordinating community gardening, delivering summer meals, to promoting healthy lifestyles, outdoor activities, and fitness. Learn more at nationalservice.gov/focus-areas/healthy-futures. #HealthyFutures

WISCONSIN. The Wisconsin HealthCorps is an AmeriCorps State program funded through the Serve Wisconsin state service commission and run by the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (WPHCA) and the Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA). In 2010, these organizations came together to create the Wisconsin HealthCorps because they recognized the impact AmeriCorps members could have on the health outcomes of Wisconsin’s communities.

The program places individuals who are interested in public health and health care professions in community-based, health-focused organizations across the state. Each AmeriCorps member serves 1700 hours over one year, providing culturally competent health education and assistance to individuals in accessing and navigating the health care system.

The program aims to:

  • Increase access to primary health care
  • Advance evidence based community health initiatives
  • Promote health care for all regardless of race, income, gender, or age
  • Develop the next generation of health care leaders

The program’s multi-site design allows for AmeriCorps members to view the health care system through multiple lenses. Each of the program’s 22 members are placed in a variety of host sites across the state, ranging from Public Health Departments, Community Health Centers, and health-focused non-profits. This diversity in host sites provides the members with unique experiences and opportunities to help them gain a better understanding of the health care challenges facing our communities.

Whether a member is serving in a Public Health Department working to bring different stakeholders and organizations together to address community wide public health issues, or whether a member is serving in a Community Health Center assisting individual patients by connecting them to resources within the community, each member is working towards the same goal — increasing access to health care for all Wisconsinites.

Wisconsin HealthCorps AmeriCorps members give so much to the communities they serve in. The program is currently recruiting for its eighth cohort of AmeriCorps members in the 2017-2018 program year!

Learn more and apply today at wihealthcorps.wordpress.com/.

Recognizing and Leveraging the Power of Senior Corps to Help Older Americans

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By Brianne Fitzgerald, Volunteer Iowa & Emily Steinberg, America’s Service Commissions

Did you know May is Older Americans Month? According to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), which leads the national celebration each year, older Americans more than ever before are working longer, trying new things, and engaging in their communities. They’re taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others.

One key example of this notable trend? Senior Corps. Last year, 245,000 seniors aged 55 and older gave back to their communities as Senior Corps volunteers, serving an impressive 74.6 million total hours. Collectively, these Senior Corps volunteers helped 845,000 additional older adults, according to the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) which administers the Senior Corps and AmeriCorps programs.

At the state level, Governor-appointed state service commissions are also taking note of and partnering with Senior Corps to “get things done” for local communities. For example, Volunteer Iowa which is the Hawkeye State’s designated commission on volunteering and service, is proud of its strong involvement with and support for Senior Corps programs, including the Retired Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVP).

In July 2016, Volunteer Iowa announced an award of $279,000 in state-funded RSVP grants, leveraging over $1.2 million in federal funds, and supporting 5,498 RSVP Senior Corps volunteers.

This program, along with federal and state funding for AmeriCorps, is helping generate and support over 41,000 community volunteers working to improve hundreds of local nonprofits, schools and communities throughout Iowa.  Volunteer Iowa has over 7,000 National Service positions in the state, with 5,500 of those as Senior Corps volunteers.

And every dollar in state funding to RSVP leverages $27.80 in additional funding. Senior Corps work truly matters in Iowa!
RSVP connects volunteers age 55 and over with service opportunities in their communities that match their skills and availability. From building houses to immunizing children, from enhancing the capacity of nonprofit organizations to improving and protecting the environment, RSVP volunteers put their unique talents to work to make a difference. Volunteer Iowa supports Senior Corps members with training and networking opportunities and recognition events. Iowa is beyond grateful for the work that the RSVP volunteers are doing within the state.

In 2016, in Iowa alone:

  • 3,800 young Iowans were tutored by Foster Grandparents
  • 830 local organizations benefited from Iowa RSVP volunteers
  • 1,000 homebound seniors were assisted by Senior Companions
  • 362,355 hours of service were completed by Iowa RSVP volunteers

Continuing to support Senior Corps programs in the state of Iowa is a priority for the state commission.  Volunteer Iowa believes that RSVP provides and will continue to provide vital capacity-building services to non-profits and communities by building the infrastructure for volunteering overall. Volunteer Iowa recognizes how important it is for the state of Iowa that RSVP is well-positioned as a community resource for volunteerism and volunteer management, especially in areas where volunteer centers do not exist.

We believe that providing capacity building services is an activity that builds on RSVP Director’s skills and aligns with the current activities of programs in working with sites and partners, and will continue to position RSVP for secure funding so we can continue to serve Iowa’s communities moving forward.

Thank you to Senior Corps volunteers — and all older Americans who are making the time to volunteer — for taking the skills and wisdom you’ve learned over your lifetimes to make communities stronger!

To learn more about Volunteer Iowa’s Senior Corps RSVP grants, click here.

To learn more about Senior Corps and Senior Corps Week, click here.

Learn more about Older Americans Month here.

 

 

ASC Statement on FY18 President’s Budget

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May 24, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – America’s Service Commissions (ASC), the national association of state service commissions which leads, supports and elevates the state service network, issued a statement upon release of President Trump’s 2018 Budget.

Following is a statement by Kaira Esgate, Chief Executive Officer of America’s Service Commissions.

Yesterday’s release of the President’s FY18 Budget leaves me deeply concerned.

The plan, titled ‘A New Foundation for American Greatness’, would gut the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) along with 18 other critical agencies, shutting down any new or continued funding for its programs AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Volunteer Generation Fund. The budget, if enacted, would provide just one year of salaries and basic support for CNCS as it begins the shutdown process.

While we applaud the administration’s efforts to promote federal financial efficiency, America’s Service Commissions (ASC) believes that the proposal to shutdown CNCS and eliminate its vital programs is short-sighted, inconsistent with the President’s goals to improve American communities, and would create devastating unintended consequences for our nation.

