SHAHEEN: SERVE AMERICA ACT WILL ENGAGE THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS IN HELPING TO SOLVE OUR NATIONAL CHALLENGES THROUGH SERVICE

Bill creates a new Clean Energy Corps to increase the use of energy efficiency and conservation measures

March 27, 2009

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen applauded Senate passage of the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, legislation that will greatly increase volunteer opportunities nationally and in New Hampshire. The legislation provides funding for an additional 175,000 Americans to serve through the AmeriCorps program and creates additional volunteer corps with new missions, including a Clean Energy Corps to encourage energy efficiency and conservation measures. Shaheen cosponsored the Serve America Act, which passed 79-19 in the Senate with broad bipartisan support.

 

“Throughout American history, the compassion of our people has gotten us through the most difficult of times,” said Shaheen. “That spirit exists today in communities across America, and the Serve America Act taps into the strong desire of Americans to do their part to help our country recover and prosper.”

 

The Serve America Act builds on the success of the AmeriCorps program with a goal of increasing the number of volunteers from 75,000 to 250,000 and creates new volunteer corps with specific missions in areas of national need including an Education Corps to help increase student achievement and graduation rates; a Healthy Futures Corps to improve access to health care; a Veterans Corps to assist our nation’s veterans; and an Opportunity Corps to assist the economically disadvantaged. It also includes a Clean Energy Corps to encourage energy efficiency and conservation measures, a concept for which Senator Shaheen voiced strong support throughout the debate of this legislation.

 

“While Congress works to position America as a leader in clean energy and energy efficiency, a Clean Energy Corps will enhance our efforts by encouraging efficiency and conservation measures in communities and neighborhoods,” added Shaheen. “In New Hampshire, I know volunteers stand ready to take on projects such as making homes more energy efficient or working to preserve our state’s many parks, trails, and rivers for future generations to enjoy.”

 

The Serve America Act also reauthorizes important service programs in New Hampshire such as Plus Time NH, a program that collaborates with the community to provide afterschool activities for vulnerable students who would otherwise go home to empty houses, and the City Year program in New Hampshire, which works to reduce the high school drop-out rate. Last year, City Year mentored and tutored over 1,200 students in the state. 

 

In addition to expanding service areas, the bill makes volunteering easier for Americans of all ages by encouraging working adults and senior citizens to serve their communities. For working adults, the bill provides tax incentives to employers who allow employees to take paid leave for full-time service. And the Serve America Act will expand service opportunities that build on older Americans’ skills and experience by creating an Encore Fellowship Program for individuals over age 50 to carry out one-year service projects.

 

Shaheen has long supported national and community service. As Governor, she issued an executive order that established the New Hampshire Commission for National and Community Service. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, over 325,000 volunteers in New Hampshire dedicated 38.9 million hours of service each year between 2005 and 2007. The economic contribution of those volunteer hours is estimated to total $759 million each year.

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Alex Reese