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 Home > News & Policies > January 2002

Establishing the USA Freedom Corps

The USA Freedom Corps is the President’s tool for enlisting Americans in public service at home and abroad. It will have a Coordinating Council and a White House Office to carry out its specific functions. Initially, the USA Freedom Corps will support the work of, and recognize participants in, three service efforts -- the newly created Citizen Corps, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, and the Peace Corps. The Citizen Corps will be coordinated by FEMA; AmeriCorps and Senior Corps will be run by the Corporation for National and Community Service; and the Peace Corps will be run by its Director.

Each of these service components will benefit from a serious, focused effort to recruit and mobilize volunteers into various service efforts, track and measure progress in meeting service goals (e.g., doubling Neighborhood Watch programs and adding 100,000 Senior Corps participants), and work together to make policy recommendations to enhance service. The USA Freedom Corps will support the President’s call for all Americans to serve their country for at least 2 years (4,000 hours) and help design ways to measure civic participation.

Americans serving in any of the three service efforts will be recognized appropriately as members of the USA Freedom Corps.


The mission of the USA Freedom Corps is to enlist Americans in service to their country at the national, state, or community level at home or abroad.


  1. Provide a mechanism to coordinate efforts to enlist Americans in service to their country and give priority to these efforts within the Administration.
  2. Work with agencies to recruit and mobilize volunteers and provide information on service opportunities.
  3. Recognize volunteers and participants in USA Freedom Corps programs.
  4. Track and measure progress in public service programs.
  5. Make policy recommendations on how Departments and programs can provide incentives and break down barriers to increase service in the United States.

USA Freedom Corps Council

The USA Freedom Corps Council will be created by executive order. The President will chair the Council. The Council will include the following as members:

  1. Vice President;
  2. Attorney General;
  3. Secretary of State;
  4. Secretary of Commerce;
  5. Secretary of Health and Human Services;
  6. Secretary of Education;
  7. Secretary of Veterans Affairs;
  8. Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency;
  9. Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service;
  10. Director of the Peace Corps;
  11. Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development;
  12. Director, USA Freedom Corps Office; and
  13. Director, Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

The heads of each of the participating agencies are accountable for their specific programs and responsibilities within this integrated citizens service initiative.

Office of the USA Freedom Corps

An Office of the USA Freedom Corps will be created by executive order and funded by the Executive Office of the President. The Office will support the functions of the USA Freedom Corps. The Director will have authority to manage this effort and will report directly to the President.


The Administration is requesting $2.6 million for FY 2003 to support the offices and staff of the USA Freedom Corps.

Initial Volunteer Recruitment

Volunteer recruitment by the USA Freedom Corps will initially include:

  • Website: The website,, will be available to the public. The site will link potential volunteers to all the service options that are part of the USA Freedom Corps and will provide information on local service options outside the USA Freedom Corps.
  • 1-800 Number: For information about the USA Freedom Corps, Americans can call 1-877-USA-CORPS.

Establishing a Citizen Corps: Engaging Citizens in Homeland Security

The Citizen Corps will harness the power of citizens to help prepare their local communities for the threats of terrorism. The Citizen Corps will be a locally-driven initiative managed by the newly created Citizen Corps Councils (Councils), supported at the state level by Governors, and coordinated nationally by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA will coordinate with Governors and Mayors and their Emergency Management Offices to spur the creation of the Councils and distribute matching funds. The Citizen Corps builds on existing crime prevention, natural disaster preparedness, and public health response networks.

The Citizen Corps will initially consist of members of the Councils and participants in the local programs, including: the Volunteers in Police Service Program; an expanded Neighborhood Watch Program; the Medical Reserve Corps; and Community Emergency Response Teams. Additional programs created by the local Citizen Corps Councils will be considered by FEMA for recognition as components of the Citizen Corps. FEMA will recognize citizens in these programs as Citizen Corps members.

FEMA will coordinate with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Corporation for National and Community Service, and other Federal departments and agencies to provide additional support, including special training programs and materials.

At the local level, the Citizen Corps will be organized by pursuing the following actions:

Establish Citizen Corps Councils

Citizen Corps Councils (Councils) will be created at the local level throughout the country. Councils will have flexibility to determine the jurisdictions they cover, and FEMA will coordinate with the Governors and their state Emergency Management Offices and, where applicable, state homeland security offices, to ensure councils represent citizens throughout the state. Mayors, Members of Congress, County Administrators, or other officials working at the local level would help lead the Councils. In areas where similar efforts are already underway, the Councils would build on these existing local homeland security efforts.