National service (AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Volunteer Generation Fund) is a small but critical investment that saves taxpayer dollars, enhances the American economy, and grows our country’s talent pipeline through job creation and workforce development.
FY18 Budget Cover
If enacted, the President’s FY18 Budget would deny 80,000 AmeriCorps members the opportunity to serve their country, prevent 270,000 Senior Corps volunteers from providing vital service to their communities, and devastate thousands of faith-based and community organizations.

Governors alone would stand to lose $500 million in critical resources that support our nation’s veterans, schools, children, families, and faith- and community-based organizations through the elimination of 52 Governors’ state service commissions as recommended in the budget.

We believe that President Trump and Congress must fully support low-cost, high-impact domestic programs such as AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Volunteer Generation Fund. These programs represent the best and brightest aspects of our country — Americans’ commitment to give back through service, to help others less fortunate help themselves, and to solve our greatest challenges together at the local level.

As the recently enacted FY17 appropriations legislation demonstrates, we have strong bi-partisan support from Congressional leaders who believe national service is a good and cost-effective investment.

Further, ASC believes that state service commissions and national service programs can play a key role in partnering with the White House to advance domestic policy priorities such as: fighting America’s opioid epidemic, supporting veterans and military families, educating future generations from ‘cradle to career,’ and restoring critical infrastructure to communities ravaged by poverty, disaster, unemployment, and crime.

We do not support disinvestment in volunteer, community service, or national service infrastructure. We support a strong Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) agency  and, accordingly, a robust budget to support its program operations at the state and local level.

Today, we submit a letter of support to Congress from 638 Governor-appointed state leaders and service commissioners highlighting their enthusiastic, unwavering commitment to national and community service. Together, these service commissioners have seen firsthand the impact AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and programs funded by CNCS have had on their states and local communities.

Read our Commissioner Letter to Congress here.

We look forward to working with the White House and the Trump Administration to show our leaders the great value national service programs bring to American taxpayers.

–Kaira Esgate, CEO, America’s Service Commissions

 

 

Additional information and resources:
CNCS FY18 Congressional Budget Justification
President’s FY18 Budget (Released May 23, 2017)
Poll: American Voters Want National Service
Article: The Economic Value of National Service
Timeline: Eight Decades of Bipartisan Support for National Service

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About America’s Service Commissions


America’s Service Commissions is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing and promoting the 52 governor-appointed state service commissions across the United States and territories with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,110 commissioners, private citizens leading the nation’s service movement and administering 78 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. Learn more: statecommissions.org.

ASC Update: FY 2017 Omnibus Spending Bill Passed by Congress – State Commissions Receive $2.5 Million Increase

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By Tom Branen, Chief Policy Officer, America’s Service Commissions (ASC)

Yesterday, the United States Senate passed a $1.07 trillion fiscal 2017 omnibus. Leadership on both sides hailed it as a major bipartisan legislative accomplishment. On Wednesday the House approved the omnibus spending bill on a 309-118 vote. President Trump is expected to sign the measure, which passed 79 to 18. It includes more than $15 billion in new defense spending and $1.5 billion in money for U.S. border security, ahead of a deadline to keep the government open past Friday.

The legislation comprises the 11 unfinished fiscal 2017 appropriations bills, providing updated spending instructions for most of the federal government.

The omnibus provides an annualized total of $1.07 trillion in base spending for fiscal 2017, or $1.16 trillion. It includes a $15 billion increase in supplemental defense spending, about half the amount sought by President Trump for the military. The funding is designated as Overseas Contingency Operations spending, which does not count against statutory budget caps.

CNCS funding was mostly aligned with the FY 2017 Senate Markup and received a total of $1.029 Billion.

Here is the breakdown of CNCS funding:

State Commission Grants

$16,538,000.00

AmeriCorps State & National

$386,010,000.00

AmeriCorps VISTA

$92,364,000.00

AmeriCorps NCCC

$30,000,000.00

Senior Corps

$202,117,000.00

Volunteer Generation Fund

$3,800,000.00

Social Innovation Fund

$0

Innovation, Demonstration & Other

$1,200,000.00

Evaluation

$4,000,000.00

Subtotal of Operating Expenses

$736,029,000.00

National Service Trust

$206,842,000.00

Salaries and Expenses

$81,737,000.00

Office of the Inspector General

$5,250,000.00

TOTAL

$1,029,858,000.00

State Commission Grants receive a $500K increase. The Explanatory Statement (below) also directs CNCS to provide not less than $7,500,000 for training and technical assistance activities for State Commissions to expand the capacity of current and potential AmeriCorps programs, particularly in underserved areas.

With Congress directing $7.5 million for training funds to commissions and the $500,000 increase to the State Commission Grant, State Commissions received an increase of approximately $2.5 million for FY 2017 above FY 2016. The State Commission funding was the only increase CNCS received in the FY 2017 appropriations legislation.

We are incredibly grateful for the rock solid support and continued investment for service by the Congressional Appropriations Committee leadership and their staff; especially Senators Cochran, Leahy, Blunt, and Murray; and Representatives Frelinghuysen, Lowey, Cole, and DeLauro. We are also grateful to members of Congress who voted for this legislation.

Thank you to our state service commission network who worked so hard this year to educate their members of Congress on the critical need for national and community service in their states. A special thanks to the ASC Public Policy Committee who spent the past year guiding and leading ASC’s policy priorities and outreach efforts.

With FY 2017 funding secured, we all can take a deep breath for the day, but tomorrow we pivot to the uphill battle that is the FY 2018 Appropriations process.


Explanatory Statement for CNCS

CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE

AmeriCorps State and National Grants. The agreement directs the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to issue clear, extensive guidance as part oftheir fiscal year 2018 request for proposals for AmeriCorps grants outlining specifically how grantees can demonstrate and justify the need for operating funds as part of their professional corps grant.

Training and Technical Assistance. Under current law, CNCS has authority to set aside up to 2.5 percent of program funds for evaluation, training, and technical assistance. CNCS is directed to use this authority to provide not less than $7,500,000 for training and technical assistance activities for State Commissions, to expand the capacity of current and potential AmeriCorps programs, particularly in underserved areas.

