AmeriCorps Week Spotlights 540,000 Alums’ Impact and Sustained Service
Thursday, May 8, 2008
AmeriCorps Week Spotlights 540,000 Alums’ Impact and Sustained Service
Featuring Groundbreaking Research, New Grants, Recruitment Blitzes, & Events across the U.S.
Washington, D.C. - The coast-to-coast recognition of AmeriCorps Week, from May 11-18, will spotlight how America’s social entrepreneurs at the national, state and local levels, are tackling high-school dropouts, prisoner re-entry, illiteracy, and other national challenges in partnership with the Federal program that engages Americans in intense citizen service.
Plans for AmeriCorps week include hundreds of service projects and recruitment events, the release of a major and rigorous longitudinal study of the impact of AmeriCorps service eight years later; the announcement of new recipients of AmeriCorps competitive funding, and participation of Federal, state and local officials as well as nonprofit leaders.
“Across the country, AmeriCorps members are helping communities fight poverty, mentor youth, recover from disasters, raise graduation rates, build homes, and tackle our toughest social challenges,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, including state and national grants, VISTA, and NCCC. “What they get done during their service is extraordinary; and their engagement in their communities in their years after AmeriCorps is even more inspiring. We want AmeriCorps Week to inspire millions more Americans to serve, whether through AmeriCorps or Peace Corps or volunteering in your neighborhood.”
In the past 15 years, more than 540,000 men and women have taken AmeriCorps’s pledge to “get things done for America,” providing more than 705 million hours of service, mobilizing tens of millions of volunteers, and improving the lives of countless citizens.
During AmeriCorps Week, AmeriCorps and its nonprofit and community partners will thank AmeriCorps members and alumni for the impact they’ve had, acknowledge the many contributions of public and private community groups to the program, and urge more Americans of all ages and backgrounds to sign up for a year of service in AmeriCorps.
Next Tuesday the Corporation will release a major new longitudinal study about AmeriCorps’ long-term impacts on members at a policy forum at the Brookings Institute. The study looked at the impacts of AmeriCorps eight years later on members’ level of civic engagement, career choices, and other areas and finds AmeriCorps builds engaged citizens who are active in their communities and who are significantly more likely to go into public service careers in government and nonprofit sector.
The week will be marked by hundreds of events across the country, kicking off with a trail restoration project at Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre and including a 700-AmeriCorps member Habitat for Humanity blitz build in the Gulf Coast and a massive closing ceremony in Miami bringing together more than 600 AmeriCorps members to plant simultaneously 1,000 trees to help restore a historic beach park. An AmeriCorps Week website, located at AmeriCorpsWeek.gov, features a database of events, news, stories, and information about how to join. Some of the highlights:
· AmeriCorps Week kicks off at the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater outside Denver, with hundreds AmeriCorps members from Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Wyoming helping to rehabilitate trails at this historic park built by the CCC, followed by a ceremony featuring Colorado Lieutenant Governor Barbara O’Brien, Director of USA Freedom Corps Henry Lozano, Corporation for National and Community Service COO Liz Seale, presentation of the Governor’s Service Awards, and comedy from Josh Blue, disability inclusion advocate and winner of NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2006.
· 700 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Director Kristin McSwain will join thousands of volunteers from around the world to build dozens of homes for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
· Tens of millions of dollars in new AmeriCorps state and national grants will be announced next Monday, infusing some of America’s most entrepreneurial organizations with thousands of members to help them expand their reach and impact.
· The second annual AmeriCorps Video Contest was launched to seek 60-second videos from AmeriCorps members and alums for use in recruitment efforts, and public voting on the 35 entries takes place at www.americorpscontest.org from May 11-18.
· Many AmeriCorps Week events will pay tribute to the extraordinary contributions of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
· AmeriCorps Week’s closing ceremony in Miami will bring together more than 600 AmeriCorps members and volunteers to plant 1,000 trees simultaneously, helping restore historic Virginia Key Beach Park so it can reopen to the public. Following the project will be a Finale Rally with speakers including Corporation CEO David Eisner, Apprentice winner and President’s Council and Service and Civic Participation member Kelly Perdew, music, and an AmeriCorps Recommitment Ceremony.
While community service is the focus of many events, others are aimed at thanking AmeriCorps members for their service or recruiting others to volunteer in their communities. Dozens of governors are issuing AmeriCorps Week proclamations, and AmeriCorps Week resolutions are pending in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Hundreds of AmeriCorps members will make presentations to schools and community groups, elected officials and other leaders will participate in “AmeriCorps-for-a-Day” events, and several professional baseball teams will host AmeriCorps Appreciation nights.
AmeriCorps was established in 1993 as a way for Americans to give back to their communities and country and earn money for college in return. President Bush embraced AmeriCorps and expanded the program by 50 percent to support 75,000 AmeriCorps positions annually. Today AmeriCorps enjoys widespread bipartisan support in Congress and among the nation’s Governors, and all three presidential candidates have embraced national service and have proposals to strengthen and expand it.
AmeriCorps members serve with more than 4,100 groups each year, helping organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Clubs, the American Red Cross and numerous other nonprofit and faith-based groups expand their reach and better meet their mission. AmeriCorps members recruit volunteers, expand services, build capacity, develop new partnerships, and create innovative and sustainable programs. Last year AmeriCorps members mobilized or managed 1.7 million volunteers for the organizations they serve.
“AmeriCorps members are building stronger, healthier, and safer communities, and improving the lives of millions of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Kristin McSwain, AmeriCorps Director. McSwain highlighted a key goal of the week – recruiting the next class of AmeriCorps members. “Graduation season is the perfect time to shine the spotlight on AmeriCorps. Whether you are graduating, taking time off, or changing careers, AmeriCorps is a great way to get skills and college aid while making a difference for your community.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year the Corporation engages more than four million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service to meet local needs through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs. For more information, visit www.NationalService.gov.