AmeriCorps expansion should be hailed

Volunteers receive a $4,725 scholarship for college education, or loans.

A little more than a week ago, President Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law. The $5.7 billion bill will more than triple the size of the domestic volunteer group AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000, with a focus, among a long list of goals, on increasing education, helping the needy and improving energy efficiency across America. Created in 1993, AmeriCorps was the work of President Bill Clinton, who described the program as âÄúdomestic Peace Corps.âÄù Volunteers under AmeriCorps sign up for assignments in hundreds of different programs, ranging from 10 months to a year. During that period, volunteers receive a modest living salary and, at times, housing. Upon completion of a full year of service, volunteers receive a $4,725 scholarship for college education or loans. To date, more than 540,000 people have taken part in the program. Instead of volunteering for a Saturday afternoon, individuals can safely spend a year working in community service. The increased funding ensures that more people can contribute to the well-being of our nation without worrying about the financial burden of college. While it seems that many members of this nation look for Capitol Hill or Wall Street to solve our domestic woes, the volunteers of AmeriCorps may help hasten the recovery. The first line of the pledge all volunteers take is: âÄúI will get things done for America âÄî to make our people safer, smarter and healthier.âÄù While itâÄôs still waiting for funding from Congress, we urge congressmen to continue on this road of developing a strong ethic of community service nationwide. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Daily Nebraskan at the University of Nebraska. Please send comments to [email protected]