Serve Wisconsin proudly announced that Wisconsin has received $7.3 million in federal funding to support AmeriCorps programming and celebrated the kickoff of the AmeriCorps program year on October 30 at a virtual Opening Ceremony. Included within those funds are $234,446 in AmeriCorps funding for two AmeriCorps programs specifically centered in Racine and Kenosha, with several other statewide programs also having members serving in the region.
At the Opening Ceremony, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes inspired the new AmeriCorps members, saying “As we continue to weather this crisis, you’ll be doing even more important work than ever before to improve the lives of people all across Wisconsin. We have far too many gaps in our health, education, and economic systems, and COVID-19 has only made that more abundantly clear. That’s exactly why your service work is so critical. As we work to close those gaps and eventually rebuild those systems to be more equitable and sustainable, we need people on the ground helping those who can’t meet their needs.”
Reflecting on her own service as an AmeriCorps VISTA alumna, Congresswoman Gwen Moore described the impact of her own service to the AmeriCorps members and spoke about their upcoming service, stating that “this year, you will be dedicating the next year to your service. It won’t be easy under these circumstances, you’re going to face challenges, but what you will do will be meaningful to your local communities and to yourselves. I encourage you to take this experience and use it develop a lifetime of commitment to making a difference for others and to our nation.”
“This funding will put 900 AmeriCorps members on the ground statewide, including over 300 in the Milwaukee area, to make a difference for local communities, which will be invaluable this year as our state continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19,” said Jeanne Duffy, Executive Director of Serve Wisconsin. “The service by the AmeriCorps members we are recognizing today during our opening ceremony will continue and expand upon the service of the Wisconsin AmeriCorps members who have already served well over 200,000 hours in response to the pandemic and will make a difference for communities and families throughout the state.”
“We are looking forward to the impact of the AmeriCorps members serving this year and are grateful for the $7.3 million in federal funding to support AmeriCorps programs in Wisconsin over the next year as they provide assistance with local recovery efforts and help tackle some of the toughest problems in Wisconsin, many of which have been exacerbated in recent months, including the opioid epidemic, the academic achievement gap, healthcare access, and housing shortages for low-income families,” Duffy stated.
The funding will support the following Wisconsin AmeriCorps programs:
Racine Zoo AmeriCorps Program 15 AmeriCorps members will provide environmental education programming to elementary, middle school, and high school students to reinforce grade-level science curriculum through inquiry and research activities, environmental presentations, and programming for participating classes at the zoo.
Public Allies Milwaukee – Racine and Kenosha Counties This program is being developed through a planning grant. The program will expand the ability of nonprofit organizations to deliver critical direct services to Racine and Kenosha residents by having AmeriCorps members develop programming to enhance and expand the capacity of these organizations to serve the public.
AmeriCorps’ unique model means the Wisconsin AmeriCorps programs will leverage an additional $6.3 million from the private sector, foundations, and other sources, including $81,196 from the Racine and Kenosha area – further increasing the return on the federal investment for Wisconsin communities.
AmeriCorps members make a critical difference through their service by educating students for the 21st century workforce, supporting veterans and military families, completing conservation projects, tackling the opioid epidemic, promoting economic opportunity in our communities, helping people to live healthier lives, and through several other projects to make their local communities stronger. Additionally, they have played a critical role helping communities throughout the United States recover from flooding, hurricanes, wildfires, and other national disasters, including several disaster relief projects throughout Wisconsin over the past year.
After completing a full term of service, AmeriCorps members receive an award of approximately $6,000 that they can use to pay for college or to pay off student loans, resulting in an additional $3.3 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Award funding for the 900 Wisconsin AmeriCorps members that will be serving this program year.
Since 1994, AmeriCorps members have provided more than 1.6 billion hours of service and earned nearly $4 billion in education awards to pay for college or pay back student loans. Included within those numbers are the more than 27,000 Wisconsin residents who have served approximately 42 million hours through AmeriCorps, earning Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards totaling more than $105.6 million.
The federal funding for these programs and education awards is provided by AmeriCorps, formally known as the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, civic engagement, and national service programs. For more than 25 years, more than 1 million dedicated Americans have joined AmeriCorps and pledged to ‘get things done.’ This year, the 75,000 AmeriCorps members serving in schools, nonprofits, community, and faith-based organizations, will do the same as they rebuild communities, support veterans, fight the opioid epidemic, prepare students for success, foster economic opportunity, and more. Those interested in serving can learn more at AmeriCorps.gov/join.