“Everything that we have fought for, everything that we have been able to establish is at risk of being eliminated. Not cut, not reduced, but in the budget that has been proposed to Congress it is under threat of being eliminated. We can’t let that happen. We have to have our voices heard, we have to make sure our Congress members from Western Pennsylvania understand that their constitutes whether they live in the city of Pittsburgh or not, will be directly affected by a cut so draconian” – Mayor Bill Peduto on the FY 18 budget proposal focused around national service programs.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto declared April 4, 2017 Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service. Mayor Peduto spoke about how our nation’s mayors and county officials are increasingly turning to national service as a cost-effective strategy to address local challenges. Here at PCRG, we feel extremely fortunate to be an AmeriCorps VISTA intermediary site. As an intermediary site, we place VISTA members at various locations in the Pittsburgh community, in addition to PCRG. Currently, we have VISTAs serving with Economic Development South, Millvale Community Library, New Sun Rising, and Work Hard Pittsburgh. We are thrilled to announce that Hazelwood Initiative will be joining us as a new VISTA site for the 2017-2018 service year. Our VISTA members have successfully recruited 681 volunteers, whom volunteered 3,936 hours and counting and they have also leveraged $100,530 in cash resources and $8,424 in in-kind donations within the past two years.
While there is typically an overwhelming public support for national service programs, the current Administration’s 2018 Fiscal Year budget has proposed to eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS is the federal agency that supports AmeriCorps State & National, AmeriCorps VISTA, NCCC, and Senior Corps programs. CNCS programs focus on educating students for the jobs of the 21st century, supporting individuals, families, and neighborhoods on the road to economic recovery, addressing the needs of military families, helping communities rebuild after natural disasters, promoting health and wellbeing, and preserving the nation’s parks and public lands. According to Voices of National Service, the total funding for CNCS only makes up .03% of total federal spending. This money is used to assist members during and after their one or two year service terms in the form of a living stipend and an after service education award. A report conducted by economists at Columbia University concluded that every dollar invested in national service generates almost $4 in returns to society in terms of higher earnings, increased output, and other community-wide benefits.
It is imperative that national service continues to have bipartisan support, which is why it is critical that we focus on educating and informing representatives about the impact CNCS has on America.
Our VISTA team showing support for national service!