Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, giving rise to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and with it, the AmeriCorps program. After just two decades of action, over 900,000 men and women have provided critical services to nearly five million people a year in communities across the country under the banner of the AmeriCorps program.
AmeriCorps volunteers make daily contributions to 70,000 communities throughout the country, impacting the lives of millions of families. The 80,000 full time members of the program drive a volunteer force in the millions, helping our military families, providing supplemental education opportunities, assisting in finding shelter for the homeless, and rebuilding communities after disasters. This is a program our country needs and they have been delivering on our investment for two decades.
There was a time when volunteer service like this was seen a worthy and honorable opportunity. However, there is a growing tendency within Congress to scapegoat programs that assist the needy in the name of deficit reduction. Sadly, AmeriCorps is yet another victim of this defeatist mindset.
Last year, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee funded AmeriCorps programs, through the CNCS, at an amount 20 percent less than sequestration levels for the program. This is not the investment AmeriCorps deserves and does a disservice to the good work the program and its volunteers perform. AmeriCorps has consistently shown that its return on investment is nearly fourfold. It is a program the American people need, one that helps the neediest and most deserving among us, and should be funded as such.
I am proud of my record in support of AmeriCorps and all the CNCS programs and will continue to do all I can to ensure AmeriCorps receives the funds it needs to continue helping American communities. As we prepare to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of this fantastic community service program and the individuals who have given their time to make it a success, let’s ask ourselves how we can do more to help our neighbors with the spirit and passion of AmeriCorps.