AmeriCorps is a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which also oversees the Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America. Collectively, these three programs represent a total of more than 2 million members in service each year. AmeriCorps itself is split into three main divisions, including AmeriCorps State and National, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), and NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps).
AmeriCorps dates to the early 1990s. Research has illustrated that AmeriCorps programs have a variety of effects on civic education, education, and public service.
According to the AmeriCorps website, since the creation of AmeriCorps in 1993 more than 250,000 individuals across the United States have served hundreds of communities in every state of the nation. Some of the programs, organizations, and institutions funded through the AmeriCorps program include Jumpstart for Young Children, Citizen Schools, City Year, YMCA, Girl Scouts of the USA, Boy Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers (US), Big Sisters (US), Camp Fire USA, Habitat for Humanity and Teach for America.
AmeriCorps is reported to increase the effectiveness of community service. Successes for individual AmeriCorps members include increasing their commitment to community service, increasing community-based activism, connection to their communities, knowledge of community problems, engagement in the political process, and voting participation.
According to a 1998 report from Citizens Against Government Waste, AmeriCorps' operational cost amounted to $27,000 per "volunteer" per year.
In 2003, it was reported that AmeriCorps violated federal law by hiring more people than Congress had authorized, and had spent more money than was legally allowed.
In 1995, AmeriCorps gave a $1.1 million grant to an organization called Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). The grant eventually had to be returned.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton claimed that AmeriCorps members have "taught millions of children to read." However, in an article by libertarian pundit James Bovard, one unnamed official said the real number is probably less than a dozen, and Robert Sweet, the former director of the National Institute of Education, labelled it "a "fraud." Bovard noted that some AmeriCorps volunteers are themselves GED students and welfare recipients, but did not say if any were found tutoring children in reading. One reading tutor did tell Bovard, "We're not teaching them to read... You just want them to think they're doing a good job." Much of the time where literacy teaching was supposed to be taking place was instead spent putting on puppet shows.
In an article entitled "AmeriCorps: Six years of waste and fraud", Bovard reported that "in Indianapolis, AmeriCorps recruits busied themselves painting a giant mural on the side of a pawnshop." The article also states that as of 2000 nearly half of all AmeriCorps members quit the program before finishing their term of service.
Articles suggest that AmeriCorps volunteers assist citizens with applying for welfare, food stamps, and public housing, and one organization who works with AmeriCorps also lobbies the government for more rent control and public housing.
AmeriCorps gave a grant to an organization called Mississippi Action for Community Education, or MACE, which is located in Greenville, Mississippi, one of the poorest cities in the United States. Bovard described MACE's headquarters as "one of the fanciest buildings in town. The plush leather chairs in the waiting room were in stark contrast to the shabbiness of the neighborhood. Uncle Sam has obviously been good to MACE, which has received money from several federal programs over the years."
The Los Angeles Times reported in 1994 that AmeriCorps funded a project that used the program's recruits to protest "third-strike" legislation. AmeriCorps gave a grant of $2.5 million to the Casa Verde Builders Program to build energy efficient homes in Texas. At that time of writing, only 23 of the 64 AmeriCorps members who signed up completed their work. However, the Casa Verde Builders Program was still allowed to keep the entire grant for its ongoing program, and is still active and recruiting volunteers today.
AMERICORPS WEEK SPOTLIGHTS AMERICORPS' IMPACT FROM COAST TO COAST FIFTH ANNUAL EVENT COMES AT TIME OF GROWING DEMAND FOR AMERICORPS.
May 13, 2011; WASHINGTON -- The following information was released by the Corporation for National and Community Service: Every day in...