Other members of the Councils would include leaders from law enforcement, state, and local fire and emergency offices, businesses (especially security firms), school officials, faith-based groups, public health organizations, mental health and educational groups, veterans groups, and neighborhood watch organizations. Other participants may include representatives from non-profit organizations, community foundations, and other institutions with local presence and the ability to build capacity. The Citizen Corps Councils are intended to reach all segments of American society and should represent the diversity of each local community. Federal representatives from key agencies with local and regional offices, especially FEMA, DOJ, HHS, VA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and the U.S. Postal Service will also be involved as appropriate and work with their state and local counterparts to help support the work of the Councils.

The Councils will be responsible for developing a community action plan, including a local assessment of infrastructure vulnerabilities and possible threats, available local resources, and how to best organize and expand local efforts. The community action plan will coordinate the community-based prevention and preparedness efforts, such as Volunteers in Police Service, Neighborhood Watch (with a new terrorism prevention focus), Medical Reserve Corps, and Community Emergency Response Teams.

FEMA will provide $144 million in matching funds in Fiscal Year 2003 to help create and maintain the efforts of the Councils. Funds can be used for staff, training, and equipment, program materials and other costs. The funds will be drawn down by the Governors to use for the creation of the Citizen Corps and the Councils and programs that support it.

Each Council will appoint a coordinator who will serve as executive director of the Council or design other ways to ensure Council efforts are strongly supported over time. FEMA, in coordination with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, will provide materials and training to the Councils on how to organize such efforts, to recruit and train volunteers, and to create the following programs.

Develop a Volunteers In Police Service Program (VIPS)

Since September 11, the demands on state and local law enforcement have immeasurably increased. Resources are being stretched further than ever at a time when the country needs every available officer out on the beat. Some local police departments are turning to civilian volunteers to supplement their forces. These programs draw on the time and considerable talents of civilian volunteers and allow law enforcement professionals to better perform their front-line duties.

For example, Anne Arundel County, Maryland has a local initiative in which volunteers serve in the following capacities appropriate for non-sworn officers: taking police reports; making follow-up phone calls to victims; doing finger printing; helping with neighborhood watch; engaging in crowd/parking control at special events; acting as crossing guards; and performing other administrative tasks that free officers to do front line work.

In Henderson County, North Carolina, the sheriff’s office actively recruits volunteers (particularly senior citizens) who serve subpoenas, serve in courthouses in uniform as volunteers to run metal detectors and give tours of the Police Academy, perform search and rescue missions, do mounted patrols in parking lots at high school football games, and work with local communities on crime prevention measures.

The VIPS Program will include a tool kit developed to assist local law enforcement in incorporating community volunteers into the activities of the law enforcement agency. This tool kit would outline a series of "best practices" to help state and local law enforcement design strategies to recruit, train, and deploy citizen volunteers in their departments. The U.S. Department of Justice will provide $3 million in Fiscal Year 2003 to support the VIPS program.

Double the Number of Neighborhood Watch Programs and Add a Terrorism Prevention Component

The Neighborhood Watch Program (NWP) will incorporate terrorism prevention into its routine mission and operate as a distribution mechanism for anti-terrorism information circulated by the Councils and other agencies. The goal is to double the number of NWPs over the next two years. In existence for 30 years, the NWP is a highly successful program that has played an important role in preventing crime. The National Sheriffs’ Association estimates that approximately 7,500 communities representing nearly 30 million people around the country participate in grassroots crime prevention under Neighborhood Watch. As the "eyes and ears" of local communities, the NWP is a unique infrastructure that brings together local law enforcement and citizens for the protection of communities.

The Citizen Corps Councils will encourage the creation of NWPs in communities that do not have them and enhance the capacity and relevance of NWPs for those that do. The NWPs would receive materials from the Department of Justice, working in conjunction with the National Sheriffs’ Association, on how to incorporate the new focus. To ensure that existing NWPs are incorporated into these new efforts, Neighborhood Watch Program Coordinators or their designees will organize the efforts of the local NWPs and would be appointed to sit on the Citizen Corps Councils.

DOJ will provide $6 million in Fiscal Year 2003 for the expanded Neighborhood Watch Program.

