The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and a Plea for HR 1066

Yesterday President Obama signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that, among many things, will establish the Volunteers for Prosperity (VfP) program in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and expand the number of AmeriCorps slots from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2017, in addition to increasing volunteer opportunities at home and abroad.

The Serve America Act will provide incentives for students and senior citizens to participate in volunteer community service and includes the Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative, designed to expand organizational development assistance to small and midsize nonprofits. [OMB Watch]

Next on the books: The passing of HR 1066, otherwise known as the Peace Corps Expansion Act 2009. There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of making this a reality. HR 1066 would essentially “pave the way for an expanded and improved Peace Corps by authorizing Congress to provide $450 million, $600 million and $750 million in 2010, 2011 and 2012” respectively.

According to an email I received last week, 101 members of Congress have co-sponsored Congressman Sam Farr’s Colombia 64-66 bill to more than double the Peace Corps’ budget, but that is not enough to make it a reality and more support is therefore needed. Those campaigning for the cause have a goal of obtaining 150 co-sponsors for the bill by June 1, 2009.

As there are 334 congressmen/women who still have not co-sponsored HR 1066, citizens are encouraged to write their congress person urging them to support the bill.

A sample letter can be accessed here.

For a list of co-sponsors who, as of the writing of this post have not yet come on board in support of HR 1066, please feel to contact me at: blog [at] colonymagazine.com – I would be happy to forward the list to interested parties.

If you believe Peace Corps deserves extra assistance for expansion purposes, please write to your Congress person urging them to get behind the Peace Corps Expansion Act 2009 if they have not done so already. Washington has already recognized that service is valued and expanding the Peace Corps is another way of following through on that belief.

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