Sweeping Expansion of National Service

Seventy-five years to the day after President Roosevelt signed the Civilian Conservation Corps into law, the House of Representatives today sent President Obama a sweeping expansion of national service that will engage millions of Americans in meeting national needs and solving local problems through volunteer service.The House voted 275-149 this afternoon to accept the Senate amendments to H.R. 1388, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The Senate passed the bill last Thursday in a 79-19 vote and renamed the legislation after Senator Kennedy, a longtime champion of national service.

“Because of this legislation, millions of Americans at all stages of their lives will have new opportunities to serve their country. I call on all Americans to stand up and do what they can to serve their communities, shape our history and enrich both their own lives and the lives of others across this country” President Obama said in a statement released today.

Under the legislation, the Corporation would increase and enhance opportunities for Americans of all ages to serve by setting AmeriCorps on a path to increase from 75,000 to 250,000 positions each year, establishing a Summer of Service program, expanding eligibility for Senior Corps programs, and creating Silver Scholarships and Encore Fellowships for older Americans. It will strengthen America’s civic infrastructure through the creation of grant programs to invest in social innovation, support volunteer mobilization, and build nonprofit capacity. The new law is also designed to strengthen the management, cost-effectiveness and accountability of programs by increasing flexibility, consolidating funding streams, and introducing more competition. For a bill summary, click here.

“History has shown that in times of crisis, Americans turn to service and volunteering for healing, for rebuilding and for hope. The spirit and generosity of the American people is one of our nation’s greatest assets,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “This legislation is just what we need, at this pivotal moment, to get our nation back on track.”

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