American Rescue Plan funds will create new national service opportunities, enhance benefits for those who serve, and expand to nonprofits working in underserved communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the Biden Administration’s plan to Build Back Better, AmeriCorps announced today that it will use its $1 billion American Rescue Plan resources to address the ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic by giving more Americans the opportunity to perform national service. AmeriCorps service will become more accessible and inclusive, giving people of all backgrounds the chance to serve their country, in their communities.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis in our nation’s history, and it demands an unprecedented response.  In our darkest hour, Americans of all ages and backgrounds are showing the depth of their character by answering the call to serve,” said AmeriCorps Acting CEO Mal Coles. “With the help of the American Rescue Plan, AmeriCorps will ensure their service impacts those who need it the most. When more Americans serve, we not only confront our nation’s toughest challenges together, but we also renew our sense of community and strengthen our democracy.”

The American Rescue Plan will help AmeriCorps expand national service into new communities and strengthen existing programs with additional resources. AmeriCorps will prioritize COVID-19 relief efforts in communities disproportionately harmed by the pandemic and recruit members and volunteers from these communities.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 last spring, AmeriCorps programs have acted to meet emerging public health, education, food security, and economic needs. Members and volunteers have provided COVID-19 support to more than 11.4 million Americans, including assisting 2.5 million people at vaccination sites, conducting more than 1.6 million wellness checks, providing 34.4 million meals, collecting and distributing more than 145 million pounds of food, and supervising more than 50,000 volunteers.

“AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers have spent the last year showing the crucial role of national service in helping our country respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Karen Dahl, Senior Advisor for COVID-19. “With our programs’ strategic application of this historic increase in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, AmeriCorps’ resources will help even more communities address their most pressing needs.”

The American Rescue Plan creates new positions for AmeriCorps members and volunteers to serve in, makes national service more accessible by offering an increase in the living allowances for AmeriCorps State and National and AmeriCorps VISTA from the previous year, and provides match replacement to existing national service programs that were hit hardest by the pandemic and are unable to raise matching funds for their grants.

American Rescue Plan funds will be invested in three AmeriCorps programs:

AmeriCorps State and National ($644.9 million) – The largest AmeriCorps program by resource allocation, AmeriCorps State and National addresses community needs through a variety of mechanisms, including direct service grants, capacity building grants, and partnerships with Governor-appointed state commissions, US territories, and tribal governments. 

  • Under the American Rescue Plan, the living allowance for AmeriCorps State and National members will increase.
  • Governor-appointed state service commissions will receive an increase in AmeriCorps formula funding over three years, giving states additional flexibility and resources to increase living allowances, stabilize their state AmeriCorps programs, and expand AmeriCorps opportunities.
  • Current grantees will have increased access to “match replacement” funds, which cover the grantees’ portion of the obligation they are unable to fulfill due to the pandemic. This reduces the burden on nonprofit, tribal and community-based organizations, in order to implement AmeriCorps programs.
  • AmeriCorps State and National will introduce a place-based planning grant opportunity to community-based organizations that are strategically aligned to local government priorities. Communities will be asked to collaborate with community leaders to plan and apply for AmeriCorps funding. 
  • Governor-appointed state service commissions will receive additional administrative dollars to support a growing portfolio of programs.
  • The Volunteer Generation Fund will receive additional funding to develop innovative approaches to expand volunteering, increase diversity in volunteer organizations, and strengthen the capacity of volunteer organizations to recruit and retain skill-based volunteers.

AmeriCorps VISTA ($80 million) – VISTA is an anti-poverty program designed to provide resources for nonprofit organizations and public agencies to increase their capacity to lift communities out of poverty.

  • Additional funds will increase the number of VISTA members serving, expanding VISTA’s efforts to address the needs currently facing communities, including public health, food insecurity, and learning loss. 
  • VISTA will use American Rescue Plan funds to expand its summer associate program, immediately adding 1,000 new positions beginning this month. 
  • As directed by the American Rescue Plan legislation, VISTA will use additional funds to increase the living allowance provided to VISTA members. 

AmeriCorps Seniors ($30 million) – AmeriCorps Seniors is the largest AmeriCorps program by enrollment and provides older adults, all volunteers 55+ years of age, opportunities to serve in their community. 

  • Additional funds will focus first on supporting COVID-19 vaccinations, vaccine outreach and education, and summer learning loss and enrichment programs for our nation’s students. Subsequent funding opportunities will focus on programming that supports continued education efforts, health and wellness recovery, and needs identified by communities.
  • Priority funding will be given to projects that are serving Veterans and military families; populations that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, such as Tribal nations and African Americans; and communities that have been hard to reach, such as our nation’s rural communities.  
  • Together, AmeriCorps Seniors’ three programs, RSVP (that serves a variety of community needs), the Foster Grandparent Program (that provides tutors and mentors for children and youth), and Senior Companion Program (that connects seniors to peers who support their independent living), will add over 7,5000 new older adult volunteers across the country.
  • AmeriCorps Seniors will provide existing grantees with the opportunity to obtain additional resources to supplement and expand their current services.

The National Service Trust will receive $148 million for Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards to help members who complete their term of service pay for college, technical school, or repay student loans. 

AmeriCorps will use the remaining funding to support the agency workforce and technology enhancements to improve ease of access, expand applicant diversity, and drive improved engagement. AmeriCorps NCCC, the team-based, direct service youth leadership program, will continue to support its operations through fiscal year appropriations funding for 2021.

AmeriCorps will announce additional grant opportunities later this year, which will include funding for both current and new nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations to use national service to meet local challenges.