Innovation, Demonstration, and Assistance Activities. The agreement does not include funding for the Social Innovation Fund.

Here is the bill language for CNCS:

CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE

OPERATING EXPENSES. For necessary expenses for the Corporation for National and Community Service (referred to in this title as CNCS to carry out the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (referred to in this title as 1973 Act) and the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (referred to in this title as 1990 Act), $736,029,000, notwithstanding sections 198B(b)(3), 198S(g), 501(a)(4)(C), and  13 501(a)(4)(F) of the 1990 Act: Provided, That of the amounts provided under this heading: (1) up to 1 percent of program grant funds may be used to defray the costs of conducting grant application reviews, including the use of outside peer reviewers and electronic management of the grants cycle; (2) $16,538,000 shall be available to provide assistance to State commissions on national and community service, under section 126(a) of the 1990 Act and notwithstanding section 501(a)(5)(B) of the 1990 Act; (3)  22 $30,000,000 shall be available to carry out subtitle E of the 1990 Act; and (4) $3,800,000 shall be available for expenses authorized under section 501(a)(4)(F) of the 1990 Act, which, notwithstanding the provisions of section 1033 shall be awarded by CNCS on a competitive basis:  Provided further, That for the purposes of carrying out the 1990 Act, satisfying the requirements in section 4 122(c)(1)(D) may include a determination of need by the local community.

PAYMENT TO THE NATIONAL SERVICE TRUST (INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS). For payment to the National Service Trust established under subtitle D of title I of the 1990 Act,  $206,842,000, to remain available until expended: Provided, That CNCS may transfer additional funds from the amount provided within Operating Expenses allocated to grants under subtitle C of title I of the 1990 Act to the National Service Trust upon determination that such transfer is necessary to support the activities of national service participants and after notice is transmitted to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate: Provided further, That amounts appropriated for or transferred to the National Service Trust may be invested under section 145(b) of the 1990 Act without regard to the requirement to apportion funds  22 under 31 U.S.C. 1513(b).

SALARIES AND EXPENSES.  For necessary expenses of administration as provided under section 501(a)(5) of the 1990 Act and under section 1034 1 504(a) of the 1973 Act, including payment of salaries, authorized travel, hire of passenger motor vehicles, the rental of conference rooms in the District of Columbia, the employment of experts and consultants authorized under 5 U.S.C. 3109, and not to exceed $2,500 for official reception and representation expenses, $81,737,000.

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL.  For necessary expenses of the Office of Inspector  General in carrying out the Inspector General Act of 1978, $5,750,000.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS.  SEC. 401. CNCS shall make any significant changes to program requirements, service delivery or policy only through public notice and comment rulemaking. For fiscal 15 year 2017, during any grant selection process, an officer or employee of CNCS shall not knowingly disclose any covered grant selection information regarding such selection, directly or indirectly, to any person other than an officer or employee of CNCS that is authorized by CNCS to receive such information.  SEC. 402. AmeriCorps programs receiving grants under the National Service Trust program shall meet an overall minimum share requirement of 24 percent for the first 3 years that they receive AmeriCorps funding, and thereafter shall meet the overall minimum share requirement as provided in section 2521.60 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations, without regard to the operating costs match requirement in section 121(e) or the member support Federal share limitations in section 140 of the 1990 Act, and subject to partial waiver consistent with section 2521.70 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations.  SEC. 403. Donations made to CNCS under section 196 of the 1990 Act for the purposes of financing programs and operations under titles I and II of the 1973  10 Act or subtitle B, C, D, or E of title I of the 1990 Act  11 shall be used to supplement and not supplant current pro- 12 grams and operations.  SEC. 404. In addition to the requirements in section  146(a) of the 1990 Act, use of an educational award for the purpose described in section 148(a)(4) shall be limited to individuals who are veterans as defined under section  17 101 of the Act.  18 SEC. 405. For the purpose of carrying out section 189D of the 1990 Act  (1) entities described in paragraph (a) of such section shall be considered qualified entities under section 3 of the National Child Protection Act of 1993 (NCPA);  (2) individuals described in such section shall be considered volunteers under section 3 of  NCPA; and (3) State Commissions on National and Community Service established pursuant to section 178  6 of the 1990 Act, are authorized to receive criminal history record information, consistent with Public Law 92544.

New Toolkit Highlights How Governors Are Using Service Years to Meet State Needs

At the National Governors Association winter meeting, General Stanley McChrystal presented an exciting new resource on behalf of America’s Service Commissions, Service Year Alliance, and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The theme: expanding service in states!

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The Expanding Service Years in States Toolkit highlights ways in which governors, state legislators, and other elected officials can embrace service years as a strategy to address the needs of their communities.

The toolkit outlines ways in which governors and other elected officials have already leveraged federal as well as state, local, and private resources to expand paid, full-time service opportunities, known as “service years.”  Through service year programs like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and YouthBuild, young adults are gaining essential workforce and leadership skills as they tackle pressing problems in their communities.

As a joint effort between ASC, Service Year Alliance, and CNCS, we hope this toolkit will serve as an inspiration and guide for state leaders to expand service year opportunities through diverse funding sources to meet pressing economic and social needs.

“At a time of social need and fiscal constraint, governors are increasingly turning to AmeriCorps and other service year programs as a smart, cost-effective strategy to address challenges in their states,” said Kim Mansaray, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “As the federal agency for service and volunteering, CNCS is pleased to join Service Year Alliance and America’s Service Commissions to share the many creative ways governors are using service years to improve lives and communities.”

In the words of ASC CEO Kaira Esgate, “Over the course of the past 20 years, state service commissions have partnered with governors and other elected officials to demonstrate that service is a cost-effective strategy to address both emerging and persistent community needs in education, health and human needs, public safety, disaster preparedness and response, as well as environmental stewardship. Through the creation of service years via programs such as AmeriCorps, elected officials and state service commissions provide real-life educational and professional development opportunities for the next generation of leaders in their states.”

