Berkley Votes For New National Service Program, Increased Volunteer Opportunities
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today voted to send President Obama legislation that will launch a new generation of national service and volunteerism. The House passed The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act by a vote of 275 to 149.
"America's volunteers are working to improve lives and communities through their service to our nation and this legislation will promote this worthwhile activity. From serving our veterans to promoting clean energy, education and healthier communities, the four service corps created by our bill will provide new volunteer opportunities in Nevada and nationwide. Las Vegas and communities throughout the U.S. will be enriched by the commitment to public service that this bill encourages for students, seniors and all ages in between," said Berkley. "National service through this program will also enable students to directly earn money to help cover the cost of an education. Older Americans who give of their time can also transfer the money they earn to a child or grandchild to pay for college -- so this is a win-win for everyone."
The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, H.R. 1388, will create 175,000 new volunteer opportunities for Americans to help meet the nation's pressing challenges, including energy, education, health care, veterans' needs, and more.
The bill creates opportunities for Americans of all ages to engage in service and will more than triple the number of volunteers serving nationwide from 75,000 to 250,000. The act establishes four new service corps: a Clean Energy Corps to increase energy efficiency and conservation, an Education Corps to help increase student engagement, achievement and graduation, a Healthy Futures Corps to help improve health care access, and a Veterans Service Corps to enhance services for veterans. These 175,000 new volunteer opportunities will expand current AmeriCorps programs and provide members for these four new service corps.
The legislation will also increase the education award service members receive in exchange for their contributions to $5,350 for next year, the same as the maximum Pell Grant scholarship, and permanently link it to match any future increases in the Pell Grant. It also creates new opportunities for older Americans and retirees and allows them to transfer their education awards -- up to $1,000 for at least 350 hours of service -- to a child, foster child or grandchild. A new Summer of Service program will also be established to engage middle and high school students in service. Those participating can earn a $500 education award to put toward college.