A Project of the Michigan Community Service Commission
In 1993, President William Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act to create AmeriCorps and expand opportunities for Americans to serve their communities. Supported through federal funds, AmeriCorps is a national service program that engages people in service activities to address local challenges. AmeriCorps includes various programs: AmeriCorps Vista, AmeriCorps NCCC, and AmeriCorps State and National.
Michigan’s AmeriCorps, specifically, was formed by the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) in 1994 as a means of administering federal funds at the state level for qualifying AmeriCorps State programs.
MSCS supports the development of new AmeriCorps programs within the state and also provides training and technical assistance for Michigan’s existing AmeriCorps State programs. Currently, MCSC lists the following critical state issues and priorities for new and recompeting AmeriCorps programs: education, economic opportunity, disaster preparedness and response, veterans and their families, environmental stewardship, and public safety.
The funding for Michigan’s AmeriCorps goes toward placing individuals for service within community and faith-based organizations, public agencies, and K12 and higher education institutions. AmeriCorps State members serve in a variety of ways — they help at-risk/vulnerable populations, strengthen nonprofits and communities, and transform lives (including their own). In return for their service commitment, members receive a modest living stipend, valuable work skills and training, and, upon successful completion, educational support through the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.
In addition to serving in their designated program, AmeriCorps members experience meaningful opportunities to engage in additional community volunteer projects alongside other AmeriCorps programs, civic leaders and local residents. This has been a major goal of AmeriCorps since its founding in 1994. “One aim of AmeriCorps is to instill the volunteerism ethic in today’s young people,” said Kyle Caldwell, who was the special projects director of MCSC during the inaugural year of Michigan’s AmeriCorps. “We want young people to see themselves in the larger picture as citizens of Michigan who want to make a difference” (see historical document below).
Since 1994, more than 27,000 Michigan residents have completed a year of service, dedicating more than 38 million hours of service and earning more than $86 million in Segal Education Awards. In the years between 2012 to 2014 alone, more than 1,400 AmeriCorps members provided foreclosure prevention and financial counseling, helped homeless individuals and families find permanent housing, organized literacy and tutoring programs for underperforming youth, mentored and supported youth from disadvantaged circumstances, preserved our environment, built houses, recruited volunteers, and more.
Each year, Michigan’s AmeriCorps programs apply and report directly to the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) for access to federal funding. In addition to the Michigan’s AmeriCorps programs, there are various other active AmeriCorps programs in Michigan, such as AmeriCorps VISTA. The Michigan Nonprofit Association, for example, hosted 35 VISTA members throughout the 2014-2015 program year. The largest distinction between Michigan’s AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA programs is that AmeriCorps VISTA receives federal funding directly from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which has a state office in Detroit, Michigan. AmeriCorps VISTA is a national program focused on alleviating poverty. Michigan’s AmeriCorps, on the other hand, is a state program that focuses on utilizing strategic service to solve regional and state issues.