The examples shared in this toolkit serve as concrete examples of how elected officials, no matter what their political affiliation, have advanced service strategies in partnership with their state service commissions. ASC is pleased to join the Service Year Alliance and CNCS in highlighting the work of state service commissions to expand service years so that every young person who wishes to do so has the opportunity to serve in a meaningful and impactful manner.

“States have long played a leadership role in national service for good reasons,” notes Shirley Sagawa, President & CEO of Service Year Alliance. “Despite decades of success, national service remains an underutilized strategy. This document offers examples of ways that governors and other state leaders have innovated through service, tapping a variety of funding streams to make a service year experience a powerful option for young adults in their states.”

Download and view the full toolkit here.

Maryland Volunteer Generation Fund boosts impact of volunteers in addressing critical community needs

Maryland VGF

This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we feature stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

MARYLAND. The Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (GOSV), the state service commission in the “Old Line State,” is a critical part of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives. Through the use of federal dollars, it funds 19 AmeriCorps State programs in 2016-2017 program year to support disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families in Maryland.

Established in 1993, the office advocates for effective volunteer program management and recognizes volunteer service across the state on behalf of the Governor of Maryland. Each year, over 200,000 Maryland volunteers are recognized by the Governor’s Office through activities and services provided by the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism.

The Maryland GOSV also funds ten volunteer connector organizations and Maryland Volunteer Centers through the Volunteer Generation Fund to increase their ability to recruit and retain volunteers in diverse opportunities, as well as increase the organizations’ usage of effective volunteer management practices. The ten Volunteer Generation Fund grantees then utilize these funds to boost the impact of volunteers in addressing critical community needs.

Below is one story written by Maryland Commissioner Krista Gilmore of Cecil County Department of Community Services, who serves as the volunteer and community resource coordinator and has seen firsthand the impact VGF funds are having on Cecil County:

 

“Reflections on Cecil Cares and Two Exceptional Community Volunteers”

By Krista Gilmore, Commissioner, Maryland Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism

Each September, Volunteer Cecil sponsors Cecil Cares, which is a countywide day of service. We asked two of the members of the Cecil Cares Planning Team to share their thoughts on their involvement with the 2016 – and now 2017 – project, and here is what they had to say:

“I would like to start by saying how hard it is to put on paper my excitement for Cecil Cares 2016. I am very passionate about giving back and helping our community. To be a member of the planning team is a huge honor. Last year I, along with other volunteers, helped out at The Fair Hill Nature Center. We worked hard raking, planting, painting, and I had the pleasure of meeting new and wonderful people of our beautiful county (all while helping spruce up the gorgeous Fair Hill Nature Center!). I am very excited for Cecil Cares 2017!! I believe it is a great way to bring our community together for one day to give back. We worked hard, laughed and joked. I went home feeling great not just for doing a good deed but because of all the wonderful new neighbors that I met on that day!”

“Thanks for a successful Cecil Cares Project. As a unique community service project for nonprofits, volunteers and businesses, the work day was exceptional. First, I enjoyed networking, brainstorming and working with a variety of organizations throughout Cecil County who organized, promoted and secured the projects for our day of service. Next, partnering with businesses, religious organizations, schools, county government and nonprofit groups provided a connection for everyone. Finally, as a member of the Cecil Cares committee, a board member of the Fair Hill Nature Center, and a member of St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church, I had a front row seat regarding the preparation of this event. The church was a sponsor for one of the projects, and provided a community of volunteers to participate during our day of service to Cecil County. I can’t wait until next year, as we grow this legacy throughout Cecil County!”

In addition to our work on Cecil Cares, one of our goals for Volunteer Cecil is to celebrate volunteerism, and to tell the stories that are often overlooked. We look for people and events to showcase even when they are not included in our formal VGF reports. Two local residents were recently honored for their service: Ralph Young was inducted into the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, and Wilma Clay celebrated 25 years of service as a Home Delivered Meal volunteer! We are proud to know them [and] to highlight their service.

To learn more about Maryland’s Volunteer Generation Fund initiative and programming, visit gosv.maryland.gov/our-volunteer-generation-fund-grantees/.

Volunteer Mississippi engages 96,000 in volunteer service thanks to Volunteer Generation Fund

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

MISSISSIPPI. The mission of Volunteer Mississippi, the state commission on service and volunteerism in the Magnolia State, is to to engage and support Mississippians of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities. Established in 1994 as the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS), Volunteer Mississippi also administers the state’s volunteer center network with support from the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF), helping mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Last year, thanks to Volunteer Generation Fund support from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Mississippi Volunteer Center Network recruited or managed an overall total of 96,550 individual and group volunteers that served 875,246 hours for a wide range of causes throughout the state. Of the total number of volunteers, 51,981 were new volunteers who served 472,271 hours.

In addition, capacity building trainings were offered to 1,362 nonprofit participants — resulting in 167 nonprofit partners implementing 3 or more effective volunteer management practices.  The largest number of volunteers were active with programs that served Children and Family Services & Advocacy, Education, Hunger and Homelessness, and Disaster Services. Volunteer Centers hosted food, clothing, necessities and toy drives, and recruited volunteers to feed the homeless, build Habitat houses, read to children, and clean up parks and waterways. Volunteer Centers planned events and engaged 11,708 volunteers in projects for Family Volunteer Day in November; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in January; National Volunteer Week and Global Youth Service Day in April; 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance in September and Make a Difference Day in October, in addition to regional days of service like Day of Caring, Alternative Spring Break, the Big Event, and The Cotton Festival.

This year, 2017 is starting off strong with more than 31,000 volunteer engagements reported – 1,642 of those from Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service educational events, parades, breakfasts and community projects. Volunteer Centers around the state will be recognizing volunteers in the month of April with celebration dinners and lunches, and press conferences. Several Global Youth Service Day events are scheduled, with Volunteer Starkville as the lead agency this year.

To learn more about Volunteer Mississippi’s VGF program and subgrantees, visit volunteermississippi.org/.

