Mikulski Calls for Restoration of President's Massive Americorps Cut - Southern Maryland Headline News

Mikulski Calls for Restoration of President's Massive Americorps Cut

Elimination Would Close Vital Perry Point, Md., Campus

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) has joined several of her Senate colleagues to urge Subcomittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Chairman Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to restore an essential AmeriCorps program that President Bush cut in his FY 2007 budget proposal. The President's budget would eliminate the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and close its five campuses, including one in Perry Point, Md.

"AmeriCorps volunteers tutor teens, start neighborhood crime watches, turn vacant lots into neighborhoods and help communities clean up and rebuild after natural disasters. These volunteers are needed now more than ever," said Senator Mikulski. "As a founder of AmeriCorps, I have been its chief advocate in the Senate. I fought to create AmeriCorps, I fought to strengthen AmeriCorps, and I will fight to save AmeriCorps."

The NCCC is a full-time residential program for 18 to 24 year olds designed to strengthen communities and develop leaders through team-based service projects. Each year, approximately 1,100 participants reside in its five campuses nationwide. The Perry Point campus houses 200 AmeriCorps members every year, and since 1994 its residents have logged more than 350,000 service hours.

Teams are well trained and deployed throughout the country to build homes, clear thousands of acres of burned trees created by wildfires, and tutor children. Most recently, they have provided more than 250,000 service hours valued at $3.8 million to projects in the Gulf Coast region, which reflects their critical service during every American natural disaster since the program started.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Specter and Ranking Member Harkin:

We write to express our support for continued FY 2007 funding of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and to respectfully request that funding be restored to the FY 2006 enacted level of $27 million.

Established in 1993, the AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women between age 18 - 24 designed to strengthen communities and develop leaders through team-based national and community service in the areas of disaster relief, education, unmet human needs, environment and public safety. Since its creation, over 11,000 individuals have completed the 10-month program.

AmeriCorps NCCC is a reputable program with a proven track record. AmeriCorps NCCC team members have built and renovated approximately 5,500 houses, tutored over 300,000 students, constructed 7,800 miles of hiking trails, cleared thousands of acres of burned trees created by wildfires, and supported 4.6 million people in disaster areas. AmeriCorps NCCC members have brought their extensive training in CPR, first aid, disaster response and firefighting to every national disaster since the program was established. Most recently, all AmeriCorps NCCC members have been deployed to the Gulf Coast Region to support hurricane relief and recovery. They have provided more than 250,000 service hours, valued at $3.8 million, to more than 50 different projects.

While the current program was created under the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, the program's roots can be traced to the 1930s. President Roosevelt established the highly regarded Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program on March 31, 1933. CCC members constructed many building and trails in state and national parks that are still used today. In addition, they provided the first truly organized wildfire fighting crews in the country and planted an estimated 3 billion trees for the U.S. Forest Service. In 1992, a bipartisan group of Senators worked hand-in-hand with the first Bush Administration to resurrect the CCC in a new form for a new era, creating what is now know as AmeriCorps NCCC.

The President's proposed budget eliminates the AmeriCorps NCCC program, providing only $5 million to close the five regional campuses located in Sacramento, CA; Denver, CO; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; and Perry Point, MD. The loss of these five campuses will be felt not only in their local communities but within the hundreds of communities throughout the country where they are deployed each year.

We urge you to restore funding for AmeriCorps NCCC to the FY 2006 enacted level of $27 million dollars, and thank you for your consideration of this request.

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