This could be the last year for AmeriCorps in Genesee County.
As part of a budget proposal from President Donald Trump, funding for AmeriCorps, founded in 1994 and a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, would be cut after 2017-18.
Jocelyn Sikorski, director of the Youth Bureau, shared her concerns about the future of the program with members of the County Legislature yesterday during the Human Services Committee meeting.
AmeriCorps, under the direction of Genesee County, provides a variety of services to nonprofit and government agencies throughout the GLOW region. Participants, usually teens, earn a living allowance and up to $5,800 for college -- paid directly to the college. Retirees can also serve and bank their college awards for their grandchildren to use anytime within seven years.
"That's significant if you're a college student you're only going to a local college," Sikorski said. "That might cover almost a semester. So it's significant money when you look at what they get for an education from their work."
A concern for supporters of AmeriCorps is that members of the majority party in both the Senate and House have long wanted to eliminate funding for the program, so while Trump's budget is just merely a proposal, cuts for such programs may gain support from congressional members.
The share of the budget for CNCS, a total of $1 billion, which also supports the senior program RSVP, is less than 3/10ths of a percent of the entire federal budget.
We requested a statement from the office of Rep. Chris Collins on the proposed cut this afternoon but have not yet received a response.
More than 80,000 people participate in AmeriCorps each year, including 35 in the GLOW region.
AmeriCorp members mentor students, support veterans and military families, work in parts and on community projects. They also organize part-time volunteers for programs and projects.
According to a Columbia University Study, each dollar invested in community service programs, such as AmericCorps, returns $4 in benefits.
The CNCS also raised $1.26 billion in private contributions to help supplement federal funding.
UPDATE 6:35 p.m.: We received the following statement from the office of Rep. Chris Collins:
“The budget proposal released by President Trump expands upon the priorities he previously released back in March. This proposal shows the President is committed to balancing the federal budget over 10 years, shrinking government and cutting tax rates to get our economy growing. Balancing the federal budget is an important goal and I commend the President for making this a priority. Additionally, this budget protects a commitment President Trump made to rebuild our military and I appreciate him taking the necessary steps to make sure we are keeping America safe.
“As I said before, Congress will have vital say in this budget process and my top priority is always about fighting for my constituents. I am committed to protecting programs like NIH funding, Community Block Grants, Meals on Wheels, Great Lakes funding, among others, that play an important role in strengthening our community. We will take a careful look at all programs to make sure taxpayers are getting an appropriate bang for their buck.
“As we focus on creating jobs, reducing the national debt, and keeping Americans safe, it is clear that difficult decisions will need to be made. Ultimately, it is up to Congress to make these funding decisions. My constituents know that I will continue fighting for their best interests above all else.”