Committee Democrats Stand Up to GOP Attacks on Community Service, Volunteers

WASHINGTON – Today, the Committee on Education and the Workforce held a full committee hearing on the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which administers the AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps programs.

Last year, 325,000 Americans serving through AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps invested more than 155 million hours of service to their communities at more than 50,000 locations across the nation. CNCS provides opportunities for individuals to respond to some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation’s communities. Whether it was after Hurricane Katrina, the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, Superstorm Sandy, or the Flint Water Crisis – since its inception, CNCS programs have provided critical support to millions of Americans affected by disaster. In a show of bipartisan support for CNCS, Congress increased the Corporation’s annual appropriations through the recently-enacted Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act.

“In my district, [CNCS programs] include the Virginia Peninsula Boys & Girls Club, which inspires and enables all youth to realize their full potential,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “Service programs also engage and support retired Americans. The City of Hampton, in my District, sponsors a Foster Grandparents program in which 113 ‘foster grandparents’ mentor and counsel at-risk children, including over 150 children in Head Start and over 250 in elementary school. Ninety-two percent of Head Start children with foster grandparents showed improvements in phonological awareness, book knowledge, print awareness, and early literacy skills.”

Since 1994, more than one million individuals have served the nation through AmeriCorps, and earned more than $3 billion in scholarships to help pay for college or pay back student loans. CNCS also has a proven monitoring system that works and continues to strengthen its oversight of national service programs. When faced with members who engaged in potentially prohibited activity, CNCS responded quickly and with deliberative action. There is no evidence that volunteers engaging in questionable or prohibited activities is a widespread problem in the AmeriCorps program.

“National service taps our nation’s greatest resource—the American people—to get things done,” said Ms. Barbara Stewart, CEO of CNCS. “It provides opportunity for those who serve by helping them gain skills, pursue higher education, and find employment. It bolsters the nonprofit, civic, and faith-based organizations that are important to communities across the country.”

Instead of partisan attacks on the CNCS, Republicans should join Democrats to focus on bipartisan improvements to Corporation programs that increase opportunities for national and community service.

OPENING STATEMENT: Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and the Workforce

TESTIMONY: Barbara Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for National and Community Service


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