Create a Medical Reserve Corps

A Community-based volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) will be created as part of local Council efforts throughout the United States and supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The objective of the community-based Medical Reserve Corps will be to harness the strength of retired healthcare professionals to augment local health care capacity during an emergency. At present, no structured, coordinated system exists at the national level to incorporate the talent and knowledge of inactive physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals who are eager to volunteer during emergency situations. HHS will work with state and local jurisdictions to address issues of licensing and liability.

The MRC will provide state and local public health officials with a corps of volunteers to help expand capacity for the delivery of care and remove some of the burdens placed upon physicians, nurses, and others responding to a large-scale emergency affecting local communities. The MRC will assist communities in the delivery of necessary public health services during a crisis. The Department of Health and Human Services will provide guidance on how to create the MRC at the local level, and Veterans’ Affairs Hospitals in local communities will provide additional support, such as training, for the MRC. HHS will provide $10 million in Fiscal Year 2003 to support the initiative.

MRC members could assist emergency response teams in triaging patients -- sending the most seriously affected to hospitals and emergency rooms and providing care directly to those with less serious injuries. The MRC could also become another resource that could be deployed to other areas within states or regions in cases of extreme emergencies.

Triple the Capacity of Community Emergency Respose Teams (CERT)

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) provides training in emergency preparedness and in disaster response techniques. The training prepares members of neighborhoods, workplaces and schools to take a more active part in the emergency management planning for their areas and to prepare themselves and others for disasters. The CERT course is taught in the community by a trained team of first responders who have completed a CERT Train-the-Trainer (TTT) course conducted by their State Training Office for Emergency Management or FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute. CERT training includes: disaster preparedness; disaster fire suppression; disaster medical operations; and light search and rescue operations.

Responding to terrorism will be incorporated into the training for the CERT Teams, and the number of participants will be tripled over next two years, representing an additional 400,000 trained individuals across the country. Nationwide, approximately 200,000 individuals have completed the 18-plus hours of training. Communities in 28 States have initiated CERT training. FEMA will provide $61 million in Fiscal Year 2003 to support this CERT initiative.

Create Community Designation Program

Although no community can protect against all threats, we can provide incentives for local communities to take comprehensive steps and to maintain those efforts over time. The "USA Freedom Communities" program will be a voluntary initiative that will give a special designation to communities meeting certain criteria related to preventing and responding to terrorist threats. The criteria can include, among other things, the following measures: creation of a Citizen Corps Council; operation of VIPS, Neighborhood Watch, Medical Reserve Corps, and CERT training; strengthening all-hazard community planning; improving public awareness and education; and persuading citizens to support local first responders. Governors, working in cooperation with Mayors, other local officials, and FEMA, will determine whether or not a community has met the criteria for designation.

FEMA, DOJ, and HHS will jointly create criteria for this voluntary recognition within six months. The criteria will be adjusted based on coordination with organizations such as the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislators, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the International City Managers Association, and the Council of State Governments.

Create Operation TIPS: Terrorist Information and Prevention System

As part of the Citizen Corps, Operation TIPS -- the Terrorist Information and Prevention System -- will be a nationwide mechanism for reporting suspicious terrorist activity -- enlisting millions of American transportation workers, truckers, letter carriers, train conductors, ship captains and utility employees. Operation TIPS, a project of the U.S. Department of Justice, will start first as a pilot program in ten cities in America, affecting more than 1 million workers. Applications from cities will be accepted in Fall 2002 for inclusion as one of the pilot programs.

Operation TIPS will establish a national reporting system that would allow these workers, who have routines and are well positioned to recognize unusual events, to report suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities. Every participant in this new program will be given a Citizen Corps: Operation TIPS information sticker that could be affixed to the cab of the vehicle or placed in some other public location so that the toll free reporting number would be readily available to report any suspicious activity.

Everywhere in America a concerned worker will be able to call the 1-800 Hotline that can route calls immediately to law enforcement or a responder organization when appropriate. Importantly, this number will not supplant the existing 911 emergency system. Instead, it will take the stress off already burdened local systems needed for emergencies. The U.S. Department of Justice will provide $2 million in Fiscal Year 2003 to establish the hotline and assist with training and $6 million for the pilot programs and outreach materials.

Operation TIPS builds on the success of programs such as Highway Watch, which is a crime prevention partnership among the American Trucking Association and six states, and security training at the Global Maritime and Transportation School, which includes enhancing the ability of mariners aboard American vessels in island waterways and the Great Lakes to track and record potential threats.

