As more volunteers apply for AmeriCorps, funding shrinks
Nearly 300 of the state's newest AmeriCorps members will start their year of service on Friday in Lawrenceville, but local officials say that they are losing funding just as demand grows among prospective volunteers.
PennServe, the state commission that allocates federal money for various AmeriCorps programs in the state, said it has funding for 1,100 positions this year, down from 1,800 last year.
With the economy making it harder for many people to get a job right after college, more have been applying for the national community service program during the past few years, said Helen Wachter, director of the AmeriCorps program Knowledge to Empower Youth to Success (KEYS) program in Allegheny County.
Federal sequestration reduced funding for Pennsylvania's AmeriCorps programs by 10 percent between 2012 and 2013. The state received $6.65 million in funding requests for AmeriCorps programs but had only $3.9 million to distribute, Wachter said.
“Not only was the allocation less, but there was a swell of applications for members,” she said. Between 400 and 500 people applied to KEYS last year.
AmeriCorps members in the KEYS program work full-time for a year for a living allowance of $12,250 and a scholarship or student loan reimbursement of up to $5,550. Through the program, they tutor and mentor kids as young as kindergarten-age and adults 18 to 24. They work for schools, community groups and faith-based organizations in struggling communities, said Steve Hussar, KEYS' training coordinator.
In Braddock, KEYS members help run the Braddock Youth Project, staff local playgrounds during the summer and lend their labor to clean-up projects that can't be filled with local volunteers alone, said Mayor John Fetterman, who discovered Braddock while an AmeriCorps volunteer in Pittsburgh in the late 1990s.
“AmeriCorps helps us accomplish so much in Braddock. Anything that affects AmeriCorps adversely is going to affect Braddock adversely,” Fetterman said.
Kara Petrosky, 30, was a KEYS member from 2010 to 2011 who worked at Holy Family Institute, tutoring and mentoring young men in a group home. She was a German teacher for four years after college but wanted to do more community service.
“That was the direction I knew I wanted to go, and I used my year with AmeriCorps as a transition,” said Petrosky, a West View resident who now works full-time for Holy Family.
With the budget cuts, a mix of 114 full-time and part-time KEYS members will be sworn in on Friday, compared with 149 last year, Wachter said. They will immediately fan out to maintain benches in Arsenal Park, paint roofs as part of the city's energy-saving “cool roofs” initiative and weed and do general maintenance in Allegheny Cemetery.
In addition to the KEYS members, representatives of the Pittsburgh Health Corps, Compass AmeriCorps, Family Service Corps of Butler County, Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps and others will be among 280 sworn in.
“It's not like anyone (in AmeriCorps) is very expensive to bring on. … They pay you right along the poverty line,” said Jack Daugherty, 24, of South Side Slopes and an AmeriCorps volunteer in 2011-12. “Yet we're doing just as much work, if not more, than any salaried person.”
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto: Public has stake in Penguins
- Newsmaker: Pete DiNardo
- State lawmaker proposes increasing cost of state fishing licenses
- West Jefferson Hills schools close because of gun threat
- Belle Vernon woman visits ship like lander she helped build as WWII welder
- Embezzled $14.8M could cause woes for North Side firm Matthews International
- Pittsburgh schools chief Lane stepping down next summer
- Asking price for Penguins franchise said to be at a record $750M
- Construction to close roads in O’Hara, Baldwin Borough
- Pittsburgh Zoo staff caring for African lion suffering from seizure condition
- Saudi King Salman assured on Iran nuclear deal in U.S. trip