By AnnMaura Connolly and Rye Barcott
Last week, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. A little noticed but important provision in the law increases the national service budget by $1 billion, the first significant expansion of AmeriCorps since it was established in 1994. This step forward follows years of rising bipartisan recognition that AmeriCorps plays a vital role supporting community-based nonprofits across the nation.
Voluntary national service is a powerful way to help our country recover from the pandemic while also investing in our future. Realizing this, Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) recruited a bipartisan group of 16 co-sponsors (8 Republicans, 7 Democrats, and 1 Independent) in the summer of 2020 and introduced the CORPS Act. Their goal was to expand AmeriCorps from approximately 75,000 to 250,000 members over the next three years and increase the living stipend and educational benefit for those who serve so that a year of national service can be accessible to all Americans.
The vision of The CORPS Act enabled the first expansion of AmeriCorps last week. As more Americans step up to serve, it is important to continue this momentum and scale national service to the 250,000 goal in the CORPS Act in the 117th Congress.