April 21 (UPI) — Nearly a decade after former President Barack Obama provided a major shot in the arm for the U.S. government’s premier civil service program with a healthy infusion of cash, it now faces the end of the road under the Trump administration.
Exactly eight years ago Friday, Obama pledged an additional $6 billion for AmeriCorps, the government’s 23-year-old civil society program that provides much-needed work on a number of fronts from coast to coast.
The program, created in September 1993 and launched in 1994 under former President Bill Clinton, offers full- and part-time opportunities for young Americans to perform valued services in various U.S. communities that might otherwise go ignored by overworked federal agencies. Three months after his inauguration, Obama submitted the cash as an effort to grow AmeriCorps’ workforce from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2019.
The program, which relies on federal funding and private donations, addresses a multitude of needs across the United States — including at-risk school children, public lands and waterways — and engages more than 80,000 workers every year. It is often referred to as a domestic Peace Corps.
Under the new administration, however, the AmeriCorps footprint could be entirely wiped from existence.
The 2018 budget blueprint submitted last month by President Donald Trump, which calls for a dramatic increase in military spending, completely eliminates funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers AmeriCorps. If Congress authorizes the president’s budget, which Trump titled “America First,” it would mean the end of the road for what has become an American institution.
Since Trump’s proposal was submitted in March, many former government officials and advocates have spoken against eliminating the program, citing vast positive effects it continues to have nationwide.
“It would cripple … community organizations like Teach For America, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities USA and The American Red Cross, that rely on AmeriCorps members to serve children and families as tutors and mentors, respond to natural disasters, and take care of military families in large and small communities all across our nation,” AnnMaura Connolly, president of Voices for National Service, said last month after Trump’s budget was submitted. “It would put the 80,000 people who serve in AmeriCorps annually out of work. At a time when the price of college is astronomical and so many Americans need jobs, AmeriCorps helps young people pay for college, prepares them for the workforce and helps the unemployed find work.”