What is a service year?
A service year is a paid opportunity to develop real-world skills through hands-on service. This life-changing experience allows young people to gain valuable skills and experience, while also making an impact in ways that can truly transform a community.
Strong support for national service programs like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and YouthBuild from the federal government helps match that from other sectors. Federal support is especially important when using service years to address national priorities with evidence-based programs; offering extra support in order to give opportunity youth the chance to serve; and supporting grassroots solutions to local challenges in high-poverty areas.
State of Play
In early July, the House Labor Health and Human Services subcommittee voted to approve level funding for AmeriCorps and YouthBuild and rejected President Trump’s FY18 proposal to eliminate AmeriCorps. While this is a big victory in this budget fight, we still have a long road ahead of us. Unfortunately, the House subcommittee that oversees funding for the Peace Corps accepted the President’s recommendation of a $12 million cut — the largest cut to the Peace Corps by a president in over 40 years. We’ll be working against this cut with allies in the House and Senate and will continue to push to expand funding for national service in the FY18 budget.
Top Line Talking Points
AmeriCorps has strong bipartisan support. There is significant support for national service — 78% of Republicans support it; 84% of Independents support it; 90% of Democrats support it; and 80% of Millennials want to do it.
This program touches a lot of people — it’s the power behind Habitat for Humanity, puts inner-city youth on the path to employment, and is core to hundreds of charter schools. More than one million Americans have served in this program. They will mobilize if this elimination proposal goes forward.
AmeriCorps is actually designed in a way that Republicans should and do like. Every dollar leverages more than a dollar of private support. It saves money by activating citizens to fill roles and reduces over-reliance on professionals. It leverages volunteers — most AmeriCorps members recruit and supervise a dozen or more citizen volunteers. It provides student aid to the middle class in return for their service. It’s not a free ride or a hand out, but AmeriCorps members receive an education award that can be used to pay for college or pay off student loans.
We should be expanding AmeriCorps, not eliminating it.
- Service Year Alliance Policy 2-Pager
- National Service Backgrounder and Talking Points
- National Service Gets Things Done
- Millennials Support for National Service: Snapshot and Polling