A Call to ACTION! Help SAVE AmeriCorps and YouthBuild!!

February 14, 2011 at 16:47 (Rambles and Rumbles)

Dearest Friends and Family,

As I write this letter, Congress is looking at serious cuts to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), AmeriCorps, and YouthBuild (a Department of Labor job training and education program).  In fact, Congress isn’t just looking at cutting funding to these institutions, but dissolving them entirely.  This action would result in a horrible setback for our Nation and our people.

AmeriCorps was officially started during the Clinton administration, but the programs that make up AmeriCorps (as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service) go back as far as the Kennedy administration.  The goal of AmeriCorps volunteers is to “Get Things Done” for America.  AmeriCorps volunteers perform direct and indirect service in a variety of fields, from criminal justice to health care to social services and beyond.  Thousands of Americans perform service each year, impacting millions nation-wide.

Furthermore, the costs of AmeriCorps are minimal in comparison to the gains.  A full-time AmeriCorps member can make roughly $10,400 in living stipend payments, along with about $5,000 in educational awards at the end of their service.  This means they volunteer at least 40 hours a week, all for less than minimum wage per hour.  Yet the service they provide to their community is invaluable, including fighting poverty, improving education, and much, much more.

YouthBuild has a strong tie to AmeriCorps.  Originally started in the late 1980’s, the program was designed with a dual focus – provide safe, affordable housing for low-income individuals while at the same time offering job training and education opportunities to at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24.  Begun in New York, there are nearly 300 programs in the United States, as well as several programs internationally.  Each program seeks to improve the lives of low-income families, decrease unemployment, increase education levels, and even fight gangs.  YouthBuild impacts the lives of thousands of people each year, again, at a minimal cost.

Yet despite the good these programs do for our Nation, Congress is now trying to place them under the knife in the name of the Federal budget.  As has been said so many times over our recent recession, the American people need a “bail-out” as badly, if not more so, than big businesses.  AmeriCorps and YouthBuild constitute an effective and productive bail-out, but it is now on the chopping block.

YOU, however, CAN HELP.  Contact your Congressman (and/or Congresswoman) TODAY.  Tell them that the services AmeriCorps and YouthBuild provide are IMPORTANT, not just to you, but to our NATION.  They aren’t “welfare” programs, but better.  The impact of AmeriCorps is clear.  They seek to help individuals and families raise themselves up, reducing the need for welfare and public assistance!  Few other programs in our Nation have such lofty goals, and even fewer actually deliver them, like AmeriCorps and YouthBuild do.

Below is a letter from Dorothy Stoneman, the founder of YouthBuild.  It provides some further instructions on how you can make a difference and help SAVE AmeriCorps and YouthBuild.  Please take a moment to read it, and maybe make a few phone calls to your representatives in the Congress and Senate.  Tell them that these programs are important, not just to you, but to everyone.

Together, we can save these programs and preserve them for the future!

Yours in Service,
Katrina Lynam-Henderson
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
Eagle’s Nest YouthBuild
Eagle Ridge Institute
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Dear YouthBuild Directors, Coalition Members, Advocates, Alumni, and other Friends of YouthBuild:

We are writing you today with an urgent call to action.  The majority in the U.S. House of Representatives plans to cut $100 billion from the Federal budget, primarily focused on discretionary domestic spending affecting low income people.

Specifically, the Appropriations Committee proposes to eliminate the YouthBuild program under the Department of Labor; and proposes to eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service programs, including AmeriCorps.

We ask that you TAKE ACTION and call your Member of Congress as soon as possible this week,  and explain how these cuts would hurt your communities.  Urge them to VOTE NO on a Continuing Resolution that eliminates funding for YouthBuild and for the Corporation for National and Community Service Programs, including AmeriCorps, and for many other important programs affecting low-income communities.

At the same time, please forward this call to action to your other networks.

Background:
Starting on Monday, February 14, the U.S. House of Representatives will begin consideration of a Continuing Resolution that will fund the last 7 months of Fiscal Year 2011. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers has announced that the bill will immediately cut $100 billion from the President Obama’s proposed FY’11 budget.

Know that the Senate and the White House will still have their say.  The Senate is unlikely to agree to these cuts, but they need to know that their constituents care also.  Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Tom Harkin (D-IO) have traditionally upheld YouthBuild as a key strategy for reconnecting youth, and we believe they will continue to do so.  They need thanks and encouragement from their constituents.

The full list of House recommended cuts:

http://republicans.appropriations.house.gov/_files/ProgramCutsFY2011ContinuingResolution.pdf

The list by appropriations subcommittees:
http://republicans.appropriations.house.gov/_files/FY2011CRSpendingTablesbySubcommittee.doc

The full legislative text:
http://www.rules.house.gov/Media/file/PDF_112_1/legislativetext/2011crapprops/AppropCRFinal_xml.pdf

How You Can Help:

1. We need to reach every single Member of the House of Representatives many times over and urge them to vote NO on a continuing resolution that eliminates funding for YouthBuild and for the Corporation for National and Community Service and AmeriCorps. Talking points and information on how to contact your Congressperson are below.