Virginia’s Volunteer Generation Fund programs give back, help others from ‘cradle to career’

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

VIRGINIA. The mission of Virginia Service, the state commission on service and volunteerism in the “Old Dominion,” is to strengthen communities by inspiring Virginians to actively engage, volunteer, and serve. Virginia Service also administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to organizations that mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Virginia is now in its third year of programming through the Volunteer Generation Fund.  The VGF program builds volunteer capacity in Virginia through local subgrantees who then work to increase the number of active volunteers and volunteer hours, as well as to strengthen volunteer organizations by incorporating effective volunteer management practices into their program operations.  The biggest overall impacts to date have been increased volunteer capacity throughout the state, improvement in organizations’ volunteer management practices, and heightened awareness of and appreciation for volunteers and the value they bring to an organization and the community.

The Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) in Virginia is comprised of four subgrantees in southwest, northern and central Virginia:

  1. The Appalachian Community Action and Development Agency focuses on volunteer activities for a mentoring program for high school seniors and an early childhood reading program for children of families utilizing local food pantries.
  2. Community Residences supports volunteers who provide assistance to individuals with mental health needs and intellectual disabilities through community housing property management, direct service, community engagement, and volunteer program administration and recruitment.
  3. The Council on Community Services is implementing a school-based volunteer program in the Roanoke Valley –  with the intention of replicating their model in other localities.
  4. The United Way of Southwest Virginia supports the agency’s “cradle to career” focus and provides tutoring for elementary school students who need assistance with reading and/or math skills; enhances middle school, high school and post-secondary achievement among local youth; and assists local agencies with the recruitment and retention of volunteers.
The VGF program also supports special large-scale volunteer day events. In January, Virginia’s Volunteer Generation Fund programs honored MLK Day with service events and projects designed to impact their communties. In Roanoke, the Council of Community Services teamed up with The Advancement Foundation, a local AmeriCorps program, to host a financial literacy workshop. In Scott and Lee counties, Appalachian Community Action and Development’s VGF program collected personal hygiene items and donated to low income individuals and families. In Northern Virginia, Community Residences, Inc., partnered with the Target location in Burke to visit one of their residences to clean up and visit with residents. Volunteers also worked with the Tysons Corner Maggiano’s to prepare meals for home residents and teach them cooking skills. In Abingdon, the United Way of Southwest Virginia recruited volunteers to participate in a celebration that included a discussion on race relations in Southwest Virginia, followed by a unity march. Volunteers also painted and repaired the Charles Wesley Church parsonage. Click here to read the Bristol Herald Courier’s newspaper article about the MLK Day service projects.

In February, the United Way of Southwest Virginia became a certifying organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Organizations and individuals in Southwest Virginia can now nominate outstanding volunteers for this award which was created by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

In March, the United Way of Southwest Virginia celebrated the companies and individuals whose contributions to the organization in 2016 had a direct impact on the lives of working families in Southwest Virginia at the 2017 Impact Awards in Abingdon. The awards acknowledged volunteers, individuals, employee groups and corporations who lent their outstanding support to volunteer efforts, the campaign, and impact initiatives. The Volunteer of the Year in Education award went to Kent Berryman for his volunteer service with Smart Beginnings, an United Way program that works to improve access and quality of service to families with small children. The Volunteer of the Year in Financial Stability was presented to Virginia Cooperative Extension – Southwest District for their regional efforts in preparing students for their future with initiatives such as reality stores and career fairs. The Volunteer of the Year in Health award recipient was Chris Owens who has been instrumental in her leadership with the Healthy Community Action Team (HCAT) in Smyth County. Click here to view a full listing of the award recipients.

To learn more about Virginia Service’s VGF program and subgrantees, visit virginiaservice.virginia.gov/.

 

Volunteer Generation Fund makes skill-based volunteering a pathway to employment for Floridians

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

FLORIDA. The mission of Volunteer Florida, the state service commission in the Sunshine State, is to strengthen communities through national service, fostering volunteerism, and leveraging resources. Volunteer Florida also administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to organizations that mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Volunteer Florida’s Volunteer Generation Fund is a unique skills-based volunteer program that builds capacity for nonprofits and service organizations and uses volunteerism as a pathway to work. VGF funding helps organizations to more effectively recruit, manage, and retain skills-based volunteers to serve in high value volunteer assignments. Skills-based volunteering leverages the experience, talents and education of volunteers such as accountants, attorneys, and IT professionals and matches them with the needs of nonprofits. Sub-grantees also receive comprehensive training, funding for program enhancements and ongoing technical assistance, and coaching to establish or strengthen their skills-based volunteer program.

In 2016, Volunteer Florida invested $212,500 in grants for 20 Florida nonprofits. These 20 Volunteer Generation Fund sub-grantees recruited 13,507 skills based volunteers who served 166,080 hours – a value of over $3.6 million.

VF is especially proud that nine of the 20 grantees opted into the Volunteer Florida RFP priority area of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) programs and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

Six STEM based grantees recruit volunteers to promote and engage students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers and engage STEM professionals as volunteers. Those organizations include Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County, BRACE, Growing Hope Foundation, Junior Achievement of North Florida, Parker Street Ministries, and the Tallahassee Museum.

My Brother’s Keeper initiative was launched to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. Through this initiative, local governments, business communities, and foundations aim to connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to secure employment and post-secondary education. The Volunteer Florida VGF sub-grantees supporting the My Brother’s Keeper initiative include Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County, Catholic Volunteers in Florida, Chapman Partnership, Family Support Services of North Florida, and Parker Street Ministries.

Impact Stories:

Catholic Volunteers in Florida Incorporated

Catholic Volunteers in Florida Inc. provides support to the St. Vincent de Paul Re-Entry Project, which improve job access and economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals across the state of Florida. The Vincentian Re-Entry Project connects people across differences in race, income, age, and life experience to make a positive difference in addressing public policy and structural change that allows greater opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals. All volunteer activities associated with the St. Vincent de Paul ReEntry Project relate to the My Brothers Keeper Initiative with the focus on increasing job opportunities for young men of color to enter the workforce, specifically men of color who are formerly incarcerated and face enormous barriers to securing a job because of their conviction. Catholic Volunteers in Florida Inc. engaged 237 skills based volunteers contributing 2,336 hours of service in 2016.

