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


March 23, 2018

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

Original Post:

March 21, 2018

Washington, DC

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

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

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

Here is the breakdown of CNCS funding:

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

Total CNCS Funding:    $1,063,958,000

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Tom Branen
Chief Policy Officer
America’s Service Commissions

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

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New program development initiative will expand afterschool opportunities through AmeriCorps

For Immediate Release

Contact: Emily Steinberg, (202) 813-0807

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

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

The eight states selected to receive this funding include:

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on this initiative, visit

# # #

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

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

FY 2018 Appropriations Update


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.

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:

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


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)


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


Celebrating our volunteers

By Rachel Bruns

National Volunteer Week (April 12-18) encourages us to celebrate the service of volunteers and recognize the contributions volunteers make in meeting the social mission of our organizations.

ASC Board Members and staff during the 2014 December Board Retreat.
ASC Board Members and staff during the 2014 December Board Retreat.

As a membership organization, America’s Service Commissions (ASC) is dependent on numerous people that provide their time and expertise to make our work possible. I’m guilty of often not thinking of these people as “volunteers”. I think this happens, because their time benefiting ASC is so connected to their work, it’s not black and white whether their time with ASC is for work or as a volunteer. When I think about it, this is what makes me even more excited about our work and role as a membership organization. We get to help people do great work in local communities, while learning and growing to advance the field as a whole. It truly embodies the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats”.

By volunteering with ASC, countless individuals are doing their part to lift the entire field of national service and volunteering, which in both the short and long term benefit their state and communities. To use one of my favorite cliches, it’s a win-win.

I’m guilty of letting the day-to-day challenges of our work get me down and I occassionaly have the thoughts “why am I dealing with this?”. Reflecting on the tremendous engagement and support from our membership and volunteers, provides a much more positive response to that question.

Thanks to the countless individuals who have volunteered with America’s Service Commissions, past and present. The list of board members, committee chairs, and committee members is endless. We truly are “uniting states in service”. Thanks to our network for modeling the service we encourage in others.



Graceland University AmeriCorps Youth Launch

Logo for AmeriCorps Iowa Graceland University AmeriCorps Youth LaunchThe goal of the Graceland University’s AmeriCorps Youth Launch (AYL) is to answer the old African proverb, “How are the children,” with the answer of “the children are well.” To do this, AYL provides positive youth development activities that build a youth-serving network within a six county region in south-central Iowa. Through the involvement and support of community partners, the program assists students in achieving educational success and building developmental assets. AmeriCorps members serve in school-based and/or community based host sites, and within these sites, they develop and strengthen programs that promote positive youth development through the five promises: caring adults, safe places to learn and develop, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to help others.

The program has a lasting impact on program members and their community. An example of one of the impacts is from the last program year, where a delegation of youth from Lamoni, IA community attended the Governor’s summit. Upon return, they decided to host their own version of this event at their school. The students led groups and planning committees with the help of the AYL program, and through their determination, the school was able to execute their first ever Bullying Prevention Summit with multiple workshops lead by community leaders, professionals, caring adults, and youth. The success of this has lead to the the continuation of this summit this year in other schools of the south central Iowa region.

In 2011, an evaluation showed of the people surveyed, 80% rated the program as good and/or excellent at “strengthening community” and almost 95% felt the program builds positive assets within the youth served and that the program is effective at impacting youth positively. The secrets to this success include an active alumni group, the support of all the involved partners, and the networking and collaboration that creates a win-win-win situation. All of these play a role in the success of this program.

To read more about this program, see pages 30–31 of Transforming Communities through Service.

Featured National Service Trainer: McMahon Consulting Group

McMahon Consulting Group

Commissions forge local solutions to local problems. McMahon Consulting Group embraces the power of state service commissions to create, promote, support and monitor service and volunteer opportunities. MCG helps commissions generate outside support and do more with less. Their team has 10 years experience serving as commission staff, and 20 years running state and national AmeriCorps programs. They are National Service Engineers: From training and coaching programs to streamlining commission systems, they know their stuff.

