H.R. 1388: Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act

H.R. 1388

Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act

Sponsor
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy

Date
March 18, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

H.R. 1388 was introduced by Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and reported out of the Committee of Education and Labor by a vote of 34 to 3 on March 11, 2009. It is expected to be considered on the floor under a structured rule on Wednesday, March 18, 2009.

H. R. 1388 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House under a structured rule which makes in order 11 amendments. The rule provides one hour of general debate and waives all points of order against consideration of the bill except for clauses 9 and 10 of rule XXI (earmarks and paygo). The rule provides that the amendment in the nature of a substitute recommended by the Committee on Education and Labor shall be considered as an original bill for the purpose of amendment.

Bill Summary

Title I - Amendments to National and Community Service Act of 1990

Subtitle A

H.R. 1388 expands service learning programs by offering year-round opportunities for children and youth and providing service opportunities for retirees.  In addition, it requires the Director of the Corporation for National and Community Service to encourage members of the Baby Boom generation to volunteer.  The bill also includes a Sense of Congress that AmeriCorps programs should grow to reach 250,000 participants by 2014 (this number is up from 100,000 in the 110th Congress version of the bill.) 

Subtitle B - Service Learning
The Learn and Service America program awards grants to community organizations and education institutions that implement or promote service-learning programs to increase the likelihood that student participants will become more civically engaged and volunteer more in their communities.  The bill eliminates the current Community-Based Learn and Serve programs and creates two new Learn and Service programs (see below). 

 

Service Learning:  The bill restructures the funding streams available under the service learning authorization to provide 60 percent of the funds to programs for elementary and secondary students; 25 percent of the funds to higher education programs; and 15 percent of the funds to innovative and demonstration service-learning programs.  (Under current law, 63.75 percent of the funds are available to the programs for elementary and secondary students; 11.25 percent is available for community-based programs for school-age youth; and 35 percent is available for higher education programs.)

Elementary and Secondary Students:  H.R. 1388 establishes a "Summer of Service" program that would provide students who complete 100 hours of service a $500 education award (can be up to $1,000 if the student is disadvantaged).  H.R 1388 also increases the cap that grantees can spend on administrative expenses from 5 percent to 6 percent.

Higher Education:  H.R 1388 allows institutions of higher education to incorporate service learning as a part of health professions, criminal justice, public policy, and teacher education curricula.  In addition, it provides special consideration of applications submitted by Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities.  H.R. 1388 requires institutions of higher education to meet the requirements for the Federal Work Study program to participate. 

Campuses of Service (new program):  H.R. 1388 creates a new program to designate 25 institutions as "Campuses of Service."  The selection criteria will be based on the number of service learning courses offered, percentage of federal work study funds spent on community service, etc.

Innovative Service Learning Programs and Research:  H.R. 1388 creates a new program to provide 3-year competitive grants that can be used to integrate service learning into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum in elementary, secondary and post-secondary institutions.  In addition, grants can be provided to programs with a focus on energy conservation, emergency and disaster preparedness, emerging technologies for low-income communities, mentoring of middle school youth by high school youth, and research and evaluation on service learning. 

Authorization Level:  In FY 2007, service learning programs were funded at $37 million.  This bill authorizes $97 million for fiscal year 2010 and such sums for subsequent years.  This is a 262 percent proposed spending increase. 

Subtitle C - National Service Trust Program

AmeriCorps:  H.R. 1388 reauthorizes "such sums" for AmeriCorps.  In Fiscal Year 2009, the program received $271.2 million in funding.  The bill prohibits the Corporation from providing grants directly to other federal agencies to operate national service organizations.  In addition, it increases the amount of the grant allowed for administrative costs from 5 percent to 6 percent.

H.R. 1388 recognizes the following national service programs eligible for program assistance:  

  •          Education Corps
  •          Healthy Futures Corps (to identify unmet health needs within communities)
  •          Clean Energy Corps (to identify unmet environmental needs within communities)
  •          Veterans' Corps
  •          Opportunity Corps

The bill adds additional accountability measures, and new indicators of achievement for each new Corps.  The bill also requires the Corporation to report to Congress about the projects funded under the different Corps and whether they are meeting their requirements.  The bill also allows the Corporation to phase in a fixed price grant which will eliminate administrative requirements that have kept smaller, more local, organizations from participating in the program.

With regard to the Corporation's grant funding ability, the bill creates a non-federal match requirement of 24 percent during the first three years, increasing to 50 percent by the tenth year.  The bill allows for this requirement to be adjusted for programs in rural or severely economically distressed communities. 

