Safe Passages receives nearly $300,000 in federal funding to support an additional 15 AmeriCorps members and COVID-19 response

OAKLAND, CALIF.– AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, announced a nearly $300,000 Public Health AmeriCorps grant to Safe Passages at an event on Tuesday, June 28 in Oakland, Calif. Public Health AmeriCorps, a partnership between AmeriCorps and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will support the recruitment, training and development of a new generation of public health leaders. 

Michael D. Smith, AmeriCorps CEO, joined Oakland Unified School District Elementary Network superintendent Leroy Gaines, Safe Passages CEO Josefina Alvarado Mena, Safe Passages board chair Colin Lacon and Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s district director to recognize AmeriCorps members serving at Safe Passages and announce the grant awards at Laurel Elementary School.

“Public Health AmeriCorps and Safe Passages will add capacity to strained public health systems and build a career pipeline for public health careers in Oakland,” said AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith. “Over the next year, 15 new AmeriCorps members at Safe Passages and nearly 300 AmeriCorps members in California will provide health education, conduct outreach to increase community health knowledge and address the COVID-19 pandemic across the state. I look forward to championing these programs in partnership with our grantees, the Oakland Unified School District and California health leaders.”

“After the past two and a half years of pandemic, we all know how important it is to have a robust and active public health system in place,” said OUSD Network Superintendent Leroy Gaines. “We are pleased that Safe Passages has received this much-needed grant, and we look forward to incorporating the work of additional AmeriCorps members in spreading the important health education, and COVID-19 information to students and families at Laurel Elementary and schools across our district.”

“Safe Passages is proud to serve our community in partnership with AmeriCorps and Oakland Unified School District in the implementation of the critical Public Health AmeriCorps volunteer program,” said Safe Passages CEO Josefina Alvarado Mena, CEO Safe Passages. “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to disproportionally impact low-income communities of color in Oakland and Alameda County. We are dedicated to recruiting from the communities we serve to develop and implement solutions that are community driven and culturally relevant.”

“Across California, Public Health AmeriCorps will support the state’s public health programs and COVID-19 recovery efforts,” said California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday. “With these new partnerships, we will work together to develop a new generation of public health leaders.” 

Safe Passages is a nonprofit organization committed to disrupting the cycle of poverty by engaging youth and families to build and drive a continuum of services that supports student success and community development. More than 50 AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program currently serve with Safe Passages to support the organization’s Extended Day, Elev8 Youth and Family Resource Center programs. With this new grant, Safe Passages will recruit an additional 15 AmeriCorps members to serve as community health advocates in Alameda County, Calif. AmeriCorps members will provide health education and conduct outreach to increase community health knowledge.

These grant awards are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s larger $7 billion investment in the public health workforce. The next Public Health AmeriCorps federal funding opportunity is expected to be released in Fall 2022. 

AmeriCorps continues to invest in the nation’s COVID-19 recovery. With existing programs in more than 40,000 locations across the country, AmeriCorps is uniquely positioned to bolster community response efforts. For the past two years, thousands of AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers across all 50 states and U.S. territories have continued their service, quickly adapting to meet the changing needs caused by the pandemic and have provided vital support, community response, and recovery efforts, providing support to more than 12 million Americans, including 2.5 million people at vaccination sites.

This spring, AmeriCorps awarded nearly $4.5 million in Public Health AmeriCorps grants to five California organizations. Learn more about Public Health AmeriCorps efforts in California.