Bill Tripling Size of AmeriCorps Heads to President's Desk

March 31, 2009

Washington — The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval today to a bill that would expand the federal national-service programs by the largest amount in 50 years, sending it to President Obama for a signature.

The bill, recently renamed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (HR 1388) in honor of the longtime Massachusetts senator, would more than triple the size of the AmeriCorps program, to 250,000 slots, up from 75,000. The Senate passed the measure last week, and the House, which had earlier approved a separate bill, adopted the Senate version today.

The legislation would also increase, to $5,350, the education stipend that volunteers receive for each year of service, bringing that award in line with the maximum Pell Grant. Older volunteers could transfer up to $1,000 of their stipend to a child, foster child, or grandchild.

Finally, the bill would create, but not finance, a grant program to encourage service learning. As many as 25 institutions would be named “colleges of service” and would share a $7-million award, which would have to be appropriated by Congress. —Kelly Field