September 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm #141066
Did you see the article last week by CNN political analyst David Gergen and City Year CEO Michael Brown regarding AmeriCorps as today’s version of FDR’s Civilian Conversation Corps that put so many people back to work during the Great Depression? Well, here we are in a tricky jobs environment and Congress is looking for programs to cut (thanks for giving them some feedback on that)…and AmeriCorps (one of my favorite programs right up there with Peace Corps and Teach for America) is on the chopping block. Gergen and Brown explain:
The bad news is that AmeriCorps is under the knife. In reducing spending — a clear imperative for the country — some cuts are more cruel than others. This past year, spending was reduced by $23 million and contrary to earlier promises, the number of members went down, not up. Now the danger arises that coming budget cuts will go even deeper. That would be a grave mistake.
In a dark irony, these cuts are coming just when interest is exploding. This past year, some 536,000 young people applied for jobs in AmeriCorps, a 67% increase since 2008. Three quarters were turned away, as were half of the community-based organizations that applied for the services of AmeriCorps members.
Gergen and Brown go on to give several reasons why AmeriCorps should not be cut:
- it’s a bipartisan program inspired by George H.W. Bush, created by Clinton and expanded by George W. Bush and President Obama.
- cuts to these programs could kill the idealism of the younger generation
- young, returning military veterans could form the backbone of the “next greatest generation” and Americorps gives them a grea place to plug in
- nonprofits are also seeing a flood of new applicants they have to turn away
- unemployment is striking America’s young people even harder than adults. Among those ages 16-24, unemployment stands at 17.7%, nearly twice the national average.
So I’d like to marshall the crowd forces here and come up with several more good reasons not to cut AmeriCorps. What I’d really like to hear is:
How has Americorps positively impacted your community?
If you served with AmeriCorps, tell your story – the projects that transformed neighborhoods or the people whose lives were altered for the better because of AmeriCorps.
September 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm #141068
It’s really a shame that AmeriCorps is on the chopping block, I am a former AmeriCorps VISTA. I worked for Syracuse Habitat for Humanity, and it was a remarkable experience. It set the stage for me to go back and get my Masters in Public Administration. I have a lot of incredible experiences. My project was developing their marketing and outreach program, very little had been done so I was given the chance to develop and implement an entire program. I got them rolling with a new website, social media plan, outreach strategies and worked on a handful of other really cool development projects. My favorite memories are the times spent with homeowners and learning their stories. It was an inspiring place to be – I’ll be pretty upset if AmeriCorps gets let go, it’s an important program for many communities. It was a fantastic experience for me.
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