The Lightner Museum of Hobbies

The Lightner Museum is a nonprofit museum in the historic downtown district of St. Augustine. Skills-based volunteers will create public learning experiences in each of the Museum’s gallery spaces and support education initiatives. Volunteers are trained and provide visitors with history and information on our collections. They also lead school tours and adult tours. Volunteers contribute to our online blog, social media and write a quarterly newsletter. Through the Volunteer Generation Fund, The Lightner Museum has worked on modernizing their volunteer program. They’ve expanded volunteer descriptions and the application process, along with updating their volunteer policies and procedures. Many of these activities were also facilitated through the skills based volunteers who work in the office. The Lightner Museum of Hobbies engaged 154 skills based volunteers contributing 4,182 hours of service.

To learn more about Volunteer Florida’s VGF program and subgrantees, visit volunteerflorida.org/grants/#vgf.

Volunteer Generation Fund makes Community Radio Possible in King County, Washington through Volunteer Manager Corps (VMC)

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

WASHINGTON. The mission of Serve Washington, the state service commission in the Evergreen State, is to advance national service, volunteerism and civic engagement to improve lives; expand opportunity to meet the local critical needs of residents of Washington; and strengthen community capacity while creating healthy and resilient communities. Serve Washington administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to two major entities that mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities: 501 Commons (a non-profit organization) and a statewide association called Volunteer Centers of Washington (VCW).  The VCW provides mini-grants to volunteer centers in Washington State with VGF funds.

501 Commons uses VGF funds to add a group of low-power FM (LPFM) King County radio stations to their Volunteer Manager Corps (VMC) Program.  Through these nonprofit, commercial-free media outlets, anyone can become part of the voice of their surrounding area, whether that takes the form of starting conversations, sharing health and emergency response information or featuring musicians, artists and other forms of local culture.

Volunteer committees are the building blocks of the community radio model, however, these stations do not currently have the internal resources necessary to fully involve volunteers in the support of their mission. The VMC program helps foster the development and growth of these stations by creating a volunteer management toolkit that lays the ground work for their success.

VMC members help develop the infrastructure necessary for the stations to effectively recruit, engage and retain high-value volunteers. These key volunteers work behind the scenes with 7 stations to create a volunteer management toolkit including:
Position descriptions for essential volunteer roles
An outline of a volunteer orientation
A volunteer handbook
A volunteer screening process
A volunteer feedback survey

LPFM Background:
Each of these stations is a member of the Puget Sound Community Radio Cohort (PSCRC), the nation’s first alliance for nonprofit radio station applicants to pool resources and foster a learning community.  The goal of the LPFM Accelerator and consulting engagement with 501 Commons is to build organizational capacity with a specific focus on fundraising, volunteer management and equitable community outreach that informs, engages and mirrors the LPFM Accelerator’s target audiences.

The LPFM Accelerator Stakeholders are:
Debra Twersky, 4Culture
Debra Webb, 501 Commons
Sabrina Roach, Brown Paper Tickets
Ernesto Aguilar, National Federation of Community Broadcasters
Antoine Heywood, Alliance for Community Media and PhillyCAM (Public Access Center with LPFM)

LPFM Accelerator Participants include:
Earth on the Air Radio
Fulcrum Community Radio
Hollow Earth Radio
Magnuson Radio
One America
Valley Radio
Rainier Valley Radio

The work is further strengthened by the contributions of Racial Equity Advisors:
Sahar Fathi, City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
Vicky Yuki and Delia Burke, Seattle IT’s Community Technology Program
Diana Falchuck, Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative Strategic Advisor
Valerie Wonder and Davida Ingram, Seattle Public Library

You can read more about LPFM here.

To learn more about Serve Washington and its programs, visit servewashington.wa.gov/.

Volunteer Generation Fund Makes an Impact on Mentoring, Youth in Tennessee

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

TENNESSEE. The mission of Volunteer Tennessee, the state service commission in the Volunteer state, is to encourage volunteerism and community service. Volunteer Tennessee administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to different community organizations throughout the state who mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Since 2014, Volunteer Tennessee has led the Tennessee Volunteer Generation Fund Coalition in an effort to increase volunteer recruitment and expand the use of volunteers to address education challenges in Tennessee.  In 2017, Coalition members Hands On Nashville, the Tennessee Board of Regents, the United Way of Greater Chattanooga, the United Way of Greater Knoxville, United Way of Williamson County, and Volunteer Memphis will recruit 8,000 volunteers and assist 40 organizations in implementing effective practices to build capacity in the areas of volunteer recruitment and volunteer management.

Hands On Nashville (HON): Through youth programming, HON will provide 6,500 opportunities to engage youth, the majority of whom are economically disadvantaged, in 15,000 hours of education/civic action during out-of-school time.

Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR): The Tennessee Board of Regents will advance the goals of Tennessee’s Promise, a program that allows high school graduates to attend TN community colleges for free in exchange for 8 hours of community service before college and 8 hours each semester of enrollment. TBR will work with member institutions to develop a central service data warehouse. TBR will mobilize 40 Tennessee Promise scholars to address education challenges and assist 19 partner institutions with the implementation of volunteer management best practices.

United Way of Greater Chattanooga (UWGC): The UWGC’s Chattanooga Literacy Initiative Mentor Volunteer Program (MVP) gives students across Hamilton County access to free reading and mentoring services at locations in neighborhoods with the greatest need for additional educational services.

United Way of Greater Knoxville (UWGK): UWGK will increase volunteer engagement in Community Schools in Knox County. The percentage of 3rd, 5th and 8th graders proficient or advanced in reading/language arts will increase by 5% annually.

United Way of Williamson County (UWWC): UWWC works with volunteers through their Raise Your Hand program to tutor 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade children in reading and math skills in Williamson County.  100% of the students in the program are expected to increase their Standardized Testing and Reporting Scores after one year, and 77% will read at grade level by the time they have completed one year in the program.