Develop a "Citizens’ Preparedness Guidebook" and PSA Campaign
Preparing People in their Homes, Neighborhoods, Schools, Workplaces, Places of Worship, on Airlines, in Public Places

A national information campaign will carry the President’s message of citizen preparedness and public education. One of the resources of the Citizen Corps will be a Guidebook with tips on how to prepare for potential terrorism and a PSA campaign to encourage Americans to implement the suggestions in the Guidebook. The Guidebook and PSAs merge what is effective in crime prevention and in responding to natural disasters with the latest information on terrorism to give Americans guidance on how to prepare at home, in the community, at work, at the airport, in places of worship, and in public places.

The Citizens’ Preparedness Guidebook will be released by the Attorney General, and the related PSA campaign will run on the weeks following the release of this Guidebook.

Enhancing National and Community Service

Enhancing Service Opportunities through an Improved AmeriCorps

The Corporation for National and Community Service will revise and strengthen its AmeriCorps programs, starting with an increase of 25,000 members in 2003. CNCS will be asked to leverage government funds to produce more volunteerism, which will allow more people to contribute even more to their communities in a meaningful way.

The Administration will submit legislation -- the Citizen Service Act of 2002 -- that will enable AmeriCorps to be more responsive to community needs, focus the activities of AmeriCorps members to organize and support part-time volunteers, and revise post-service benefits to make national service more attractive.

The Citizen Service Act of 2002

In support of the challenge to every American to serve, the Administration will submit proposed legislation, the Citizen Service Act of 2002, with the following objectives:

  • To support and encourage the greater engagement of citizens in volunteering;
  • To provide greater assistance to secular and faith-based community organizations, including those that address the homeland security needs of the nation;
  • To make Federal support more accountable and effective; and
  • To make Federal funds more responsive to state and local needs.

The principal mechanism for achieving those objectives is re-authorizing the Corporation for National and Community Service and updating its programs and procedures. Changes to other legislation, including the Higher Education Act, are also proposed.


Created in 1993, but incorporating programs that date back to the 1960s, the Corporation for National and Community Service oversees three major programs that engage 1.5 million Americans in meeting community needs each year -- AmeriCorps, National Senior Service Corps, and Learn and Serve America. In every corner of the country, Americans are engaged in service supported through these programs.

AmeriCorps, its members, and the programs in which they serve provide a solid foundation upon which to build an expanded system of Federal support for service. By incorporating the program within the USA Freedom Corps, and by making the improvements identified below, there will be greater opportunities for Americans to serve.

AmeriCorps engages Americans in intensive, results-driven service each year. AmeriCorps members mobilize, manage, and train volunteers. The members, and the volunteers they help organize, teach children to read, make neighborhoods safer, mentor children, and help build affordable homes for low-income families.

Most AmeriCorps members are selected by and serve with projects such as Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood Watch organizations, the American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs, local faith-based organizations, and many more local community organizations. State service commissions, appointed by the Nation's governors, allocate resources to these organizations within their respective states. After their term of service, AmeriCorps members receive education awards to help finance college or pay back student loans.

There are three main components to AmeriCorps: 1) AmeriCorps*State and National, which provides grants to states and national organizations to support members in local nonprofit organizations across the country; 2) AmeriCorps*VISTA, in which members focus their activities on supporting community and faith-based organizations in meeting the needs of low-income communities; and 3) AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), which is a ten-month, full-time residential service program for men and women that combines the best practices of civilian service with the best aspects of military service, including leadership and team building. Slightly more than 50 percent of AmeriCorps members serve full-time and receive a small stipend, generally at the poverty level, in order to be able to serve. The other one-half serve part-time; they generally do not receive any living allowance but do receive an education award at the end of service.

In 2002, 50,000 AmeriCorps members will serve their country, including providing support for homeland security in programs that promote public safety, public health, and emergency preparedness. Current activities in support of homeland security include:

  • Public Safety. Public safety is one of the four primary service activities for AmeriCorps. Members carry out vital tasks including organizing neighborhood watch groups, community policing, victim assistance, fingerprinting, and other administrative tasks that free officers to do front line work. In five years, AmeriCorps has organized 46,000 safety patrols, and last year alone senior volunteers carried out 131,000 patrols that freed up 540,000 hours of police time.
  • Public Health. AmeriCorps members provide a variety of public health services including immunizing children and adults, serving as case managers, distributing health information, and providing health screenings. Last year alone, AmeriCorps members distributed health information to 500,000 people and conducted health screenings of 181,000 individuals, while Senior Corps volunteers assisted in immunizing 270,000 children and adults.
  • Disaster Preparedness and Relief. AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers specially trained in disaster relief have responded to disasters in more than 30 states. The Corporation has a long track record of working with FEMA and other relief agencies in helping run emergency shelters, assisting law enforcement, providing food and shelter, managing donations, and helping families and communities rebuild. Hundreds of national service volunteers have directly assisted victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks by providing family services, organizing blood drives, and raising funds and counseling victims families.

