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/.

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

Wisconsin HealthCorps: Ensuring Healthy Futures Across the State

WI Health Corps collage

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/.

Wisconsin HealthCorps: Ensuring Healthy Futures Across the State

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.

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

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

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

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

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

AmeriCorps Programs in Tennessee Showcase Economic Opportunity

ac_0The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recently released its 2016 Public Engagement, Outreach, and Education Plan. As part of this plan, they have designated monthly themes throughout the year, centered on CNCS focus areas.

January’s theme focuses on Economic Opportunity. CNCS and Volunteer Tennessee are dedicated to creating economic opportunity through national service to improve the financial well-being and security of economically disadvantaged individuals. You can join the conversation on social media by using #Opportunity.

How are AmeriCorps programs in Tennessee using resources in their areas to improve the lives of these individuals and empower them in their communities? 

  • The Appalachia CARES (Community, Action, Responsibility, Education, and Service) AmeriCorps program at Clinch-Powell Resource Conservation & Development Council works with individuals in East Tennessee to secure affordable and safe housing in the region. AmeriCorps members engage economically disadvantaged individuals in service-learning trainings and programs, empowering these individuals to create positive change in their communities. Throughout this program year, Appalachia CARES seeks to provide housing services and training to more than 2,000 people in Tennessee. 

    AmeriCorps members lead projects on teaching basic financial management skills and household budgeting, while other members focus their efforts around home repairs. These members incorporate energy efficiency into home repairs, performing weatherization projects and teaching weatherization and basic home repair courses to the community.

    One challenge that the AmeriCorps members address is the limited housing and rental market in rural areas of Tennessee. A large percentage of the homes in areas served by Appalachia CARES were built over 50 years ago, meaning most of the available housing requires safety and energy efficiency upgrades. Despite this, the training provided by AmeriCorps members empowers those who receive assistance. They now have the power to make a difference, not only in their own lives, but also in the lives of their fellow neighbors and community members.

 

  • AmeriCorps members at Impact America – Tennessee are gearing up for a busy tax season in Memphis with their SaveFirst initiative. To combat the unethical practices and price gouging of predatory tax preparers, Impact America – Tennessee is partnering with four well-established community partners in low-income communities to provide free, high quality Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services. Members assist families that are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal program that will supplement the incomes of more than 180,000 families in Memphis alone.

    Jacqueline Cotter, a current AmeriCorps member with Impact America – Tennessee, gave one person’s account in preparing their taxes: after having a poor experience with a tax preparer, a man was charged more than $300 for a simple return. The following year, he benefitted from Impact America’s tax preparation services, where he left in less than an hour having paid nothing to have his taxes filed.

    AmeriCorps members become certified at the advanced IRS level, training to become site coordinators at the four tax sites in Memphis. Throughout the fall, they have recruited more than 90 college students from Rhodes College, Christian Brothers University, and the University of Memphis to be trained and supervised as tax preparers. The sites, which opened in January, anticipate completing and filing 1,200 tax returns this season, with the potential to service up to 60 families in one day.

 

  • AJ Stephens asked himself the same question many high school graduates do: “What’s my next step in life?” After attending an AmeriCorps presentation at his high school, he was accepted to be a member of the CAC AmeriCorps program with the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee. AJ joined the CAC’s Conservation Crew, a program designed to give applicants without a degree or professional experience an opportunity to engage in a national service program.

    During his year with the group, AJ was able to remove thousands of pounds of litter from dump sites, provide historic cabin restoration, maintain trails, and natural pond restoration. While the Conservation Crew has since dissolved, the legacy created by these young AmeriCorps members has resulted in a lasting impact, resulting in full-time AmeriCorps members continuing to serve at these sites today. The final members of this group have since gone on to a second year of service, went on to college, or gained employment.

    AJ’s efforts impressed the staff at the Ijams Nature Center so much that they requested he serve a second AmeriCorps term at the organization. He serves in their park management department, maintaining the trails and leading construction projects in order for visitors to have a safe, hands-on experience. He cites that the biggest challenge – having to learn how to do tasks that he’s never done before – is also his biggest success. Through his two terms with AmeriCorps, AJ has gained invaluable skills that he will be able to carry with him after he completes his service.

    What’s AJ’s next step? He has started working with CAC AmeriCorps staff to determine how to best use the two Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards he has earned during his service. AJ hopes to attend college with a focus on the environment.

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    UnknownVolunteer Tennessee is a 25 member bipartisan board appointed by the Governor to encourage volunteerism and community service. Volunteer Tennessee pursues its mission through administration of AmeriCorps grants, training and collaborations and coalitions with public and private organizations interested in volunteerism and service. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

AmeriCorps Programs in Tennessee Showcase Economic Opportunity

AmeriCorps members assist elderly, disabled live independently

CommCaresAmeriCorps Community Cares is an AmeriCorps State program, of Tennessee’s Community Assistance Corporation (TCAC).  Community Cares receives generous support from Volunteer Tennessee, public housing authorities, nonprofits and faith-based agencies to provide home and other supportive services to low-income frail elderly, challenged and disabled citizens in seventeen counties. Members assist frail seniors and persons with disabilities by direct, in-home assistance so that the residents can remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible. In 2004, Community Cares was nationally recognized by Innovations in Civic Participation, AARP and the Office on Aging, as a model senior care program. Yearly, AmeriCorps members are placed at service locations and assist 26,000 clients with a wide array of supportive services that include home and health, transportation, cognitive activities, environmental education and disaster relief.

As of September 30, 2013, less than 1% (17 seniors) of the 109,415 seniors served entered a nursing home, and were not able to remain living independently. As of September 30, 2013, Community Cares identified 39,204 economically disadvantaged, 3,576 medically underserved and 9,126 uninsured seniors. All AmeriCorps members are required to become certified in an American Red Cross cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid training course. Most of the AmeriCorps members re-enroll for an additional term of service with the Community Cares program. The Community Cares retention rate is 97.7%.

Read more on pg. 56 of Transforming Communities Through Service.

AmeriCorps members assist elderly, disabled live independently