What if there was a program for adults that enabled participants to gain the necessary skills to earn 21st-century jobs and help pay for post-secondary education while also providing a living wage, health insurance, child-care assistance and instilling the value of community service?
What if this program was also cost-efficient and proven to make a difference in the lives of individuals and in local communities?
Such a program does exist; it's called AmeriCorps. Although AmeriCorps has been around since 1994, many people remain unaware of this important national service program and its incredible impact.
Nationally, more than 900,000 Americans have served more than 1 billion hours during the past 20 years. Thousands of communities and millions of Americans have benefited from the service of AmeriCorps members.
The impact is great for Kentucky, too. Since 1994, more than 9,400 Kentucky residents have served more than 14 million hours and have received education awards totaling more than $32.5 million.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps this year, I think this is the perfect time to shout our successes from the rooftops: AmeriCorps is getting things done.
Members in Kentucky teach and tutor children, combat homelessness, provide drug resistance education, empower survivors of domestic violence, educate the community on disaster preparedness, promote post-secondary opportunities, offer financial literacy resources, address non-academic barriers to success in school, assist low-income elderly, and much more.
Not only do AmeriCorps members provide direct service, they also recruit community volunteers and provide civic engagement opportunities. Last year, Kentucky AmeriCorps members recruited, trained and supervised almost 16,000 community volunteers for the organizations they serve — volunteers who provided more than 80,000 hours of service to their Kentucky communities.
Nationally, and throughout Kentucky, AmeriCorps is getting noticed.
Why? Because it is a cost-effective solution to many of the challenges we face. AmeriCorps expands education and economic opportunity and strengthens the impact of our nation's nonprofits. At this milestone, AmeriCorps is poised for even greater impact and growth.
Learn more about AmeriCorps online, or better yet, join us at a celebration of the 20th anniversary. There will be a statewide rally and swearing-in ceremony for new members at 11 a.m. Friday at the KFC Yum Center plaza in downtown Louisville. The event is free and open to the public. Register at Kyac20.eventbrite.com.
Please join me and more than 500 members, alums, nonprofit leaders, corporate champions, elected officials and other partners as we celebrate the extraordinary impact that AmeriCorps has made over the last 20 years, while we also welcome a new class of AmeriCorps members as they embark on their year of service.