The New AmeriCorps

The strengthened AmeriCorps will be one key component of the USA Freedom Corps. The President proposes to provide community-based service opportunities through the AmeriCorps program, which has a current enrollment of 50,000, by an additional 25,000 members (+50 percent) in FY 2003. In turn, these members will leverage an additional 75,000 volunteers by using the AmeriCorps members to help recruit and manage volunteers for nonprofit organizations.

The new AmeriCorps will support:

  • Public safety. Under this proposal more members will serve with and in support of police departments and land management agencies. They will not be armed, or make arrests, but they will carry out vital tasks including organizing neighborhood watch groups, community policing, victim assistance, fingerprinting, and other tasks that free officers and other professionals to do front line work.
  • Public Health. Additional members will serve in public health organizations, primarily in low-income communities, to provide outreach to community members to make sure that adequate and accurate health information and support is available.
  • Disaster Preparedness and Relief. Additional AmeriCorps members and the volunteers they support, will help run emergency shelters, provide food and shelter, manage donations, assess and repair damage, and help families and communities rebuild following disasters.
  • Greater Public and Private Support for Teaching and Other National Service Programs. The FY 2003 budget will provide $10 million for the first-time use of challenge grants to support the expansion of teaching and other national service programs. Under these new challenge grants, private sources will provide at least 50 percent of the amount required to expand existing effective national service programs. The Corporation for National and Community Service has supported effective teacher programs in the past, such as Teach for America, but has not used an authority that targets federal funds to challenge the private sector to help expand these efforts.
  • Civilian Community Corps. The FY 2003 budget expands the National Civilian Community Corps, a residential national service program modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps, by 40 percent.
  • Community and Faith-Based Organizations. Additional AmeriCorps members will provide full-time or intensive service in support of small community and faith-based organizations, which often operate with limited resources. In particular, this Administration will expand and reshape AmeriCorps*VISTA, a component of AmeriCorps, for this purpose.

Legislative Changes That Will Strengthen AmeriCorps

In addition to expanding the number of service opportunities, the Administration will propose legislation to strengthen national service. The bill makes a number of changes that are intended to strengthen the roles of states and communities and achieve greater accountability in the use of public funds, including:

  • Strengthening the role of states consistent with principles of new federalism. This bill will strengthen the role of states and seeks to provide state commissions and other partners within the state with greater flexibility to coordinate the federal, state, and local resources, both public and private, that are available to promote service and volunteerism.
  • Providing for volunteer generation and mobilization as an explicit criterion for evaluating and funding programs. Federal resources will be targeted to support volunteer efforts within the community.
  • Assuring accountability for results. Grantees must meet accountability measures established by the Corporation. The Chief Executive Officer is given authority to terminate or reduce funding for those organizations not meeting the standards.
  • Promoting greater sustainability of programs. The Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation is given authority to take additional measures to assure the sustainability of programs with non-Federal resources.

The bill will also propose:

