It is an exciting time for AmeriCorps! There have been several significant legislative updates with new bills, appropriations, and new partnerships to support and expand AmeriCorps. Below is a snapshot of the different items underway:
American Rescue Plan
The American Rescue Plan was signed into law on March 11, 2021. Included in this $1.9 trillion plan is $1 billion for AmeriCorps. The $1 billion is intended to increase the living allowance for AmeriCorps members, stabilize existing programs, and expand into new communities. Under this legislation:
- The living allowance will increase to $16,000, an increase of $900 from the minimum amount posted in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.
- The cost per MSY will increase from $16,300 to $20,000. These funds can be used to increase the living allowance further or provide necessary operating support to programs.
- These funds will be available for the 2021-2022 program year.
FY22 President’s Budget
The Biden-Harris Administration submitted to Congress the President’s Budget for FY 2022, which includes strong support for AmeriCorps. The President’s Budget provides the following:
- $1.2 billion for AmeriCorps, the agency (increase of $89.2 million over FY 2021 Enacted level).
- $501 million to AmeriCorps State and National (increase of $46 million over FY 2021 Enacted level) that will support approximately 52,000 AmeriCorps members.
- $103.86 million to AmeriCorps VISTA (increase of $6.5 million over FY 2021 Enacted level) that will support an estimated 8,000 full-time AmeriCorps members and summer associates.
- Allow legal residents with Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to serve in AmeriCorps and earn an education award.
- Allow AmeriCorps VISTA members aged 55 and older to transfer education awards.
The CORPS Act
On April 15, 2021, Senators Chris Coons and Roger Wicker reintroduced the CORPS Act (Cultivating Opportunity and Recovery from the Pandemic through Service Act), Senate Bill 1165. They were also joined by a bipartisan list of co-sponsors in introducing the bill including: Sens. Baldwin (D-WI), Booker (D-NJ), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Kelly (D-AZ), Klobuchar (D-MN), Reed (D-RI), King (I-ME), Blunt (R-MO), Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME), Cornyn (R-TX), Graham (R-SC), Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Rubio (R-FL). The CORPS Act proposes an $8 billion investment in national service programs, members, and state service commissions over a three-year period in order to contribute to our nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The House version of the bill is expected to be announced by the end of June.
Public Health Corps
On May 14, 2021, The White House announced $400 million for Public Health AmeriCorps. This new initiative is a partnership between the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and AmeriCorps. Public Health AmeriCorps will include a $400 million investment, over five years, from the CDC’s ARP funding that will enable the recruitment, training, and development of a new generation of public health leaders that are ready to respond to the public health needs of the nation by providing public health service in communities. The program will be part of AmeriCorps State and National, and engage between 3,500- 5,000 AmeriCorps members over five years.
Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Tax Relief Act
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) joined Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Don Bacon (R-NE) as the lead sponsors of the new Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Tax Relief Act, which was introduced on June 16, 2021. This bill eliminates the tax on the education awards earned by AmeriCorps members for successfully completing their term of service.
Civilian Climate Corps
The Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) is a $10 billion investment to strengthen the country’s resiliency to climate change that has been included in the American Jobs Plan Act, as well as the President’s FY22 budget. AmeriCorps was not identified as a lead or partner agency on this initiative in either. Additionally, Senator Markey (D-MA) and Representative Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14) introduced the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act, which did specify administration of this program by AmeriCorps. It is unclear if AmeriCorps would play a role in administering or partnering on a Civilian Climate Corps program, if enacted.