AmeriCorps

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AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that engage Americans in service. It consists of three main programs: AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC. [1]

Contents

History

  • 1964 - President Lyndon Johnson , created the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).
  • 1990 - President George H. W. Bush signed the National and Community Service Act of 1990.
  • 1993 - President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act, which established the Corporation for National and Community Service and brought the full range of domestic community service programs under the umbrella of one central organization.
  • 1994 - The first class of 20,000 AmeriCorps members began serving in more than 1,000 communities.
  • 2003 - President George W. Bush signed the Strengthen AmeriCorps Program Act, which nearly doubled the number of AmeriCorps members. [2]

Funding

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17th, includes $201 million in funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service to support an expansion of AmeriCorps State and National and AmeriCorps VISTA programs. [3]

February 2011, the Republican-led 112th Congress suggested the complete elimination of the AmeriCorps program by passing H.R. 1.

Legislation

GIVE Act

In March 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act" (known as the GIVE Act) that would create 175,000 "new service opportunities" under AmeriCorps. Critics say the legislation is "expensive indoctrination and forced advocacy". [4]

Support

U.S. Congress

AmeriCorps has bipartisan support in Congress.

Brookings Institution and CNCS

On May 13, 2008, the Brookings Institution and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) hosted a forum about the role of AmeriCorps in helping to create future public service leaders. [5]

Criticism

Citizens Against Government Waste

In 2000, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) issued a report which said, "AmeriCorps recruits have become just another layer of taxpayer-subsidized bureaucrats, working in government agencies or mimicking the work of lobbyists and political organizers for agenda-driven community organizations." CAGW summarized their report with this statement, "In the final analysis, AmeriCorps is one of the most expensive and longest running political commercials in history. Taxpayers, and especially the 90 million American volunteers who give of themselves to important causes without government help, deserve better." [6]

ExpectMore.gov

ExpectMore.gov has rated the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps as "Ineffective". The ineffective rating is: "Programs receiving this rating are not using your tax dollars effectively. Ineffective programs have been unable to achieve results due to a lack of clarity regarding the program's purpose or goals, poor management, or some other significant weakness."

"The program has never conducted a comprehensive evaluation. Created in 1993 as a demonstration project, this program has never been evaluated to determine whether its unique residential design fosters increased support for service.
Compared to other AmeriCorps service programs, this program is very costly. The program is entirely federally funded, unlike the AmeriCorps State and National program. This, as well as the program's residential design, contributes to a per-participant cost of $28,000--74 percent higher than AmeriCorps.
Performance goals are not measurable. There is minimal data and few quantifiable measures to adequately measure the programs' progress toward achieving its strategic goals of 'strengthening communities' and 'increasing civic participation'." [7]

Kate O’Beirne

Kate O’Beirne said "... the critics are right: AmeriCorps is a wasteful boondoggle." Kate cites one of these critics, "James Bovard found enough abuses in AmeriCorps to devote a whole chapter to it in his book Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years. Bovard found plenty of examples of AmeriCorps participants' wasting their time, engaging in liberal advocacy, and making wildly exaggerated claims about their accomplishments." [8]

Michelle Malkin

Michelle Malkin has said that "... thanks to aid and comfort from Republicans, Clinton's legacy of waste and cynicism and corrupted volunteerism has achieved political immortality. The insatiable beast of bipartisanship lumbers on." [9]

References

  1. What Is AmeriCorps, Fact Sheet, NationalService.gov, March 2009
  2. What is AmeriCorps? - History, Legislation, and Budget, Corporation for National and Community Service, Accessed March 18, 2009
  3. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Corporation for National and Community Service, Accessed March 18, 2009
  4. House Passes Volunteerism Bill Critics Call Pricey, Forced Service Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, FOXNews.com, March 18, 2009
  5. THE IMPACT AND FUTURE OF AMERICORPS, The Brookings Institution, May 13, 2008
  6. Americorps the Pitiful, Through the Looking Glass - A CAGW Special report, Citizens Against Government Waste, 2000
  7. ExpectMore.gov - AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, Accessed March 18, 2009
  8. Corps-Crazy, Kate O’Beirne, National Review Online, February 25, 2002
  9. Look Who Supports Americorps, Michelle Malkin, Capitalism Magazine, January 20, 2001

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