Since its beginning during the Clinton Administration, AmeriCorps has recruited over a million people who have worked a collective BILLION hours in disaster restoration, low-income development, education, environmental conservation, financial projects, etc., etc., etc.
The White House budget has just drafted a list of programs to axe in order to cut federal spending. CNCS—the umbrella organization for the many branches of AmeriCorps as well as Teach for America—is on death row.
This isn’t overly surprising. The conservative agenda has tried to axe hundreds of federally funded programs each year. Why? Because while it is too easily quantifiable how much tax money is used to support these programs, the amount of money saved isn’t quite that.
While it is possible to collect data on the millions of hours applied, the millions of dollars saved in infrastructure and park improvement, the millions of dollars saved in annual tax returns to people without resources, these data are more easily refuted than the number absent from the annual budget.
If you aren’t overly familiar with these programs, think of them as a domestic Peace Corps. One that is just in the United States and surrounding territories. One that establishes a sustained, self-sufficient ecosystem of service in communities and eliminates a dependent need. It is important to view it as this, too, because Peace Corps is federally funded too—it could be next on the list to go.
AmeriCorps has reshaped countless communities. Without it, thousands of vital non-profits may crumble.
The vitality of these organizations do not stop at community involvement, either. Service members come from all walks of life, and CNCS programs give them stipends, health insurance, loan forbearance, and even a little incentive to further their education. Also built in are professional development courses and college credits to those who wouldn’t recieve it elsewhere. AmeriCorps has given members self-discovery, purpose, and lifelong careers.
Data analysis time and time again proves that the bang of these service organizations is well well well worth the buck. Our local representatives can make a difference—it’s up to us to broaden our concern.
Featured image available via Wikimedia Commons