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


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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

 

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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.

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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