Points of Light Institute congratulates the 19 US state service commissions awarded Volunteer Generation Fund grants totaling US$4 million from the Corporation for National and Community Service on August 24, 2010.
This is the first cycle of grants issued through this ground-breaking Fund which was created in 2009 as a part of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. 'One of the primary aims of the Serve America Act was to expand the reach of and enhance the effectiveness of volunteer activities in response to national needs in education, poverty alleviation, health care, unemployment, and the environment,' said Points of Light CEO Michelle Nunn, 'This is an exciting milestone in the realization of a strong volunteer infrastructure, broadening and strengthening civic engagement initiatives around the country.'
Points of Light Institute was one of the four co-conveners of Service Nation which advocated for the Serve America Act and helped to craft the Volunteer Generation Fund. The Fund provides grants to nonprofits and state service commissions to recruit, manage and support volunteers through local volunteer connector organizations. Congress appropriated US$4 million for the Fund last year, and the President's proposed FY2011 budget for the Fund is US$10 million. The Serve America Act authorized US$50 million for the Fund in the first year and US$60 million in FY2011.
'These grants represent an important initial investment in the power of America's citizens to tackle our tough problems. They will galvanize our nation's human capital and be highly leveraged - in sweat equity and local dollars,' according to Nunn. 'The amount appropriated for the Volunteer Generation Fund represents only a small share of the total potential authorized dollars by the Serve America Act and we hope that the results will lead Congress to extend their investment in volunteerism as a strategy for local, grassroots solutions to tough community problems.'
The awards ranged from US$75,000 (Rhode Island) to over US$400,000 (Michigan). They include projects ranging from a coordinated social service response to the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Florida as well as statewide initiatives to promote volunteer leaders, to encourage service among specific demographic groups and to build awareness of national days of service such as Martin Luther King Day of Service and the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance.
Tom Branen, the Executive Director of America's Service Commissions, said that state service commissions are ready to partner with community volunteer organizations and nonprofits to ensure that volunteer efforts are well-managed and effective.
'One aspect of the promise of the Serve America Act was ramping up and targeting community volunteering and these grants and subgrants are welcome opportunities to see that promise realized.'
'With many states anticipating cuts in critical social services and the federal government facing low or no growth in domestic spending, we must apply cost-effective initiatives to address pressing social ills,' added Nunn. 'These projects supported by the Volunteer Generation Fund are evidence that innovation is alive and well at the local level and that committed volunteers are ready to address real community problems in creative ways.'
About Points of Light Institute
Points of Light Institute inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. The Institute has a global focus to redefine volunteerism and civic engagement for the 21st century, putting people at the center of community problem solving. We are organized to innovate, incubate and activate new ideas that help people act upon their power to make a difference. Points of Light Institute operates three dynamic business units that share our mission: HandsOn Network, MissionFish and the Civic Incubator.