Statement on the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service's Final Report

States will be Critical Partners in Implementing "Inspired to Serve" Recommendations and Growing Service to Reach Diverse Communities

 

Washington, DC (April 24, 2020) — In its final 255-page report to Congress last month entitled Inspired to Serve, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service issued a compelling call to expand all forms of service over the next 10 years, including a goal to enlist one million Americans annually in civilian national service programs, a significant leap from the approximately 290,000 combined AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and Senior Corps positions that are currently filled each year.

America’s Service Commissions (ASC), the national association of the 52 governor-appointed state service commissions, is pleased to have been a consulting partner and contributor to the National Commission's report process, providing both written and in-person testimony and coordinating focus group and presentation opportunities for the National Commission to consult with state service commissions and their AmeriCorps programs over the past two and a half years.

The final report includes five major recommendations to boost national and create a national infrastructure that is ready and able to accommodate one million federally-supported national service opportunities by 2031:

  1. Improve awareness and recruitment. Funding an awareness campaign and referring those who are interested in but ineligible for military service, as well as veterans, to national service programs will help more Americans learn about and explore national service opportunities and make fully informed decisions to serve.
  2. Monitor the accessibility and results of AmeriCorps programs. Collecting more complete applicant and participant data will help policymakers better understand the demand for AmeriCorps programs and their accessibility to individuals across the socioeconomic spectrum, while enabling the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to send AmeriCorps alumni a record of completion of national service that includes information on training received and certifications or licenses earned.
  3. Increase the value, flexibility, and use of service incentives. Increasing the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps living allowances and the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, exempting the Segal Award from income taxes and allowing a cash-out option, and promoting in-state tuition for national service alumni will help make a service year a viable option for those who do not have other means of financial support and will increase the value and usability of the benefits associated with AmeriCorps.
  4. Expand opportunities through national service. Doubling the participation of opportunity youth—the 4.5 million Americans ages 16–24 who are neither working nor in school—and Tribal members in national service programs; expanding service opportunities that welcome diverse abilities, including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and leveraging national service to reintegrate ex-offenders will help share the benefits of national service more broadly.
  5. Establish new models for national service. Awarding national service fellowships to support individuals participating in a service year at any certified nonprofit organization will significantly expand the universe of opportunities for national service, especially in rural and underserved areas. Also, providing dedicated funding for demonstration projects will enable
    CNCS to test and expand other innovative approaches for national service.

ASC applauds the National Commission's in-depth research process and recommendations to Congress and believes a robust state role will be necessary to fully achieve these goals, such as:

  • Strengthening the federal-state partnership and delivery system to provide maximum flexibility in administering national service grant programs;
  • Prioritizing governor-appointed state service commissions as the administrative entities overseeing future service learning initiatives and funding;
  • Preserving the state service commission role in the original Serve America Fellowship program, as intended and authorized by Congress under the Serve America Act of 2009;
  • Supporting changes in legislation to allow state service commissions to administer programs in order to support reducing programmatic burdens on small, rural and underserved communities;
  • Encouraging the waiver of federal match requirements for national service programs operating in underserved communities to increase participation from small, less resourced, and/or rural organizations;
  • Reducing hardship in the provision of wraparound services by appropriating additional funding for CNCS to provide dedicated financial support to AmeriCorps State and National and AmeriCorps VISTA programs that demonstrate philanthropic challenges or high costs per member due to the provision of wraparound services. Especially in light of COVID-19, national service funding needs to be bolstered and “right sized” to ensure all participating organizations can afford to host and facilitate high quality experiences and new organizations have the resources to start programs;
  • Expanding community volunteerism initiatives as a pipeline to national service through increased funding and awareness for the George H.W. Bush Volunteer Generation Fund, an important but overlooked program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) administered by state commissions to ensure infrastructure for service and volunteerism across all corners of the country, even where larger national service programs do not yet exist;
  • Increasing funding for the 52 governor-supported state service commissions to increase staff capacity to develop new national service programs in diverse communities and prepare for one million national service positions annually by 2031; and
  • Incentivizing state investment by prioritizing access to national service positions for governors/state legislatures that allocate state resources for new service positions.

"The involvement of governors and their state service commissions is going to be key to the success of expanding national service in the United States as the National Commission's report is wisely calling for," said Kaira Esgate, CEO of America's Service Commissions. "State service commissions already play a critical role in developing and supporting national service programs that address local community needs. National service is truly national, and not just located in large urban areas, because of the role state service commissions have always played in making service programs and positions accessible to (and relevant for) all communities. We know from experience that the role of states must continue — and likely expand — to fulfill the recommendations included in this timely report."

View the Final Report >>


 

About America’s Service Commissions (ASC)

America’s Service Commissions (ASC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association representing and promoting the 52 state service commissions across the United States with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. ASC is a peer network of governor-appointed commissioners, along with staff from the state service commissions.

State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,000 commissioners — private citizens leading the nation's philanthropic and volunteer movement — and administering 80 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. The nation’s 52 state service commissions operate at the state and local level granting more than $300 million from federal national service funds while matching these federal dollars from state and local sources to support citizen service and volunteerism in America. These funds support more than 40,000 AmeriCorps members throughout the country.

Learn more by visiting www.statecommissions.org.

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