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Service Year Alliance Celebrates the Successful Community Challenge Grant Match of our Four Awardees

With support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Service Year Alliance awarded four $25,000 grants in November 2021 to communities using national service to address local needs. The goal of these grants was to help new and existing community collaboratives develop sustainable local funding as they use national service as a strategy to address local needs. The communities had until April 1, 2022, to attract this 1:1 match. 

Six months later, we are excited to announce that all awardees have successfully secured their match. We are truly inspired by the communities that took on this challenge and leveraged the opportunity to approach new funders, strengthen past relationships, and bring new resources to support service year programs in their communities. 

The match funding, in total, more than doubles the initial challenge grant from the Mott Foundation and brings six additional funders to the table who are investing in the power of place-based national service to strengthen communities. Because of this infusion of financial support, communities have the resources to fully execute their projects and provide better support to corps members and communities across the nation.

Service Year Alliance Celebrates the Successful Community Challenge Grant Match of our Four Awardees
Service Year Alliance Celebrates the Successful Community Challenge Grant Match of our Four Awardees

Service Year Alliance Applauds President Biden’s Decision to Nominate Carol Spahn as Director of the Peace Corps

Service Year Alliance released a statement today praising President Biden’s decision to nominate Carol Spahn to serve as the Director of the Peace Corps:

“Service Year Alliance applauds President Biden’s decision to nominate Carol Spahn to lead the Peace Corps, following her 14 month tenure as Acting Director where she successfully steered the agency through challenging waters during the pandemic and managed the recent return of volunteers to the field,” said Kristen Bennett, Chief Strategy Officer of Service Year Alliance. “Spahn has extensive experience in international development and a solid track record of leadership within the Peace Corps, stemming from her own service in Romania. She is a shining example of how service years can inspire and motivate a lifetime of public service, having risen through the ranks at the agency, serving both as Country Director in Malawi as well as Chief of Operations for the Africa region, prior to being named Acting Director. We are confident in her ability to manage the successful return of Peace Corps volunteers to countries across the globe in the coming months, and we applaud her continued emphasis on the intercultural bridge building role that Peace Corps volunteers play overseas. We would urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to take her nomination up without delay.”

Service Year Alliance Applauds President Biden’s Decision to Nominate Carol Spahn as Director of the Peace Corps
Service Year Alliance Applauds President Biden’s Decision to Nominate Carol Spahn as Director of the Peace Corps

Service Year Alliance’s Statement on President Biden’s FY23 Budget Proposal

“Over the past two years, AmeriCorps members have stepped up to the plate, supporting public health outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic, fighting catastrophic wildfires and standing up recovery efforts to natural disasters, and helping students get back on track as schools reopened. Service Year Alliance is grateful to the Biden Harris Administration for their recognition of the value of national service in the President’s FY23 budget, which proposes investing $1.34 billion in AmeriCorps — a 16% increase above last year’s funding level. The President’s budget also opens the door to making national service more equitable by committing to increasing corps member benefits as well as allowing DACA recipients to participate in AmeriCorps. 

Service Year Alliance’s Statement on President Biden’s FY23 Budget Proposal
Service Year Alliance’s Statement on President Biden’s FY23 Budget Proposal

Service Year Alliance Celebrates the Retirement of Mary Ellen Isaacs of AmeriCorps Central Texas

Service Year Alliance is proud to celebrate the incredible Mary Ellen Isaacs, the brainchild of AmeriCorps Central Texas, the Service Year Alliance Central Texas Impact Community. For the last twenty years, Mary Ellen has been serving as the Executive Director of Literacy First, setting early elementary students up for success. With her retirement this month, we reached out to AmeriCorps programs in Austin to get a better sense of the impact she’s made and how she made this nationally-recognized model come to life. 

In 2015, Mary Ellen reached out to other AmeriCorps grantees in Austin hoping that deeper collaboration would help them better support current members and expand their reach to more local talent. It all started with the idea that when AmeriCorps staff come together and explore what is possible, there will be better outcomes across corps members, staff, and the community. Mary Ellen was the catalyst and the sustained energy behind the collective work. She has continued to be instrumental in supporting the now ten programs, from seeking funding for the collaborative, leading strategic planning to support the work over time, and solving national service’s most significant barriers. 

Service Year Alliance Celebrates the Retirement of Mary Ellen Isaacs of AmeriCorps Central Texas
Service Year Alliance Celebrates the Retirement of Mary Ellen Isaacs of AmeriCorps Central Texas

Kilmer, Fitzpatrick Introduce Legislation to Close the Digital Equity Gap, Expand Access to IT Jobs

Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) introduced the IT Service Corps Act, bipartisan legislation to support local digital equity initiatives while ensuring more people can gain experience to access jobs in the information technology (IT) sector. The IT Service Corps Act will establish IT Service Corps Volunteers focused on digital equity projects within AmeriCorps’ existing volunteer programming opportunities—ensuring that folks can have equitable opportunity to access valuable IT experience, while also supporting digital equity and literacy projects that bridge digital divides in underserved communities.