Volunteer Memphis: Volunteer Memphis will enlist 300 new volunteers who will perform 4,500 hours of service; engage parents, community and faith leaders as volunteers in urban schools and neighborhood centers; and promote the FAFSA Prep Project to improve post-secondary enrollment rates in Memphis and Shelby County.

The success of United Way of Greater Chattanooga’s (UWGC) mentoring program is but one example of the significant impact of VGF funds. The VGF grant is helping UWGC to succeed in its role as the city’s convener around the mentoring initiative. Community collaboration adds value by providing advocacy through a strong “common voice” and raising public awareness of the need for mentoring. Mentoring is too big, risky and complex for one organization alone. Shared learning and best practices can more easily transfer across partnering organizations in a way that avoids past pitfalls and accelerates effectiveness. Creating a network of effective support for those committed to providing sustained mentoring opportunities for Chattanooga youth will increase endurance. Strategic coordination and planning opportunities assists in filling gaps, avoiding duplication, and addressing and avoiding potential conflict between those involved in mentoring initiatives. UWGC is currently working with many collaborative partners to develop a strategic plan for the mentoring initiative. Partners include local schools (both private and public); local foundations; youth nonprofits and organizations; the City of Chattanooga; local businesses; and faith organizations. The goal of the initiative is to ensure that every child in Hamilton County who needs a mentor is connected to a mentor and Chattanooga is established as a national “benchmark” city for effectively mentoring its children and youth, which supports the Chattanooga 2.0 goals. Through these partnerships, more than 700 mentor volunteers stand ready to be trained and connect to youth in the city.

As we prepare to wrap up the current three year grant cycle, Volunteer Tennessee is excited to see how the Coalition continues to increase the number of volunteers in the field of education, advancing our mission of encouraging volunteerism and community service across Tennessee.

To learn more about Volunteer Tennessee and its programs, visit volunteertennessee.net.

April is National Volunteer Month | Volunteer Generation Fund Makes an Impact on Hunger, Health in Iowa

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

IOWA. The mission of Volunteer Iowa, the state service commission in the Hawkeye state, is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Volunteer Iowa administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to 5 different community organizations throughout the state who mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

One such VGF subgrantee, the United Way of Wapello County Volunteer Center in Ottumwa, has mobilized more than 100 unique volunteers in 600 hours of service to address the issues of hunger and access to healthy food in their community. The organization hosts a food pantry garden sponsored by corporations and community groups. The garden is also supported with skill-based volunteer positions including Spanish language interpreters, Master Gardeners, local engineers, and soil quality experts.

Volunteers help build and repair raised beds, till the soil, plant the produce, regularly mow, weed, pick produce, and tend bee hives. Volunteers also constructed an arbor and bench for visitors to the garden. The over 4,000 pounds of produce grown during this year, and was donated to the local food bank and meal sites. Several neighborhood-based community gardens were organized, where local residents raised their own garden produce.  Volunteers express satisfaction in getting outside and giving back, and community members benefit from healthy fresh produce.

During this time period they also hosted four gardening classes led by skill-based volunteers covering the subjects of beekeeping, starting seeds, fertilizing, and making pollinator seed bombs. The classes were free of charge and open to the public.

To learn more about Volunteer Iowa and its programs, visit volunteeriowa.org/icvs-programs.

ASC Statement on President’s FY18 Budget Blueprint

March 16, 2017

By Kaira Esgate, Chief Executive Officer, ASC

Click here to view in PDF.

WASHINGTON, DC – America’s Service Commissions (ASC), the national association of state service commissions which leads, supports and elevates the state service network, issued a statement upon release of President Trump’s 2018 Budget today. Following is a statement by Kaira Esgate, Chief Executive Officer of America’s Service Commissions.

America’s Service Commissions appreciates President Trump’s desire to “reprioritize Federal spending so that it advances the safety and security of the American people.”

However, while we applaud the administration’s efforts to ensure both America’s safety and promote federal financial efficiency, ASC believes that the proposal to eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and its vital programs would create devastating unintended consequences for our nation.

If enacted, the President’s America First Budget Blueprint would deny 80,000 AmeriCorps members the opportunity to serve their country, prevent 270,000 Senior Corps members from providing vital service to their communities, and devastate more than 1,100 faith-based and community organizations providing critical community servicASC Infographices. Also impacted are the 52 Governor-appointed state service commissions administering AmeriCorps and the Volunteer Generation Fund at the local and state level.

To make America truly great, we believe that President Trump and Congress need to fully support domestic community service programs such as AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Volunteer Generation Fund. These programs represent the best and brightest aspects of our country — Americans’ commitment to give back through service, to help others less fortunate help themselves, and to solve our greatest challenges together and the local community level.

Furthermore, ASC believes that AmeriCorps and Senior Corps could be essential low-cost strategies to address several of President Trump’s key priorities as outlined in the Budget Blueprint, including:

  •  Addressing violent crime;
  •  Reducing opioid abuse; and
  •  Putting America First by keeping more of America’s hard-earned tax dollars here at home.

As budget negotiations are explored, we feel it should be done cautiously to ensure and protect the valuable domestic AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Volunteer Generation Fund programming that has been built over the last 40 years with strong bipartisan support.

We do not support disinvestment in volunteer, community service, or national service infrastructure. We support a strong Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) agency and, accordingly, a robust budget to support its program operations at the state and local level.

As more information is released, America’s Service Commissions will work to better understand the specifics of what is being proposed and any impacts on the streams of service.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & RESOURCES:

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About America’s Service Commissions
America’s Service Commissions is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing and promoting the 52 governor-appointed state service commissions across the United States and territories with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,110 commissioners, private citizens leading the nation’s service movement and administering 78 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. Learn more: www.statecommissions.org.

 

President’s FY 2018 Budget Blueprint Released – Includes Recommendation to Eliminate CNCS

By Tom Branen, Chief Policy Officer, America’s Service Commissions (ASC)

America First Budget Blueprint - release March 16, 2017

President Trump’s FY 2018 America First Budget Blueprint was released this morning at 7:00 AM Eastern Time. Here is a link to the budget blueprint:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf.

