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April 24, 2011: International News From the Field

on Sun, 04/24/2011 - 00:00

24 April: Last chance to advocate for FY11 volunteering and service-learning!  Let the White House and Congress know your disappointment that most anything that is not stipended service has been slashed from the Corporation for National and Community Service budget.

Enormous thanks to Paula J. Beugen, Minnesota colleague who has long served as our field’s legislative watchdog, for the following summary of what is happening on the Hill. A federal government shutdown was averted on April 8, 2011 when a seventh short-term continuing resolution was passed by Congress. Subsequently, a FY11 spending plan was passed in time for the April 15 continuing resolution end-date. FY11 ends September 30, 2011.

According to an April 12, 2011 article by Suzanne Perry, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, "In addition to specific funding cuts, all non-defense programs would be trimmed across the board by 0.2 percent." Later in the article Perry wrote, "The budget for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which manages AmeriCorps, would fall to $1.08-billion, down from $1.15-billion in 2010."

While just about all the buzz focuses on the future of AmeriCorps, the Corporation for National and Community Service incorporates much more than stipended service.  And, in fact, the programs supporting volunteering and service-learning are the most at risk right now.  Following is some information about what is contained in the FY11 spending plan subject to any clarification that may be forthcoming:

  • Learn and Serve America is completely eliminated at a $39.5-million reduction in a program that involves more than one million young people. Efforts are underway to let the White House and Congress know that this is a huge loss and that a way must be found to preserve the Learn and Serve America program into the future.
  • $12.6-million is cut from RSVP, one of the Senior Corps programs, which is a Domestic Volunteer Service Act program with a very long history that "engages more than 400,000 people ages 55 and older in a diverse range of volunteer activities."
  • Zero-dollars were included in the President’s original FY11 budget request for the Nonprofit Capacity Building Program and zero-dollars were included in the President’s FY12 budget request for this program. The FY10 appropriation was one-million-dollars (20 percent of Congress’ original authorization amount of $5-million for FY10).
  • Preliminary information yet-to-be-confirmed as of this notice is that the Volunteer Generation Fund would continue at nearly $4-million for FY11 as it was in FY10.  The President’s original budget request for FY11 for the Volunteer Generation Fund was $10-million and the President’s FY 12 request was $5-million. Keep in mind that Congress authorized this program through the 2009 Serve America Act at $50-million FY10, $60-million for FY11 and $70-million for FY12. 
  • AmeriCorps is reduced by $22.5-million for FY11. (AmeriCorps State and National Grants were funded at $350 million.)

Clearly, volunteer programs, service-learning and capacity building for nonprofit organizations are not currently high priorities in the Corporation for National and Community Service budget.  Anyone who wants to express views about “implementation” of the FY11 budget must do so right away (the numbers already are set.)  Tell your local impact stories about how volunteering is key to the social safety net and the quality of life in communities.

And, it is time to get moving on communication about the FY12 budget. Congress has started to discuss FY12 budget plans. Word is that the Corporation for National and Community Service and its programs are on the table again!

If you want to check references, here you are:

Notes: The $1.08-billion figure quoted in the Chronicle article is rounded. The actual number according to the Corporation for National and Community Service is $1.077 – Also, see the above links where information can be verified for accuracy. It is always important to double-check information with official sources.

The authorization numbers are from the text of the 2009 Serve America Act. Search THOMAS and 111th Congress and Serve America Act. The information is on pages 114-118 and page 121. The authorizations are on page 121 and not in the earlier text for the Volunteer Generation Fund.

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