 

Kilmer, Fitzpatrick Introduce Legislation to Close the Digital Equity Gap, Expand Access to IT Jobs
Kilmer, Fitzpatrick Introduce Legislation to Close the Digital Equity Gap, Expand Access to IT Jobs

City of Philadelphia: MOCEVS announces plans to launch AmeriCorps Emergency Fund and Support Services project

The Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service (MOCEVS) which, co-leads the National Service Task Force and Service Year Impact Community in the city with PennSERVE, the state service commission, is developing an AmeriCorps Emergency Fund that will support the emergency needs of AmeriCorps members serving with Philadelphia-based programs. Through several donations and grants, the AmeriCorps Emergency Fund is currently set to launch with $120,000 available to support local members, but MOCEVS and the National Service Task Force hope to continue to grow this amount through raising additional funds.

It is expected that the first round of emergency funds will be distributed to members in the Summer of 2022.

City of Philadelphia: MOCEVS announces plans to launch AmeriCorps Emergency Fund and Support Services project
City of Philadelphia: MOCEVS announces plans to launch AmeriCorps Emergency Fund and Support Services project

Service Year Alliance released the following statement in response to the FY22 Omnibus Spending Bill

Service Year Alliance released the following statement in response to the FY22 Omnibus Spending Bill: 

Service Year Alliance is grateful to congressional leadership for their continued support of and investment in national service  critical programming which meets urgent community needs, builds civic renewal, and prepares young Americans for next steps in their professional journey. This fiscal year’s modest increase in appropriations to both AmeriCorps (+$30M) and YouthBuild (+$2M) will allow more young Americans to serve in tangible ways over the coming year, helping communities recover from the pandemic, return to in-person school, and respond to natural disasters. Through FY22 funding, Peace Corps volunteers will also be returning to in-person service in countries across the globe. President Biden and members of the National Service Caucus, chaired by Reps. Matsui and Price, and Sens. Cassidy and Coons, should be commended for their support of national service, on the heels of historic increases provided through the American Rescue Plan last year.

Service Year Alliance released the following statement in response to the FY22 Omnibus Spending Bill
Service Year Alliance released the following statement in response to the FY22 Omnibus Spending Bill

Rep. Kim Introduces Package of Legislation to Supercharge National Service

Today, at the conclusion of Peace Corps Week – a celebration of the creation of the Peace Corps by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 – Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) introduced a package of legislation aimed at supercharging national service and encouraging more Americans to engage in service of all forms in their communities.

“Throughout American history, ordinary people have stepped up to accomplish extraordinary things in service to our country. From those serving soup and planting victory gardens, to volunteer first responders spending their nights in the back of an ambulance, to the millions who joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, rebuilding our country after the Great Depression, Americans have always served one another, and I’m calling on us to recommit ourselves to doing it again,” said Congressman Kim. “With this legislative package, I want to jumpstart and supercharge national service, incentivizing and opening up more opportunities for Americans to serve at home and abroad. I firmly believe that if we want to heal the divides we see in our country, recommitting ourselves to caring for one another through acts of service is a great place to start.”

Rep. Kim Introduces Package of Legislation to Supercharge National Service
Rep. Kim Introduces Package of Legislation to Supercharge National Service

9 Democrats, 9 Republicans Introduce Legislation to Reduce Polarization and Support Community Bridgebuilding

Today, nine Republicans and nine Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Building Civic Bridges Act - bipartisan legislation to empower communities to tackle sources of division while assisting local civic and community organizations with ongoing efforts to address contentious issues and ultimately, bridge divides.

According to an NBC News poll conducted in January 2022, 70 percent of Americans agree with the statement that “America has become so polarized that it can no longer solve the major issues facing the country — and that those differences will only continue to grow” – up from 45 percent in 2010. The increase in polarization is prompting serious doubts about whether American democracy is under threat. That same NBC News poll showed that 76 percent of Americans — including 7 in 10 Democrats, Republicans, and independents — “believe there is a threat to democracy and majority rule in this country.”

9 Democrats, 9 Republicans Introduce Legislation to Reduce Polarization and Support Community Bridgebuilding
9 Democrats, 9 Republicans Introduce Legislation to Reduce Polarization and Support Community Bridgebuilding

Fulcrum: Returning to our common values through national service

Vice President Harris has been widely criticized for her assessment that “our democracy” presented one of the biggest threats to national security. Perhaps the vice president was more correct than the critics are giving her credit for, but the threat she identified (state laws with the proffered goal of ballot integrity) does nothing to address another insidious harm to democracy demonstrated over the last 20 years.

This past Sept. 11 marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that resulted in almost 3,000 deaths and injuries to several thousand more. Our response to those attacks ushered in the longest uninterrupted period of combat operations in the nation’s history. Yet, although the 9/11 attacks affronted all Americans, only a small percentage of them have sought military service since that tragic day. But beyond the aggressive exercise of presidential war powers across at least four administrations and decades of congressional acquiescence, the people of the United States must also bear some responsibility for their inaction.

Fulcrum: Returning to our common values through national service
Fulcrum: Returning to our common values through national service
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