Updated Report: Expanding Service Years in States & Local Communities

Posted by America's Service Commissions on February 1, 2022

A new report from America’s Service Commissions, AmeriCorps, and Service Year Alliance, Expanding Service Years in States and Local Communities, highlights the power and potential of expanding national service in towns, cities, and states across America as the nation faces the difficult challenge of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to both the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, local leaders have stepped up time and again over the past year and a half to provide their cities and states with hyper-local resources and support to weather these challenges. But local and state governments are finding themselves increasingly strapped for resources, and navigating federal funding opportunities — and identifying programming that works — can be extremely complex.

Enter national service: a unique and widely accessible public-private partnership that can deliver federal resources relatively quickly as a cost-effective, impactful, and locally-driven tool to address unmet needs in both rural and urban communities.

Most well-known for its flagship program AmeriCorps, national service provides a meaningful service opportunity to people of all ages that can transform lives, fuel civic renewal, and meet critical community needs.

First published in 2017, and newly updated in 2021, this report showcases real-world examples of how governors, state legislators, and municipal leaders are leveraging, incentivizing, maximizing, and expanding AmeriCorps and national service in their states to meet critical community needs while also attracting and retaining talent. Examples of public-private partnerships and programs are featured from a wide variety of states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and more.

“We hope the examples shared in this toolkit can serve as concrete models for how elected officials, regardless of political affiliation, have advanced service as a strategy in partnership with our nation’s 52 state service commissions and local AmeriCorps programs,” said Kaira Esgate, CEO of America’s Service Commissions. “Over the course of the past 25 years, state service commissions have partnered with governors and other elected officials to demonstrate that service is not only a cost-effective way to address both emerging and persistent community needs in education, environment, health and human services, public safety, disaster preparedness, and emergency response – but also a powerful way to cultivate and train the next generation of leaders in their states.”

“At this challenging time in our nation’s history, AmeriCorps is a resource to help state and local leaders meet the most pressing needs in their communities,” said AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith. “AmeriCorps is eager to partner with elected officials at every level to support education, promote public health, tackle climate change, strengthen workforce pathways, and meet other challenges. We hope this report will encourage more state and local leaders to use national service to solve urgent problems by bringing people together to serve in their communities.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the flexibility and resilience of service years in the face of crisis,” said Kristen Bennett, Chief Strategy Officer at Service Year Alliance. “Across the country, states and governors, as well as mayors and county executives in cities, towns, and counties are taking concrete steps to make service years stronger, more impactful, and more resilient. This revised toolkit provides real-world examples for policymakers and elected officials on the importance of state and local collaboration and how best to leverage programs like AmeriCorps in their communities to make service years a more effective tool to meet their needs.”

View or download the publication.

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