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Impact of Kennedy Serve America Act Discussed with Maine’s Political Leaders

June 27th, 2009

AUGUSTA – Representative Michael Michaud, Allison Geagan, Staff Assistant to Senator Olympia Snowe and Emma Jakins from Senator Susan Collins office met with members of the Maine Commission for Community Service along with representatives of Maine’s National Service programs (AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Learn & Serve) and nonprofits Saturday June, 27th at the United Technology Center in Bangor.

The morning session explored the potential opportunities for Maine as a result of passage in April of the Kennedy Serve America Act. The bill which became law on April 21, 2009, expanded National Service programs and added new opportunities to strengthen community and faith-based volunteer programs through training and technical assistance.

Commission Chair-elect Mary-Anne Beal of Waterville noted “This is a very exciting time in history for national service. The new legislation provides great opportunities for Maine citizens and communities.”

In the federal budget that is currently under consideration, funding is proposed for two of the newly created programs – the Social Innovation Fund and the Volunteer Generation Fund. The latter would provide sustainability to an eight-year-old Maine Commission initiative to bring professional development and training opportunities to managers of volunteers throughout the state.

During the meeting, considerable excitement was evident relative to programs likely to be funded in 2011 or later. In particular, Silver Scholars would give Maine volunteer programs a meaningful way to recognize those volunteers who serve 350 hours in a year. The proposed program allows citizens 55 years of age and older to qualify for a $1,000 education award that they can reserve in the name of a grandchild, foster child, or their own child.  Another new program of strong interest is Summer of Service which would bring service-learning out of the school and into summer programs for youth. The program authorizes up to $500 scholarship for 6-12 graders who complete 100 hours of service during a summer.

The Maine Commission for Community Service builds capacity and sustainability in Maine's volunteer sector by funding service programs, developing managers of volunteers, raising awareness of the scope and impact of the sector, and encouraging an ethic of service