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August 9, 1999: Promoting Citizen Service to America's Communities

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"You have built tens of thousands of homes, immunized hundreds of thousands of children, taught millions of students, planted tens of millions of trees. AmeriCorps is showing that citizen service is one of the most powerful forces for change in our society. We must work toward the day when citizen service is the common expectation and common experience of every American."

President Bill Clinton
August 9, 1999

Today, at the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps graduation ceremony held in Washington, D.C., President Clinton touted AmeriCorps' strong record of success and pledged not to sign any bill that would abolish funding for the program. The President also reiterated his call for Congress to expand the participation level in AmeriCorps to 100,000 members each year.

A Strong Record of Success. When he came into office in 1993, President Clinton outlined a vision for a national service program that linked responsibility to opportunity by allowing young people to serve our nation while earning funds for a college education. The result of that vision is AmeriCorps, which brings people of different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds together to solve community problems and improve the lives of Americans throughout the country. After a year of full-time service, AmeriCorps members receive education awards to help finance college or pay back student loans. In just over four years, AmeriCorps has:

  • brought over 100,000 Americans together to solve problems in more than 4,000 communities;
  • served nearly 33 million people;
  • mobilized nearly 2 million volunteers;
  • taught, tutored or mentored more than 2 million children;
  • organized after-school programs for more than a half million at-risk youth;
  • helped more than 200,000 senior citizens live independently; and
  • built or rehabilitated more than 25,000 homes.

Opposing Republican Efforts to Eliminate Opportunities for Citizen Service. Last week, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee voted to eliminate all funding for the AmeriCorps national service program. President Clinton denounced this short-sighted step, urging Congressional Republicans to build on bipartisan support for the thousands of AmeriCorps members who are bringing change to communities across the nation. The President pledged not to sign any bill that abolishes the AmeriCorps program.

Giving More Americans a Chance to Serve. The President reiterated his call for Congress to reauthorize AmeriCorps and to create opportunities for 100,000 young people to serve in AmeriCorps every year. President Clinton's Fiscal Year 2000 budget proposes to expand AmeriCorps to nearly 70,000 members by the year 2000, with the goal of reaching 100,000 members serving each year by 2002. The FY 2000 budget request includes $533 million for AmeriCorps, an increase of $106 million over last year. This expansion would also allow high school students to join AmeriCorps by serving part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer.

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