On April 21, 2009, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law. Here is a summary.
Reprinted from the Chronicle of Philanthropy
Would incrementally increase the number of participants in this national-service program—from 75,000 this year to 250,000 in 2017. In fiscal year 2010, which begins in October, the number would be 88,000. Most AmeriCorps money goes to nonprofit groups and public agencies, which recruit and supervise volunteers. Participants get a modest stipend and an education grant upon completing their service (increased to $5,350 by the Serve America Act).
AmeriCorps would focus much of its work in four areas:
- The Clean Energy Service Corps would help low-income families make their homes energy efficient, teach schoolchildren about energy efficiency, develop recycling programs, and help rehabilitate state and national parks and other public lands.
- The Education Corps would provide tutoring, mentoring, and other services to elementary and secondary schools.
- The Healthy Futures Corps would help low-income families get health-care services and information about disease prevention, as well as provide health services in rural areas, promote healthy living, and fight childhood obesity.
- The Veterans Corps would provide educational, employment, housing, and other services to veterans and military families.
Promoting Community and Public Service
A new Encore Fellowship program would offer people age 55 and older one-year stipends to allow them to work at a nonprofit organization to get experience so they can move into part-time or full-time nonprofit or government work. The Silver Scholarship Grant Program would provide money to nonprofit groups to operate programs that give people age 55 and older $1,000 education grants if they perform 350 hours of community-service work a year. The grant is transferable to children or grandchildren. Budget for the two programs: $12 million a year.
Within 180 days after the Serve America Act is signed, the Corporation for National and Community Service would be expected to start a formal effort to encourage Americans to volunteer, enlist in national-service programs, or take part-time or full-time nonprofit or government jobs. It may also organize activities to observe September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance to commemorate the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Measuring Civic Participation
The Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship, a group chartered by Congress in 1953 to track civic participation, would once a year measure "civic health indicators" like the number of people voting, volunteering, and participating in civic groups and religious organizations. It would also monitor the amount of charitable giving, interest in nonprofit and government jobs, and "social enterprise and innovation."
Direct Aid to Nonprofit Groups
Financing Nonprofit Innovation
Would create a Social Innovation Funds pilot program to provide money for social entrepreneurs and nonprofit groups that are developing innovative and effective solutions to national and local challenges. Budget: $50 million in fiscal year 2010, rising to $100 million by 2014.
Would provide grants to nonprofit organizations and state national-service commissions through a Volunteer Generation Fund to develop programs to help local groups recruit, manage, and support volunteers. Budget: $50 million in fiscal year 2010, rising to $100 million by 2014.
Management Aid for Charities
A Nonprofit Capacity Building Program would provide $5 million a year for five years to help small and medium-size charities get training in financial planning, grant-proposal writing, and complying with federal tax laws.
Aid for Colleges
Would designate up to 25 colleges or universities a year to be eligible for federal grants to develop programs that combine education with community service or to distribute information about such programs to other institutions that want to copy them. Budget: $7 million a year.
© 2009, Chronicle of Philanthropy
. Reprinted from the April 9, 2009, issue; reprinted with permission.