2. If you are the leader of an organization, please sign the letter from Voices for National Service, America Forward and ServiceNation urging Congress to fund the Corporation for National and Community Service.  More than 300 people have already added their organizations to this letter.  The deadline to sign is Monday, February 14th at 12pm EST, so there is little time.  To read the letter and sign, click here.  You will be asked to provide your organization’s full name, the name of your CEO or Executive Director, and a list of the states where your organization serves.

Talking points for Calling the House of Representatives:  You can speak about either or both YouthBuild and AmeriCorps, depending on your expertise and interest.  Or if you have read the details of the cuts and have other cuts to speak about, go ahead.  Use whatever of the following you find compelling.

* I am calling to urge you to vote NO on any proposal to eliminate funding for YouthBuild and for AmeriCorps or the Corporation for National and Community Service.
* The CR as a whole will decimate vital services in our communities when millions of Americans need food, shelter, health care, job training and educational support.
* Communities are counting on YouthBuild as a critical opportunity for unemployed low-income young adults to rebuild their communities and their lives through education, job training, and community service.  (If you are a YouthBuild graduate or director, give them details about the impact on your own life, program, or community.  Tell them why it is important not to allow millions of low-income young adults to remain unemployed and under-educated in America.)
* Research shows that every dollar spent on a YouthBuild student returns a minimum of $7.80 in value over the lifetime of that student; and if the student has been court-involved the minimum is $10.90.
* The high school drop-out rate in American is at crisis proportions, (50% in low-income communities) and those young people are lining up outside the doors of YouthBuild programs seeking a hands-on education that will put them back on track for a productive life.  Furthermore, AmeriCorps programs are helping lower the drop-out rate by providing services inside the public schools through Teach for America and CityYear and other good programs.
* Communities are counting on AmeriCorps members, national service participants and community volunteers to meet the increased demand for services.
* The CR will only push unemployment rates up. Unemployment numbers — particularly for young people, veterans and military spouses, older Americans and people of color – remain alarmingly high.
* For Americans who are struggling to find work, YouthBuild and national service programs offer participants the opportunity to earn a subsistence-level stipend, develop skills, and create pathways to future employment. Eliminating programs like YouthBuild and AmeriCorps and VISTA will result in jobs lost for the corps members and the staff who supervise them.
* The federal investment made in faith based and community organizations through the Corporation for National and Community Service leverages $799 million in matching funds from companies, foundations and other sources.
* If you de-fund YouthBuild and the national service programs, whole organizations will shut down in the communities that need them most, and most will not be able to reopen again even if funding is restored.

HOW TO CONTACT YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS

* If you need help determining the members of your congressional delegation, visit www.congress.org. This database will provide you with contact information for your elected officials.
* You can call your Representatives directly or be connected through the House Operator (202-225-3121). Once connected, give your name and identify yourself as a constituent and ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant in charge of job training, national service, and education issues.
* Given the severity of the cuts proposed by the House, you may experience some difficulty calling the Capitol, so it is probably better to get the direct line to your own Rep.  It is important that you keep trying. If you can’t reach your Representative by phone, please send a fax communication to their office, or call their local office.  This is a time sensitive ask. Emails or mailed letters will not reach the decision makers in time. It is critical that our lawmakers hear from the constituents directly impacted by their decisions.
* While you’re at it, you could call your Senators to tell them how disturbed you are by what the House majority is planning to do and urge them to stay on course with their own Continuing Resolution.  So far the Senate leadership has not announced anything so they need to hear from their constituents also.
* Organize anyone else you can to call also.
* Keep all communication courteous and respectful;  we aim to increase civility at all times no matter how upsetting some of these cuts may be.

STEPS RELATED ONLY TO YOUTHBUILD:   Some of you have asked what we are doing focused solely on YouthBuild:

There is a letter going to Congress from the National YouthBuild Coalition that will include the names of all Coalition members, who have already authorized us to use their names when advocating for YouthBuild appropriations.  It includes over 800 local organizations.

We are asking ALL local YouthBuild programs to steadily and now rapidly build relationships with all three of their legislators to make sure they hear the messages about YouthBuild and national service.

We are asking our corporate supporters to weigh in as the process goes forward, and the Mayors.

More as we go forward….we think alumni will be organizing messages on Facebook.

In solidarity,

Dorothy Stoneman
Chairperson, National YouthBuild Coalition

Charlotte Golar Richiie
YouthBuild USA, Senior Vice President for Public Policy

(YouthBuild USA organizes advocacy and lobbying on behalf of the YouthBuild program and other important public services, but it does not use any public funds for those  purposes.)

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1 Comment

  1. limewire said,

    fantastic

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