AmeriCorps Surges Past 500,000 Members
The number of Americans of all ages and backgrounds who have taken the AmeriCorps pledge to “get things done for America” and dedicated themselves to a year of intense service in exchange for an education award will pass the half-million mark this spring.
AmeriCorps members help communities tackle problems from poverty and illiteracy to crime and disasters through a new mix of social entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and volunteering. Every AmeriCorps member takes a pledge at the beginning of his or her service to help the organization reach its goals of meeting local needs, strengthening communities, and achieving results.
AmeriCorps’ community partners include prominent national organizations such as Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity, City Year, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the American Red Cross, as well the 2,000 plus local nonprofit, education, and faith-based grantees and projects that sponsor AmeriCorps members each year.
AmeriCorps was created by President Clinton and Congress in 1993 as a way for Americans to give back to their communities and country and earn money for college in return. President Bush embraced AmeriCorps and expanded the program by 50 percent to support 75,000 AmeriCorps positions annually. Today AmeriCorps enjoys widespread bipartisan support in Congress and among the nation’s governors, who play a key role in determining where AmeriCorps funds can best be invested to meet state and local needs.
Since its creation in 1994, AmeriCorps members have provided more than 637 million hours of service. Using Independent Sector’s estimate of the dollar value of a volunteer’s time, those hours equate to more than $11.9 billion dollars in value. In addition to their direct service, AmeriCorps members have proved to be a powerful force multiplier for volunteer efforts. In 2006 alone, AmeriCorps members recruited and managed 1.4 million community volunteers. Once they complete their service, AmeriCorps alums remain highly engaged and active in their communities, volunteering and entering public service careers at disproportionately high levels.
AmeriCorps is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which also oversees Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America. Together with the USA Freedom Corps, the Corporation is working to build a culture of service, citizenship, and responsibility in America.