  • Making resource mobilization a fundamental purpose of AmeriCorps. Currently, many AmeriCorps members focus on providing direct service and do not link adequately with volunteer programs in the communities. Further, members are limited by statute in carrying out resource mobilization activities, such as organizational capacity building and fundraising. This provision will set resource mobilization as a fundamental purpose of AmeriCorps and increase the types of support AmeriCorps members can provide to the nonprofit organization in which they serve.
  • Expanding residential programs and creating "reserve" service corps, in conjunction with states, to support homeland security throughout the country. The activities of these residential corps and reserves will include support for public safety, public health, and disaster relief and preparedness.
  • Allowing seniors to earn scholarships that can be given to their grandchildren or designated individuals.
  • Enhance uses of current postservice benefits to allow a volunteer to have not only education awards but also options to use the funds for a downpayment on a home, job training, or health care costs.
  • Working with Congress to eliminate the taxation of the education award to make it comparable to other programs, such as the GI Bill, where financial aid for education is provided in exchange for service to the Nation.
  • Using more cost-effective approaches, the Corporation for National and Community Service will provide a range of support to nonprofit organizations depending upon their needs and financial capacities. Currently, some low-cost approaches are limited to demonstration projects.
  • Empowering local community and faith-based organizations through better utilization of and changes to AmeriCorps*VISTA, a component of AmeriCorps that focuses on antipoverty strategies. Local organizations will recruit, select, place, and provide benefits to AmeriCorps*VISTA members, thereby providing greater authority to nonprofit organizations in program design and delivery.
  • Pilot alternative approaches to the delivery of AmeriCorps. Innovative and flexible programs need to be created which will allow more people to volunteer in more organizations. To date, the Corporation has employed a limited number of strategies and models for national service. In order to make service a common expectation and to support more types of nonprofit organizations, there is a need to explore additional models and approaches.

Supporting Senior Corps

The Corporation for National and Community Service will expand senior service opportunities by an additional 100,000 members in 2003 so that more seniors will have more opportunities to participate in volunteer activities within their communities.

As part of the Citizen Service Act of 2002, the Administration will propose to revise and strengthen the senior service programs administered by the Federal Government so that older Americans will have expanded opportunities to serve in their communities, including supporting the efforts of public organizations charged with public safety, health, and emergency preparedness.

Expanding Senior Service by 100,000 Members

The Corporation for National and Community Service administers the National Senior Service Corps, which provides opportunities today for approximately 500,000 older Americans to serve their communities. The Senior Corps is comprised of three major programs: the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP); the Foster Grandparent Program (FGP); and the Senior Companion Program (SCP). The Corporation makes grants to nonprofit organizations and public entities to support these programs.

  • RSVP matches older Americans who are willing to help with local problems in their communities. RSVP volunteers choose how and where they want to serve, and they determine how many hours a week they serve. RSVP volunteers provide a wide range of important services, such as tutoring youth, responding to natural disasters, serving as citizen patrols for local police departments, teaching parenting skills to teen parents, getting children immunized, and mentoring troubled youth. RSVP volunteers serve without stipend for an average of four hours per week.
  • Foster Grandparents provide valuable aid to children and youth with exceptional needs. Foster Grandparents serve in schools, hospitals, drug treatment centers, correctional institutions, and Head Start and day care centers. Foster Grandparents help abused and neglected children, mentor troubled teenagers and young mothers, and care for premature infants and children with physical disabilities.
  • Senior Companions provide assistance to frail, homebound individuals, most of them elderly. These clients have difficulties with daily living tasks, and Senior Companions help them retain their dignity and independence.

In both the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs, members are low-income, serve 20 hours per week, and receive a modest stipend of $2.65 per hour.

In addition, if we create new roles, opportunities, and institutions built on the best from our past experience and incorporating emerging knowledge about the preferences of coming waves of retirees, we will enable communities to meet some of their most pressing needs.

The approach being proposed includes engaging seniors in high-impact service activities, an emphasis on the use of teams, opportunities for combining learning and service, development of leadership among the participants, flexible options for involvement, and low unit cost.

The FY 2003 budget will call for providing senior service opportunities for more than 100,000 volunteers. These individuals will support the following efforts:

  • Public safety. Seniors will volunteer part-time with and for police departments and nonprofit organizations supporting public safety. They will carry out vital tasks including organizing neighborhood watch groups, community policing, victim assistance, fingerprinting and other tasks that free officers and other professionals to do front line work.
  • Public Health. Seniors will volunteer in hospitals and public health clinics, expanding the capacity of these entities to provide for healthy communities.

  • Disaster Preparedness and Relief. Veterans and senior volunteers will provide food and shelter and help families and communities rebuild following disasters.

  • Other Community Needs. An expanded number of senior volunteers will provide a wide range of important services in communities such as tutoring youth, teaching parenting skills to teen parents, mentoring troubled youth, helping other seniors complete income tax forms, conducting groundwater protection surveys, providing in-home respite care with the frail elderly, providing support services to youth ex-offenders, teaching computer classes at elementary schools, reading to hospitalized children, managing grief counseling groups, bringing meals to the terminally ill, testing water for pollutants and tracking down their sources, driving the blind to doctors appointments, and providing a human touch to AIDS babies.

