Volunteer Florida to receive $8.8M for AmeriCorp projects

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Community volunteer programs throughout Florida can breathe a sigh of relief today, as more than 30 AmeriCorps projects statewide learned they have funds available for the coming fiscal year.

Volunteer Florida, the Governor’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service, is splitting $8.8 million among 31 Florida AmeriCorps programs through a series of federal grants by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), bolstered by another $7.6 million in local matching funds, according to Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman.

The money will support the work of over 1270 AmeriCorps members who are in service to local communities for mentoring students, creating job opportunities, supporting non-profits, and providing local response during disasters.

“Volunteer Florida is proud to administer these excellent AmeriCorps programs across the state,” Spellman said in a statement. “We are grateful for CNCS’ investment in our state, and we look forward to working with our sub-grantees as they meet measurable, effective outcomes in Florida.”

AmeriCorps members in Florida are also eligible for $6.4 million in college scholarships upon graduation, for a total federal investment of $15.2 million. Most AmeriCorps volunteers attend college in the area in which they serve, meaning the scholarships will be a direct investment in Florida’s colleges and universities.

Participating in AmeriCorps, members commit to one year to meet critical community needs. Young people entering the workforce after a year of community service are more likely to find a job in Florida.

For the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Volunteer Florida will be emphasizing job readiness and job placement for Floridians to get back to work or enter the workforce for the first time. In addition, the group will focus on mentoring and tutoring high-risk students by placing AmeriCorps members in schools and nonprofits statewide.

More than three-quarters of Volunteer Florida’s AmeriCorps funding (78 percent) goes to education, including after-school tutoring and summer school programs.

Other AmeriCorps programs directed by Volunteer Florida are for protecting natural resources, disaster services, healthy futures and economic opportunity.

In addition to community assistance, Volunteer Florida leads Florida’s national days of service, including September 11 and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. During disasters, Volunteer Florida becomes the lead agency for volunteers and donations.

For more information and a complete list of 2014-2015 grantees can be found at www.volunteerflorida.org.

AmeriCorps works with more than 75,000 members annually to serve through nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations at 15,000 locations across the country. Since 1994, more than 820,000 Americans have given more than 1 billion hours of service to their communities and country through AmeriCorps.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.