Unfortunately, it recommends the elimination of of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) along with a number of federal agencies and programs.

From the budget blueprint:

The Budget also proposes to eliminate funding for other independent agencies, including: the African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

This blueprint is a policy statement from the administration and is not a binding budget. Congress has the final say on the annual federal appropriations and we look forward to continuing to educate Congress on the critical need and value of CNCS and its programs to our nation.

Remember this budget release is the first step in a very long and at times complicated process. Therefore, don’t agonize…organize.

More analysis and updates to come.

ASC is monitoring the release of the President’s FY 2018 budget and the ongoing FY 2017 appropriations situation and will update you as negotiations continue.

For more information, contact:

Tom Branen

America’s Service Commissions

455 Massachusetts Ave, NW Suite 153

Washington, DC 20001

202-207-5389

TBranen@asc-online.org

Public Policy Update – FY 2018 President’s Budget Priorities to be Released Thursday, March 16

By Tom Branen, Chief Policy Officer, America’s Service Commissions (ASC)

whitehouse

This is a big week, the President is expected to release an abbreviated version of his FY 2018 budget proposal and the expectation is that it will propose a major shakeup in the size and scope of the federal government. As this moves forward, please keep in mind that this budget is a proposal and that Congress actually appropriates annual federal spending.

This update provides a preview of the President’s FY 2018 budget release and the latest on the FY 2017 appropriations process.

FY 2018 President’s Budget Release

An abbreviated version of President Trump’s FY 2018 budget proposal is scheduled to be released this Thursday, March 16th.  Reportedly, if enacted, it would cut or eliminate numerous federal programs expediting a historic contraction of the federal workforce. This would be the first time the government has executed cuts of this magnitude and all at once since the drawdown following World War II, according to experts. Administration officials have signaled for weeks that large cuts will be part of the budget. Reportedly, the budget prioritizes the military and homeland security while slashing many other areas, including housing, foreign assistance, environmental programs, public broadcasting and research.

The New York Times in February reported that the Corporation for National and Community Service was on a list of federal agencies and programs that were under consideration for elimination.  The proposed cuts could lead to layoffs among federal workers, but it is unclear what the precise impact on many agencies might be because the departments could choose to implement reductions in a variety of ways. Administration officials have also stressed that discussions are ongoing between budget officials and agencies, and that the size of the budget cuts remains fluid. Moreover, the cuts cannot take effect unless they are authorized by Congress, which could prove difficult. Lawmakers routinely rebuffed budget requests from President Barack Obama, leading instead to protracted negotiations between both sides. In fact, most Presidential budgets are not funded as presented and many times are considered to be policy priority statements rather than true budget blueprints. Democrats have vowed to fight these proposals, and some Republicans have also expressed unease at the size of the reductions.

The federal government is projected to spend $4.091 trillion next year, with roughly two-thirds of that going mostly toward Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, poverty assistance and interest payments on the government debt. This spending is expected to be left untouched in the budget proposal. What President Trump will propose is changing the rest of the budget, known as discretionary spending, which is authorized each year by Congress. Slightly more than half of this remaining money goes to the military, and the rest is spread across agencies that operate things like the national service, education, diplomacy, housing, transportation and law enforcement. Among the expected proposals are an increase in military spending of $54 billion, more money to start building a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico, and the creation of new initiatives that expand access to charter schools and other educational programs. To offset that new money, the President will propose steep cuts across numerous other agencies. Although final numbers remain in flux, there are reports that the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget alone would be cut by $6 billion, or 14 percent. Additionally, preliminary budget documents have also shown that Trump advisers have also looked at cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s staff by about 20 percent and tightening the Commerce Department’s budget by about 18 percent. A more detailed budget proposal is expected to be released in early May by the Trump Administration.

FY 2017 Appropriations Update

Senate Democratic leaders warned Monday in a letter sent to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran that proposed funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could cause a partial government shutdown this spring Senate Democrats said that they will help pass spending bills if those bills adhere to the topline spending levels written in an October 2015 bipartisan budget agreement, if any increases in defense spending are matched by equal increases in non-defense, and if poison pill riders are avoided. They also said funding in fiscal 2017 for a border wall would be inappropriate.

President Trump is expected to submit to Congress a supplemental spending request that could propose adding as much as $60 billion in defense funds in fiscal 2017, and a border wall supplemental spending request to begin construction of a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. A standoff could lead to major government funding problems in late April, when a fiscal 2017 continuing resolution runs out. Most of the government is operating under the CR, including the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). According to non-partisan experts, the proposed new border wall could cost as much as $25 billion. The Trump administration has not yet sent the Hill the supplemental spending requests, even though fiscal 2017 is almost halfway over and lawmakers have begun moving forward with bicameral, bipartisan negotiations on the remaining bills.While the wrap-up of fiscal 2017 appropriations is not set in stone, the House is expected to pass 10 remaining domestic spending bills in an omnibus-style package. The Defense spending bill passed last week and is holding in the Senate, where the outlook is much more uncertain for fiscal 2017.The supplemental spending requests would most likely be packaged with the remaining fiscal 2017 spending bills instead of moving through Congress as individual spending bills. Republicans have a narrow 52-seat majority, meaning they need Democratic votes to reach the 60-vote threshold required to move past procedural votes and keep the government funded past April 28. If an agreement is not made before then, another short-term CR may be considered or the federal government could face another partial shutdown.The prevailing sense on Capitol Hill is that appropriators ould like to move forward the bipartisan FY 2017 omnibus bill  that was negotiated late last year and then pivot to working on the FY 2018 spending bill.

ASC is monitoring the release of the President’s FY 2018 budget and the ongoing FY 2017 appropriations situation and will update you as negotiations continue.

For more information, contact:

Tom Branen

America’s Service Commissions

455 Massachusetts Ave, NW Suite 153

Washington, DC 20001

202-207-5389

TBranen@asc-online.org