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Background on Citizen Corps

President Bush is calling on Congress to pass a Citizen Service Act this legislative session that will encompass reforms and principles he will outline today. Together, these reforms and principles will create meaningful changes in the domestic service programs that are administered primarily by the Corporation for National and Community Service - an independent Federal agency created to administer most of the major federally funded domestic volunteer and community service programs.

The National and Community Service Act is the statute that originally authorized several of the programs administered by the Corporation including: AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America and the National Civilian Community Corps. The Domestic Volunteer Service Act authorizes the Corporation's Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program and the National Senior Volunteer Corps - known as Senior Corps. Both statutes have been pending reauthorization by Congress since the end of fiscal year 1996. As a result, none of the Corporation’s programs has had the benefit of a thorough review and discussion by the Congress for nearly a decade.

The programs fall into three groups:

  • AmeriCorps grants support a network of community and volunteer service opportunities for participants to work with community service organizations working to meet the educational, public safety or environmental needs of America's communities. Since the President's call to service, applicant interest in the AmeriCorps program is up dramatically, with online applications increasing 73 percent.
  • Senior Corps includes the Foster Grandparent Program, the Senior Companion Program, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, each of which is designed to utilize the skills of senior citizens within their communities. Since the President’s call to service, interest in Senior Corps is also up, with hits to its web site increasing 437 percent .
  • Learn and Serve America includes three service-learning programs: community based programs for school-age children, school-based programs for K-12 students, and higher education initiatives to involve college and university students in community service. Service-learning is a teaching method by which students or participants learn and develop skills and concepts through active participation in service activities that meet the needs of their communities.

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