The AmeriCorps program, which places full-time volunteers at the PNA and community organizations across the country, could become a casualty of federal budget cuts. The budget passed by the House of Representatives cuts all funding to the Corporation for National Service, eliminating the AmeriCorps program and other service programs for seniors and youth.
The PNA currently has AmeriCorps members in three positions: an outreach coordinator, a senior center programming coordinator, and a sustainability coordinator. Members in these positions and other positions in the past have done community work worth far more than their cost to the PNA or the AmeriCorps program.
AmeriCorps members at other organizations serve diverse community needs like tutoring and mentoring disadvantaged youth, emergency response, literacy work, improving health services, protecting and restoring the environment, managing or operating after-school programs, and building organizational capacity.
At a time when cutting funding to many social service programs is inevitable, the AmeriCorps program is a good investment that leverages volunteer time and community funds far beyond its cost. AmeriCorps also provides meaningful and career-building work in a poor economy, particularly for young people who have been hit hard by persistent unemployment.
While the House budget will not be passed as it stands, any of its funding cuts will be up for negotiation. Now is the time to send the message that AmeriCorps is a good investment in our communities, and cutting funding to the program is short-sighted.
Here are some ways you can speak out:
• Sign this petition set up by AmeriCorps alums, telling your Senators not to vote to eliminate the program.
• Invite your elected representatives to visit a program that relies on AmeriCorps workers.
• Call you Senators and tell them how you feel. Both of the above websites include some ideas for what to say when you call.
• Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, stressing what AmeriCorps means to the community.