Subtitle D - National Service Trust and Provision of National Service Education Awards

Limits on National Service Awards:  H.R. 1388 reauthorizes "such sums" for the National Service Trust, which provides educational grants to AmeriCorps volunteers as well as funding for scholarships to high school students rewarded for outstanding community service, and allows individuals who meet the requirements to receive no more than two full-time National Service Educational Awards. 

Subtitle E - National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC)

The National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is a residential community service program for young adults between the ages of 14-24 (H.R. 1388 increases the minimum age of participants to 18), the purpose of which is to promote civic engagement.  Participants serve disaster preparedness and response needs across the country.  This program has previously been rated as ineffective according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. 

Establishment of the NCCC Program: H.R. 1388 amends the NCCC to require that at least 50 percent of participants be disadvantaged youth and be composed of youth from ethnically diverse backgrounds. 

*Note: The NCCC was included as a demonstration program in a law enacted in 1993, but has continued to receive funding via the appropriations process.

In FY 2007, NCCC was funded at $27 million.  H.R. 1388 authorizes $30 million for fiscal year 2010 and such sums for subsequent years. 

Subtitle F - Administrative Positions

Referrals to Federal Assistance Programs:  H.R. 1388 would prohibit programs from receiving assistance under the national service laws for the sole purpose of referring individuals to federal assistance programs or state assistance programs (funded in part by the federal government).

Parental Involvement: The bill requires organizations that receive funds under this act to consult with the parents or legal guardians of the children in their programs.  In addition, it requires the organization to receive parental permission before transporting children.

Evaluation and Accountability:  The bill requires the Corporation to provide ongoing evaluations of the programs receiving funding under these laws.  The evaluations require the Corporation to develop performance measures for each grantee. If a grantee fails to meet the performance measures, it must develop a corrective action plan.  Federal assistance will be terminated if the grantee does not improve.  The bill also requires the Corporation to set sustainability goals for organizations to ensure that programs are not dependent on federal assistance.  The bill also requires the Corporation to take into consideration the ability of the applicants to increase the involvement of volunteers in the community (taking into consideration the mission of the applicant) when approving an application.

Criminal Background Checks:  The bill includes a Republican motion to recommit from last Congress to expand a current regulation to require organizations receiving grants under the national service laws to run criminal background checks for individuals receiving funds under these laws.  The bill also prohibits from eligibility those individuals who refuse to go through the background check, make false statements while undergoing the check or are registered sex offenders.

Subtitle G - Corporation for National and Community Service

Displaced Workers Study and Pilot:  H.R. 1388 authorizes the Corporation to conduct a new study to identify displaced workers and recommend how national service programs can be better geared towards helping these individuals.  The bill authorizes such sums for this study for FY 2010 through 2014. 

Study of Centralized Electronic Citizenship Verification System:  H.R. 1388 authorizes the Corporation to conduct a new study on establishing an electronic citizenship verification system and then implement a pilot based on the recommendations from the study.  The bill authorizes such sums for this study from FY 2010 through 2014.

Veterans Programs: The bill requires the Corporation to conduct a new study to identify areas of need for veterans and methods for utilizing veterans as resources and volunteers.  It allows the Corporation to conduct a pilot program based on the findings in the report.

Innovative Program Support: The legislation authorizes the Corporation to provide grants to carry out programs focused on disadvantaged youth, learning and thinking skills, youth under the age of seventeen, health and wellness, and recidivism reduction.

Points of Light Foundation:  H.R. 1388 repeals this program. 

Social Innovation Fund:  The bill creates a new use of funds to provide grants to organizations to leverage their funds to test new initiatives, with the focus on some of the following areas: resource conservation, individual or community energy efficiency, civic engagement, etc.  The bill authorizes "such sums" for FY 2010 through 2014. 

Title II - Amendments to the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973

Subtitle A - National Volunteer Antipoverty Programs

VISTA Program:  H.R. 1388 expands the programs and projects to include work with the re-entry and re-integration of formerly incarcerated youth and adults into society, developing financial literacy programs, supporting before- and after- school programs for children in low-income communities, supporting community economic development initiatives, assisting veterans and their families, and addressing health and wellness of low-income and underserved communities.

Programs for National Significance:  The bill creates a new program (under an existing authorization) for VISTA programs of national significance for a variety of programs focused on things such as financial literacy, after-school programs, community economic-development, and assistance for veterans. 

VISTA Programs Repealed:  The bill repeals the VISTA Literacy Corps, the University Year for Vista and Literacy Challenge Grants.

