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New Grant Awards by State Service Commission Target Community Health and Education Needs

July 5th, 2012

americorps logoAUGUSTA - The Maine Commission for Community Service announced final selection of the grant recipients for AmeriCorps*State programs that will operate from fall 2012 though summer 2015. Four organizations will be awarded more than 65 AmeriCorps member positions and funds to support recruitment, selection, training, supervision, and living allowances for the Members.  While serving in communities across Maine, AmeriCorps members will volunteer nearly 80,000 hours each year.

AmeriCorps*State is one of three National Service programs through which individuals between 17 and 70 serve communities on a full-time (1700 hours) or part-time basis. They address high priority community needs through direct service activities organized and overseen by nonprofits, schools, or local units of government. AmeriCorps members who complete their terms of service qualify for financial aid for higher education that can be used to reduce their student debt or continue their education. Members over the age of 55 can opt to transfer the financial aid award to a child or grandchild.

The Maine competition this year sought proposals that would tackle one of three needs identified by communities as critical and likely to change due to intense volunteer service. The needs were decreased obesity and prevention of diabetes; increased adoption of service-learning as a teaching method in order to increase student success; and, increased completion of high school as well as post-secondary education.

Island Institute of Rockland was selected to receive $130,000 to support ten full-time AmeriCorps Island Fellows serving in island communities. These AmeriCorps members will implement service-learning as a way to engage students and local volunteers in meeting critical community needs, while improving student academic engagement. The Program will aim to increase the adoption of service-learning as a method of teaching by educators in school districts and after- school or summer youth programs. Christine Wolfe of Island Institute is the program director.

RSU#14/REAL School of Windham and Falmouth was awarded $131,000 and fourteen AmeriCorps member positions. At the REAL School AmeriCorps members will work with highly at-risk students to connect them with the community through service-learning. During the three-year grant period, the AmeriCorps members also will recruit community volunteers in order to build sustainability in the approach to increasing student engagement, attendance, and academic success. Pender Makin is of the REAL School is the new AmeriCorps program director.

Goodwill Industries of Northern New England successfully competed to implement a new AmeriCorps program model that leverages their past experience with AmeriCorps. The Multi-lingual Leadership Corps will operate under a $260,000 grant with 39 AmeriCorps positions. Together with 100 community volunteers, the AmeriCorps members will help English Language Learner students in Greater Portland, Lewiston, and Auburn make stronger connections with schools, develop employment skills, and prepare for post-secondary education.  Joely Ross is the program director for the Multi-lingual Leadership Corps.

FoodCorps is a nationwide nonprofit based in New York City that has had a few AmeriCorps members placed in Maine during 2011. They successfully applied to the Maine Commission for Community Service to partner with UMaine Cooperative Extension and operate a program dedicated to Maine needs. The initial funding of $78,000 will support at least six full-time AmeriCorps members who will tackle childhood obesity and food insecurity. Their service activities with children will address nutrition education, food choices, understanding of food production, and lifestyle choices that will promote health and wellness. The Maine contact for FoodCorps is Ellen Libby of UMaine Cooperative Extension.

The Maine Commission for Community Service administers the AmeriCorps funds allotted to Maine. Over the last three years, 490 AmeriCorps members served in 147 community agencies and schools where they tackled economic development, education, public safety, housing, and natural resource needs. In the process, they qualified for a total of $1.4 million in higher ed financial aid.

Since 1994, the Commission has worked to build capacity and sustainability in Maine's volunteer and service communities by funding programs, developing managers of volunteers and service-learning educators, raising awareness of volunteer sector issues, and promoting service as a strategy or addressing community issues.

Maryalice Crofton, Executive Director
Maine Commission for Community Service