Training Topics:

Community Development Civic Leadership
Member Orientation & Training Life After AmeriCorps
Member Recruitment & Retention Program Management & Training
Program Sustainability, Growth or Replication CNCS National Performance Measures
Supervisory & Site Management Excellence Performance Impact/Measurement
Program Management & Compliance Program Evaluation
Disaster Preparedness, Recovery & Response Commission Administrative Standards
Grant Writing, Editing, Feedback Public Policy for Commissioners
Legislative Education for Commissioners Supervisory Skills
Efficiency Program Promotion


Cole McMahon
5 Melvin Ave
Catonsville, MD 21228-4425
Ph: (410) 504-9005
Twitter: @McMahonSolution

Meet ASC Board Member: Nicky Goren

NG Headshot Small %28Kolb%29Nicola Goren is president of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation and in 2013 was named as one of Washingtonian’s Most Powerful Women. Nicky  previously worked at the Corporation for National and Community Service in roles including Acting CEO, Chief of Staff, and Associate General Counsel. Nicky joined the ASC Board of Directors in 2013. 
1) How did you get to where you are today? Honestly, by always working hard, by being open to opportunity, by being willing to step outside my comfort zone, and by being in the right place at the right time!
2) What is the best advice you’ve received? The best advice I ever received was from my mentor, and former General Counsel at CNCS Frank Trinity — always be current, authentic, and direct.  Those words have served me well.
3) What keeps you motivated? Feeling like I’m part of a team of people who are working together to make positive change in our communities.
4) In one word what would you describe as your greatest strength? Bridge-building
5) How do you prepare yourself when you know something is going to be controversial or challenging? My legal training has led me to conclude that you can never be over-prepared.  When dealing with a controversial or challenging issue or situation, I try to look at the issue from all sides and anticipate roadblocks, reactions, and where other people might be coming from, and try to be prepared to both listen and respond appropriately.

2013 Outstanding Commission Executive Director

Audrey%27s Headshot %283%29

Audrey Suker, ServeMinnesota

2013 Innovation & Leadership Awards –  Outstanding Commission Executive Director
Nominated by ServeMinnesota

“Audrey Suker is an inspiration to all of us that lead State Service Commissions. She maximizes the power of national service and state commissions to leverage resources for the academic success of children every day.”
— Emily Haber, Chief Executive Officer, Massachusetts Service Alliance

Audrey Suker is the CEO for ServeMinnesota, Minnesota’s state commission. She has held this position for 14 years and espouses innovation and impact as her guiding principles. Previously, Suker was Vocational Services Director at Courage Center, a nonprofit for people with disabilities, and Rehabilitation Field Office Manager for the State of Minnesota. She received a Masters in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from St. Cloud University and her Bachelors in Sociology from the University of Minnesota-Morris.

Under Audrey’s entrepreneurial leadership, ServeMinnesota has more than tripled the number of AmeriCorps positions available to Minnesotans and increased state support for AmeriCorps from $900,000 annually to $5 million and private support from $75,000 to $2.5 million. Her vision for leveraging the power of AmeriCorps to solve unsolved problems led to the creation of Minnesota Reading Corps, the largest state AmeriCorps program nationally and a statewide initiative to ensure that all children are reading proficiently by 3rd grade. By strategically using resources to address issues, her work with the state legislature, corporations and foundations is a model for other commissions. To maximize the potential of AmeriCorps resources, she orchestrated the organization’s transition to an independent nonprofit in 2002.

With this new nimble structure the organization has achieved a leadership position nationally, ranking 3rd in competitive federal funding among all 50 states. In 2002, Audrey partnered with a state legislator to address Minnesota’s growing literacy deficiency and created Minnesota Reading Corps, a statewide early literacy program changing academic outcomes for thousands of students. It’s grown from a small pilot serving 500 children nine years ago with 24 members to reaching 30,000 students with more than 1,000 members in nearly 700 sites across Minnesota. Through research-based literacy strategies, AmeriCorps members tutor students, age 3 to grade 3, to ensure they reach reading proficiency by the end of third grade – a critical benchmark in academic success. Its proven model has been validated by the U.S. Department of Education. She has developed strong partnerships with Target, several local United Ways and other state commissions to replicate the program in six other states.

“Minnesota Reading Corps is an essential component of our strategy for accelerating learning. Their track record of improving literacy outcomes for struggling readers creates the foundation that is absolutely necessary for lifelong learning.” – Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner

“My son Jack started Minnesota Reading Corps a couple months back. He went from a grumbling, unhappy reader to an enthusiastic, confident reader in a matter of a few months. He worked very hard, and couldn’t have done it without the help and wonderful attitudes of [his teacher and Reading Corps tutor]. He loves school and is performing beyond what we had hoped for. What a monumental year 1st grade has turned out to be. We are SO proud of him, and as important– he is extremely proud of himself.”— Parent of a Reading Corps participant, Cottage Grove, Minnesota

Audrey is very appreciative of leaders in the field who helped the Minnesota commission get off the ground and clearly sees it as her role to help other commissions in their growth and development. She believes that as stewards of AmeriCorps resources, state service commissions are positioned to accelerate the scaling of effective programs and they have the leadership to help bring private resources to the table. Audrey serves on the ASC board and has been gratified for their enthusiastic participation in helping other commissions connect and partner on effective programs.