Increases Stipends:  The bill increases the stipends for VISTA participants by at least $25 per month.

Authorization Level:  Funded at just over $95 million in FY 2009, H.R. 1388 authorizes $100 million for the VISTA program. 

Subtitle B - National Senior Volunteer Corps

H.R. 1388 changes the name of the program from the "National Senior Volunteer Corps" to the "National Senior Service Corps."

Age Requirement:  The National Senior Service Corps is made up of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, the Foster Grandparent Program, and the Senior Companion Program.  The bill lowers the age to participate in these programs from age 60 to 55.  The bill caps the stipend participants receive at 75 percent of minimum wage. 

Foster Grandparent Program:  The bill increases eligibility for the program by changing the definition of "low-income person" from one living at 125 percent of poverty to 200 percent above the poverty line.  The bill would also allow for a 10 percent increase in the stipend for experienced participants.

Senior Companion:  The bill permits trainers and leaders in these programs to receive a stipend.

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program: The bill requires grantees to undergo competitive re-evaluation for the first time.

Authorization Level:  H.R. 1388 authorizes $240 million for FY 2010 (and such sums thereafter).  The bill specifies that $115 million is to be allocated to the Foster Grandparent program; $55 million for the Senior Companion Program; and $70 million for the Retired Senior Program.  Total funding for these programs was $213.8 million in FY 2009.  The bill also authorizes such sums for FY 2010 through 2014 for the Special Volunteer Program and Demonstration Program.  

 

Background

Executive Summary:

H.R. 1388 reauthorizes through FY 2014 the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NSCA) and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (DVSA).

The Corporation for National and Community Service administers volunteer and community service programs that are funded under the National Community Service Act of 1990 and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, which include AmeriCorps, the National Senior Service Corps, and School- and Community- Based Service Learning (Learn and Serve America). H.R. 1388 reauthorizes many of these programs, authorizes new programs and studies, and increases the authorization amounts on numerous programs.

Background

The Corporation for National and Community Service administers national and community service programs that are funded under the National Community Service Act of 1990 and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973.  These programs were last amended by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993.

The National Community Service Act of 1990 authorizes a number of community service programs including, School- and Community- Based Service Learning (Learn and Serve America), AmeriCorps, and the National Civilian Community Corps. 

The Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 authorizes the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program and the National Senior Volunteer Corps, which includes the Foster Grandparents Program, the Senior Companion Program, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).

Similar legislation to reauthorize the National Community Service Act of 1990 and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (H.R. 2857) was brought up in the 110th Congress.  The bill was brought to the House floor under a structured rule, but was pulled by the majority after a Republican Motion to Recommit was offered to codify a regulation requiring criminal background checks for all participants of community service programs.  The bill was then brought to the House floor on suspension, with the motion to recommit language included, but concerns with the bill's increased spending levels by Members, the bill did not receive the required two-third vote.  The criminal background check language remains in H.R. 1388. 

Cost

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 1388 would cost $6 billion over 5 years.

Amendments

Below are summaries of the amendments made in order by the Rules Committee.  All amendments are to be debated for ten minutes, with the exception of the Manager's Amendment which is to be debated for 30 minutes.

1)    Rep. Miller (D-CA): Manager's Amendment. This amendment would make various technical changes; allow interagency agreements between federal agencies to support national service programs by approving the use of service positions in projects carried out by other agencies; clarify that the goal of reaching 250,000 volunteers is throughout all national service positions, not just AmeriCorps; and clarify that the Corporation should promote efficiency and eliminate duplicative application requirements and report back to the authorizing committees on its progress in doing so.  The amendment adds language to promote community based efforts to reduce crime and recruit public safety officers into service opportunities; adds "severely economically distressed community" as a new definition; includes a new activity under the Opportunity Corps focused on a musician and artists corps program that helps meet educational needs in low income communities; and incorporates language that would increase access to and participation in federally supported nutrition programs. 

2)    Rep. Pingree (D-ME): This amendment would add "providing clean energy related services designed to meet the needs of rural communities" to the list of approved activities for the Clean Energy Corps. 

3)    Rep. Hunter (R-CA):  The amendment would remove veteran's educational benefits from being taken into account when calculating the maximum award an individual could receive for participating in one of the national service programs.

4)    Rep. Loebsack (D-IA): The amendment creates a new program entitled the "Volunteer Generation Fund," and includes the following as the purpose for the program:

 

  • To assist nonprofit, faith based, and other civic organizations by expanding and improving the capacity of such organizations to utilize such volunteers;
  • Spur innovation in volunteer recruitment and management practices, with the goal of increasing the number of volunteers;
  • Enable the people of the U.S. to effect change by participating in active volunteer and citizen service.

