|Sign a letter in support of the President’s FY12 budget proposal for the Corporation for National and Community Service
Please note, you are signing as the CEO or Executive Director of your organization, not as an individual. Please ensure that the leader of your organization is aware of this signature.
Dear Members of the Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Subcommittee:
As your Subcommittee begins work on the fiscal year 2012 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bill, we urge you to support President Obama’s budget request for the Corporation for National and Community Service, $1.26 billion. At a time when Americans face mounting challenges made even more difficult by the economy, unprecedented natural disasters in the South and Midwest, and an increasingly divisive public discourse, it is vital that Congress provides funding for the Corporation’s cost-effective public private partnerships that bring ordinary citizens together to confront the critical problems taxing our nation.
Just over two years ago, in a moment of collaboration and cooperation, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act was passed by Congress with strong support from both parties. With the passage of the Act, bipartisan majorities in Congress made a promise of investment in America by authorizing the largest expansion of national service programs since the Great Depression. The legislation recognized that service isn’t secondary to achieving national priorities; it’s essential to achieving them. Now, when Americans need it most, we call on Congress to deliver on the promises embodied in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.
The Corporation is the largest grantmaker in support of service and volunteering and it oversees Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, VISTA, NCCC, Learn and Serve America, the Volunteer Generation Fund and the Social Innovation Fund. Funding for the Corporation and its programs provides critically needed, and highly leveraged, support for the non-profit and faith-based organizations that are making a difference in local communities across the country, including the American Red Cross, Citizen Schools, City Year, Habitat for Humanity, Jumpstart, YouthBuild, and Teach for America, as well as literally thousands of other local shelters, food banks, senior homes, and schools. These programs are a model of government investment at its best – each competes for grants – and the Corporation ensures that the federal dollar is strategically invested in fiscally-efficient and results oriented service organizations that are addressing locally determined community challenges.
The return on this federal investment is significant. The federal share leverages additional support, more than $800 million dollars annually from private companies, foundations and other sources, representing nearly a one-to-one match. Nationally, the 2006 estimated market value of the services Corporation grantees provide topped $2 billion dollars annually.
Even in tough times, the desire to give back is stronger than ever. The number of Americans taking the initiative to serve has spiked since the recession began, with many applicants coming from demographic groups with high unemployment rates, including young adults, seniors, veterans, and minorities. In turn, national service offers added benefits that the American economy cannot afford to lose: $200 million in post-service education scholarships that make college more accessible, skills training and professional development, Senior Corps stipends ($2.65/hr) that income-eligible senior citizens use to afford prescriptions and heating bills, and for qualified members, access to health insurance and student loan deferment.
Each time America is faced with a crisis, the programs supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service are the first to respond—from hurricanes to tornadoes, from fires to economic depression. The national service response is on the ground now in Joplin, Missouri and ten other states ravaged by recent tornadoes and floods. They are assisting storm victims by operating 24-hour hotlines, clearing roads and debris to ensure first responders can maneuver effectively in search and rescue missions, registering and managing volunteers, overseeing donation warehouses and conducting need assessments. All of this is done in close coordination with FEMA and state officials to make certain national resources are used most effectively to address local priorities. Full funding for CNCS – at the President’s requested level – will insure that these activities can continue to address existing community demands.
We know you have difficult decisions to make on the allocation of federal funds and we certainly recognize the threat posed by our deficit. However, we believe the national service, community volunteers, and private investments stimulated by the Corporation for National and Community Service are vital. They are vital in helping to create jobs, provide crucial services to the most vulnerable, assist those out of work develop skills, and implement local solutions to most pressing challenges. We ask that you renew your commitment to expanding opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to play a critical role in their communities and encourage your Subcommittee to fund the Corporation for National and Community Service at the level requested by President Obama, $1.26 billion in FY12.
Disclaimer: As we work to be convincing voices for national service and volunteering, we must be mindful of how critically important it is to keep all political and advocacy activities completely separate from federal grant activities. Furthermore, service has always had bipartisan support. That’s why we must be vigilant in maintaining our focus on educating and informing our representatives about our work and impact in a non-partisan and respectful manner, at all times.
If your organization receives federal funds, you are allowed to sign this letter. Any organization can add their name to this communication, but you have to very careful not to use any Federal resources when reviewing or commenting on legislation. It is critical that organizations who receive federal funds keep any political and advocacy activities completely disassociated with their federal grant activities.
The Corporation for National and Community Service rules are clear on this issue, as are the general rules that apply to all grantees of the federal government. Visit this link for more information: http://www.voicesforservice.org/CNCS_Rules.htm.