AmeriCorps Faces Uncertain Future Due to Budget Cuts

Civilian Conservation Corps at an experimental...

Image via Wikipedia

After taking office, Franklin Roosevelt proposed the Civilian Conservation Corps to create jobs during the Great Depression. Within three months, 250,000 young men were at work, and the CCC became one of the most popular programs of the New Deal. Between 1933 and 1937, unemployment fell from 24.8% to 14.2%.

We already have a program in place that is like the CCC: AmeriCorps. President Bill Clinton created the program (though Pres. Lyndon Johnson created one of its branches, VISTA [Volunteers in Service to America]) and expanded by Pres. George W. Bush and Pres. Obama. Most AmeriCorps members belong to nonprofit organizations and are supervised at the community level, but, like CCC, the program gives young people a (very) modest stipend to do work necessary to their communities.

AmeriCorps is facing massive cuts – and interest in the program is booming. Last year, 536,000 people applied for positions in AmeriCorps, a 67% increase since 2008. Three-quarters were turned away, as were half the organizations that applied for the services of AmeriCorps members.

It is essential that we keep funding AmeriCorps, which each year turns out thousands of young people who have served their communities and gained valuable work experience. Unemployment is striking America’s young people harder than adults; among those 16-25, unemployment is at nearly 18%. Nearly four million young people are looking for jobs, and AmeriCorps, if continued, can help them find jobs and skills for life.

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