(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded Senate passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. This act will strengthen our nation’s volunteer and service infrastructure, provide more opportunities for individuals of all ages to serve, and provide more focus on areas of national need. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 79-19.
“This bill will ensure that more Americans have the opportunity and resources to serve their communities,” said Senator Murray. “We should encourage more Americans to enter public service, and today the Senate paved the way towards opening the door to thousands of individuals.”
Despite the economy, there are scores of willing volunteers who want to help out more than ever. The Serve America Act will ensure that those individuals have an opportunity to serve by allowing 175,000 more Americans to give a year of service to AmeriCorps, establishing the Volunteer Generation Fund to help better coordinate volunteers with opportunities, and providing new volunteer opportunities for citizens of all ages in addition to new entrepreneurial service ventures.
The Volunteer Generation Fund, which Senator Murray helped secure, will help local organizations gain more volunteers by funding the recruitment and management of volunteers and volunteer opportunities. This fund will also work to better direct volunteers to projects that fit community needs and the volunteer’s schedule and abilities.
In addition to supporting existing service organizations and the Washington State Commission for National and Community Service, the Serve America Act also provides better access to funds for Washington state residents who have innovative ideas for improving participation in service.
The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act bolsters existing local and national service organizations directly by:
- Increasing the number of participants from 75,000 to 250,000
- Increasing the education award earned by AmeriCorps members from $4,725 to $5,350
- Establishing corps within AmeriCorps focused on areas of national needs such as education, veterans, energy efficiency and health care.
Learn and Serve America:
- Establishing a Summer of Service program for middle- and high-school students
- Initiating “Youth Engagement Zones” to expand service-learning opportunities for students in low-income communities
- Recognizing colleges and universities that are emphasizing service and service-learning through a new “Campus of Service” designation that will provide funding for up to 25 institutions of higher education to be recognized for their work.
Senior Corps and Other Opportunities for Older Adults:
- Creating a new Encore Fellowships to help more Americans aged 55 or over to transition to full-time public service
- Enhancing incentive for adults to participate in AmeriCorps
Social Entrepreneurship and Volunteer Generation:
- Establishing a network of public-private Community Solutions Funds, to invest in replicating and expanding nonprofits that work in high-need areas.
- Establishing a Volunteer Generation Fund to provide assistance in recruiting, managing, and utilizing volunteers to local nonprofits across the country.
See more information on the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.