President Obama today proposed increasing the budget for the Corporation for National and Community Service by 1.3 percent next year, to almost $1.1-billion—providing enough money to keep the number of AmeriCorps members at current levels.
In his budget for the 2013 fiscal year, the president said he would also increase spending on the Social Innovation Fund, a grants program to expand effective nonprofit social projects, to $50-million, up from just under $45-million in 2012.
However, the president wants to eliminate two “lower priority” programs that the agency operates—the Volunteer Generation Fund, which provides money for projects to help charities recruit and manage volunteers, and the Nonprofit Capacity Building Fund, which provides grants to organizations to provide training and management help to small and medium-sized charities.
Both of those programs were created by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009, although they never received the budget allocations that the bill envisaged—$50-million for the volunteer fund and $5-million for the “capacity-building” fund. The former got $3.9-million last year and the latter got zero last year and less than than $1-million in 2011.
Mr. Obama said he was forced to make “difficult choices” because of budget constraints.
Mr. Obama’s budget also fails to resuscitate the Learn and Serve program, a community-service program for students that Congress killed in 2011 but that advocates were hoping could return.
President Obama said his budget for AmeriCorps—$470-million, just a sliver less than last year’s— would pay for 82,500 members, about the same as now.
The Serve America Act called for a big expansion of AmeriCorps, to 250,000 by 2017, but concerns over the federal deficit have made that impossible. House Republicans have tried to kill the program completely several times in recent years.
The president’s budget would restore some of the money that Congress cut from the agency’s inspector-general’s office in the 2012 budget. Lawmakers approved a spending bill late last year that cut that office’s budget from $7.7-million to $4-million, prompting the inspector-general ‘s office to warn it would have to lay off staff and decrease oversight. Mr. Obama proposed increasing the budget to $5.4-million.*
*Editor’s Note: The original version incorrectly said this was $5-million.