After a Tea Party-led majority in the US House of Representatives pushed for the complete elimination of the AmeriCorps program, former AmeriCorps volunteer Caleb Jonas sprang into action to save the life-changing "domestic Peace Corps."
His grassroots campaign on Change.org - started Feb. 9 from his laptop in a Cambridge, Mass. coffee shop - went viral and ultimately generated more than 118,000 emails to U.S. Senators urging them to save the program. Caleb's campaign was profiled in the Boston Globe and House Majority Rep. Eric Cantor, who was giving a speech at the Harvard Kennedy School on Feb. 24, was handed a copy of the petition and forced to publicly address the overwhelming national support for the AmeriCorps program.
It is a testament to Caleb's activism - and the work of the entire service community - that in a late-night budget deal on April 8, the Senate and the House agreed to save AmeriCorps with only minor cuts in funding. AmeriCorps will be funded at $350 million. Although this cut is $23 million less than current funding levels, AmeriCorps volunteers can continue to serve their country.
Early in the morning on Saturday, Feb. 19th, the Republican Majority in the US House passed H.R. 1, a continuing resolution to fund the government through the end of 2011. As part of their plan, Republicans suggested the complete elimination of the AmeriCorps program. Now, the U.S. Senate is the only thing standing in the way of the end of national service.
To cut federal support for AmeriCorps would be a devastating blow to America's very core. AmeriCorps members commit themselves to improving communities across America for very little pay. In exchange, these volunteers develop professional skills, learn about challenges facing fellow Americans, and make a measurable difference in thousands of ways.
Please sign this letter if you believe that AmeriCorps is a critical thread in our national fabric, and its impact is even more powerful in challenging economic times. We call upon the Senate to Stand for AmeriCorps by supporting the President's vision to increase and strengthen AmeriCorps. In these times, more than ever, we need this critical tool to combat poverty, end homelessness, protect the environment, educate our children, support seniors, and provide hundreds of irreplacable community services.