The Belle Center

LOCAL AMERICORPS MEMBERS AND SERVICES ON NATIONAL CHOPPING BLOCK

LOCAL AMERICORPS MEMBERS AND SERVICES ON NATIONAL CHOPPING BLOCK

[Buffalo, NY] – Hundreds of local AmeriCorps members, and their service in Western New York, risk being eliminated if the Continuing Resolution budget bill introduced by the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee is passed. The Resolution, which would also cut funding for NPR and PBS, would eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service, the parent agency for AmeriCorps programs, in the midst of the 2011program year.

If left unchanged, the current language presented in the Resolution, recently passed by the House of Representatives, would mean an immediate, mid-year elimination of all AmeriCorps programs in the nation. Local AmeriCorps members serve through programs run by WNY AmeriCorps, Buffalo AmeriCorps from The Belle Center, and Self Advocacy AmeriCorps, in team-based crews or placed in supportive roles in local schools and non-profits.

Last year, over 800 people served as AmeriCorps members in WNY:

· Delivering over 2.4 Million lbs of food to area pantries to feed local families, enough to feed 316 families-of-four three meals a day for an entire year
· Serving over 40,000 local children, including providing significant tutoring services to almost 10,000 students
· Recruiting over 30,000 WNYers as volunteers, engaging them in over 80,000 hours of service to their community
· Receiving over $1 Million in federal scholarships to continue their education, often in local universities
· Remaining in WNY; encouraging a healthy local economy by retaining citizens while attracting college graduates from outside of WNY

“Hundreds of non-profits, schools, and educational organizations would be damaged by the elimination of AmeriCorps funding in Western New York, with some valuable non-profits possibly left unable to operate. These non-profits provide healthcare services to needy families on the West Side, they feed our neighbors in hard times, they provide a place for the homeless to escape our freezing weather, and they provide education to our children.” said Mark P. Lazzara, CEO of WNY AmeriCorps. “These are not luxuries, these are basic human needs. These are basic human rights.”

“Without the Corporation for National and Community Service the generations to come will be without this essential entity that not only allows them to develop an ethic of service, but be change agents and serve and in their own communities.” Said Nestor Hernandez, Executive Director of The Belle Center. “We must not allow the Corporation for National and Community Service to die; it means too much to the progress of our communities and the nation!”

A flood of initiatives to restore funding to the Corporation for National and Community Service have started across the internet, fueled largely by AmeriCorps alumni. Initiatives include SaveService.org and AmeriCorpsAlums.org as well as facebook movements such as “Stand Up for AmeriCorps.” The “Save AmeriCorps” campaign is also currently the most popular petition on Change.org, with 5-times the number of signatures than the petition to save NPR and PBS funding.

Other youth-service initiatives also risk defunding, including YouthBuild, which is focused on preparing at-risk youth to work as productive members of society in skilled trades.

For more information on the Continuing Resolution, visit http://www.SaveService.org

For more information on local AmeriCorps programs, visit http://www.WNYAmeriCorps.org and http://www.thebellecenter.org/americorps.