 

The amendment authorizes grants to encourage organizations to carry out volunteer programs and develop and support organizations that generate and grow volunteers.  The amendment authorizes $50 million for the grant program in FY 2010, $60 million for FY 2011, $70 million for FY 2012, $80 million for FY 2013, and $100 million for FY 2014. 

5)    Rep. Roe (R-TN):  The amendment would set the authorization for AmeriCorps, the Trust, Innovative programs, audits and evaluations at the FY 2008 level for FY 2010, and as such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2011 through 2014.

6)    Rep. Kilroy (D-OH):  The amendment would provide volunteers to supervise physical education classes at elementary and secondary schools, provide nutrition education to students, and supervise, organize, and manage after school physical activity/education programs.  The amendment would also provide services to these elderly people through food deliveries, legal and medical services provided in the home, and transportation.

7)    Rep. Roskam (R-IL):  The amendment would require all authorized programs to be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget's Program Assessment Rating Tool, as well as require GAO to do a study on the National Civilian Community Corps program.  Finally, the amendment would amend the underlying legislation to continue the annual evaluation requirement for the National Civilian Community Corps, rather than authorizing only one study by 2014. 

8)    Rep. Markey (D-CO):  The amendment would increase the operational support given to organizations for full-time individuals enrolled in an approved national service position.  The amendment proposes increasing the support from $600 to $800 and from $800 to $1000 if the program supports at least 50 percent disadvantaged youth. 

9)    Rep. Hill (D-IN):  The amendment adds an eligible service program (under the National Service Corps) that would send care packages to Armed Forces members serving in combat overseas.

10)  Rep. Teague (D-NM)/Rep. Klein (D-FL):  The amendment would encourage opportunities for veterans that utilize their experience in the Armed Forces, and would encourage programs to assist veterans in finding employment in the public and private sector.  The amendment would aid veterans in their pursuit of education and professional opportunities, help veterans with the claims process, and assist rural, disabled, and unemployed veterans with transportation needs.

11)  Rep. Perriello (D-VA)/Rep. Titus (D-NV):  The amendment would create a National Service Reserve Corps, requiring an annual service requirement of at least ten hours and/or annual training.  The amendment requires that a member of the National Service Reserve Corps must complete a term of national service, fulfill training, and respond to national disasters and other emergencies.  In addition, the amendment would require that these individuals be listed in a national database for the ease of immediate deployment in case of emergency.

 

Additional Information

Member Concerns

While Ranking Member McKeon (R-CA) and some Republicans on the Education and Labor Committee support the passage of H.R. 1388, some Members have expressed concern with the significant spending increase for paid volunteer programs (i.e. AmeriCorps), and other policy concerns. 

Some Members have expressed concern that this legislation would expand and authorize programs that have been audited and considered ineffective by the Office of Management and Budget.  Some Members are concerned that this does not align with the new Administration's plans to encourage transparency and accountability in all federal government programs. 

Some Members are also concerned with continuing to fund "paid volunteerism" through the AmeriCorps program.  In some cases, organizations receiving AmeriCorps participants are required to ensure the participant is paid a living allowance, and often receive reimbursement for housing.  Furthermore, participants who complete a "term of service" also receive an AmeriCorps Education Award (which can  be $100 a month if the participant isn't in school).  Participants are also eligible for medical benefits, and child care allowances (up to $400 per month). 

Furthermore, some Members are concerned that AmeriCorps volunteers are currently employed (and recruited) by community organizations including Planned Parenthood.  Members have expressed concern that federal funding should not support "volunteers" to be paid to work for abortion providers and grant them further flexibility with their finances and resources (understanding that money is fungible).  For a recent example of an AmeriCorps job opportunity at a Planned Parenthood, click here.  These Members are also concerned that without the proper safeguards, opportunities for community service participants to engage in activities that many find inappropriate (i.e. ACORN, Planned Parenthood) could become more commonplace under the Obama Administration. 

Additionally, some Members have expressed concern that Republican language which would have prohibited funding under this bill to be used to develop or distribute materials or operate programs directed at youth that are designed to promote or encourage sexual activity, distribute obscene materials to minors on school grounds, or provide sex education (unless such education is age appropriate and includes discussion of the health benefits of abstinence, HIV-prevention instruction, etc.) has been purposefully left out of the text of the bill-allowing such activities to be funded with federal dollars under the guise of community service programs.