AmeriCorps is a government-sponsored volunteer program that aims to tackle America's toughest social problems. Often called the "Peace Corps for the United States," AmeriCorps celebrates its 5th anniversary this summer. Though the program has faced budget difficulties and sometimes-waning Congressional support, it continues to attract young Americans who want to earn money for college while helping their country.
To date, more than 100,000 AmeriCorps volunteers have been sent to more than 4,000 communities, served nearly 33 million people, mobilized nearly 2 million volunteers, worked with more than two million children, helped more than 200,000 senior citizens live independently and built or rehabilitated more than 25,000 homes.
AmeriCorps members vary in age, skills and backgrounds. The typical term of service is between 10 months and one year. Volunteers do not receive a salary, but do receive a modest living allowance and free health insurance. Upon completion of their service, Americorps volunteers receive an education award of $4,725 that can be used toward paying off student loans.
AmeriCorps often partners with established charities. For example, an AmeriCorps volunteer may oversee a worksite for Habitat for Humanity or create an after-school program for The Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Another unique partnership with The American Red Cross has created the AmeriCorps National Rapid Response Corps in Los Angeles, Miami, and eight other cities. Volunteers provide emergency food, shelter and clothing to disaster victims and increase preparedness among children and youth in underserved areas.
The program can accommodate volunteers with specific or broad interests. The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps is a 10-month residential national service program for people who want a variety of responsibilities. Members live and work out of one of five regional offices. AmeriCorps members can also get involved in their own communities through the AmeriCorps State or National Direct programs. Volunteers in the AmeriCorps*VISTA program work to develop and strengthen community-based service organizations. Finally, the AmeriCorps Helping to Rebuild Communities on the Gulf Coast program seeks people over 18 years of age to provide help with cleaning, building and volunteer coordination in that area.
How to Get Involved
If you are interested in becoming an AmeriCorps volunteer, visit the I'm ready to serve Americorps page.