Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Making education possible

President Obama has continued to talk about and focus on education, despite his critics who say he should focus solely on the economy. I am glad that President Obama sees a much larger and further reaching picture than today's immediate needs. As a result, President Obama has pushed for expansion of the Americorps program.
AmeriCorps is a U.S. federal government program partnering with non-profit organizations, public agencies, and faith-based organizations that was created under President Bill Clinton by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. More than 70,000 individuals currently join AmeriCorps annually, totaling more than 500,000 past and current members since 1994. The work done by these groups ranges from public education to environmental clean-up. ~Wikipedia
Americorps allows us to recruit people living in the neighborhoods and communities where we serve. There isn't a lot of pay attached...a small stipend each month and an educational award once the service hours are completed. But I have found that the people in the community *want* to be able to give back to their community. So often, jobs exist far away from their community so they are forced to travel to the other end of town to do something positive.

Americorps provides the opportunity for jobs within the community, as well as providing hope for paying for their education. I am so excited to know that not only is President Obama pushing for an expansion of the program to "employee" more Americorps members, but that the educational award will increase by $500 to provide $5350 toward an Americorps members' college education once they have completed their service hours.

I applaud President Obama's efforts and foresight....and I look forward to receiving more Americorps members to help us run our education programs at Central Dallas.

If you are interested in applying to the Central Dallas Americorps team (and/or would like to apply to work with our After-School Academy in particular), click here.

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Bill Tripling Size of AmeriCorps Heads to President's Desk

Washington — The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval today to a bill that would expand the federal national-service programs by the largest amount in 50 years, sending it to President Obama for a signature.

The bill, recently renamed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (HR 1388) in honor of the longtime Massachusetts senator, would more than triple the size of the AmeriCorps program, to 250,000 slots, up from 75,000. The Senate passed the measure last week, and the House, which had earlier approved a separate bill, adopted the Senate version today.

The legislation would also increase, to $5,350, the education stipend that volunteers receive for each year of service, bringing that award in line with the maximum Pell Grant. Older volunteers could transfer up to $1,000 of their stipend to a child, foster child, or grandchild.

Finally, the bill would create, but not finance, a grant program to encourage service learning. As many as 25 institutions would be named “colleges of service” and would share a $7-million award, which would have to be appropriated by Congress. —Kelly Field
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