Strengthening Senior Service

In addition to expanding service opportunities, the Bush Administration will propose a series of changes to strengthen opportunities for senior service, including:

  • Lowering the age for participation from 60 to 55 in the National Senior Service Corps.

  • Introducing new incentives for participation by seniors in AmeriCorps, including earning scholarships through service that may be transferred to grandchildren or another designated individual, as well as piloting the use of awards for prescription drugs.

  • Expanding training. The Administration will support additional training for projects and senior volunteers in areas such as homeland security.

  • Authorizing new research. The Administration will support new research on the best practices for, and benefits of, engaging seniors in service to their community.

  • Providing greater flexibility to local communities in the use of Federal resources. The Administration will ease requirements that govern the activities of volunteers, such as making more flexible the number of hours per week that individuals must serve in the stipended programs under the National Senior Service Corps.

  • Reducing the administrative burden placed on projects for carrying out volunteer programs. The Administration will support streamlined grants that eliminate administrative requirements and tie support to outcomes.

Providing Greater Service Opportunities for College Students

The Administration will submit legislation to amend the Higher Education Act to require every college and university to devote 50 percent of its Federal Work Study funds to community service, commonly known as Serve Study. In any given year, at least five percent of the students will be expected to work in the homeland security fields of public safety, public health, and emergency preparedness.

Currently, in addition to allowing students to finance their education through on-campus jobs such as working in college libraries, cafeterias, and administrative offices, the Federal Work Study Program offers opportunities for students to serve in nonprofit and public organizations, and more than 100,000 students do so. They tutor children, work in public health clinics, help staff homeless shelters, and provide valuable assistance to nonprofit organizations.

The Higher Education Act currently mandates that institutions of higher education devote at least 7 percent of their Federal Work Study funds to community service, though the average devoted to community service across the country is approximately 14 percent. Many institutions devote an even higher percentage.

The recommended increase to a minimum of 50 percent of Work Study resources for community service will mean that 250,000 to 300,000 additional students will serve an average of 10 hours a week in nonprofit organizations across the country. A portion of these additional students will help provide homeland security by serving in the areas of public safety, public health, and emergency preparedness.

The proposal will include incentives for institutions of higher education to implement these changes, which will occur over time.

Strengthening the Peace Corps

Established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has mobilized more than 160,000 volunteers in 135 countries to "promote world peace and friendship." Over the past 40 years, Americans of all ages have given two or more years of service to help meet the need for trained men and women in developing countries and to promote a better understanding between Americans and citizens of other nations. President Kennedy’s idea captivated the Nation and continues to instill in new generations of Americans the importance of serving citizens throughout the world.

In June of 1966, the Peace Corps had more than 15,000 volunteers working in the field, the largest number in its history. Today, the number of volunteers is less than half that. We have an obligation to carry on this noble mission, to provide more service opportunities, and to inspire a new generation of Americans to serve abroad.

The Peace Corps has also launched innovative new programs to address important needs. One example is the Crisis Corps, which allows returning volunteers to provide short-term assistance during natural disasters and humanitarian crises. Crisis Corps volunteers have worked on reconstruction efforts in the Caribbean and Central American countries devastated by Hurricanes Georges and Mitch, provided assistance to refugees in Guinea, and are working today in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Former volunteers can be rapidly deployed to meet urgent needs because they know the language, culture, and traditions of the areas in which they serve.

In order to strengthen the Peace Corps, continue its Crisis Corps mission of serving urgent needs, and provide new opportunities in other countries, the Administration is proposing the following initiatives as part of the USA Freedom Corps:

  • Double the number of Peace Corps volunteers within 5 years, returning the number of volunteers to near its historically high level of 15,000.
  • Support Reconstruction Efforts in Afghanistan through the Crisis Corps. The Peace Corps will soon send an assessment team to Afghanistan to determine the type of assistance volunteers can provide to help in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The goal will be to deploy Crisis Corps volunteers to Afghanistan as quickly as possible, consistent with the safety and security of Crisis Corps volunteers.
  • Enter More Countries in 2002. The Administration is sending Peace Corps volunteers to re-enter Peru. The Administration will work with other countries that do not have Peace Corps volunteers, including more Islamic countries and East Timor, the first nation to be created in the 21st Century. All decisions will be made in a manner consistent with the safety and security of volunteers.
  • The Administration is requesting more than $200 million in Fiscal Years 2003 -- 2007 for these initiatives.

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