Price Testimony Supporting National Service
Congressman David Price
Testimony regarding National Service to the Labor HHS Subcommittee
March 1, 2017
Good afternoon, Chairman Cole, Ranking Member DeLauro, and the Members of the Subcommittee. Today I am speaking on behalf of the National Service Caucus, a bipartisan group of nearly 80 Members. My colleague and fellow caucus co-chair, Rep. Doris Matsui, sends her regrets for not being able to testify with me today.
National service has a proud history in the United States. President Kennedy first called for a national domestic volunteer program to complement the Peace Corps in the early 1960s, a call that inspired President Johnson to create the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
VISTA quickly expanded and was codified by Congress in the early 1970s with the bipartisan Domestic Volunteer Service Act, legislation that outlined the specific mission and goals of National Service in relation to our country.
Some years later, the Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS, was founded to consolidate these efforts and support the larger programs that we are familiar with today: AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and what was formerly known as Serve America.
Today, CNCS is guided by the principles of putting the needs of local communities first, strengthening public-private partnerships, and assisting with the accessibility of grant funding to rural and other economically distressed communities.
Most colleagues are familiar with the benefits and successes of AmeriCorps, a program established to provide opportunities for motivated and dedicated Americans to civically engage in state and local projects. Each year, over 80,000 Americans immerse themselves in these programs that address community needs or respond to disasters.
Senior Corps, largely developed under President Nixon, has connected our nation’s older generations with people and organizations in need across the country. Senior Corps members become coaches and mentors, contributing their career skills and expertise to grow communities. One of the largest programs is the Foster Grandparents program, which enriches the lives of young people with volunteers age 55 and over by serving local organizations committed to the betterment of children.
The Social Innovation Fund, or SIF, catalyzes and mobilizes public and private funds to transform the impact that local nonprofits have on communities. As of March 2016, SIF leveraged $295 million of federal investment to reach commitments of more than twice the value.
National Service works by engaging young people, providing services to military families, and helping communities succeed. Through service, highly motivated young Americans can participate in career-related service opportunities such as working with the Community Health Corps, increasing their experience and earning potential, while helping communities of need. Additionally, a generation held back by increasing student debt can now seek alternatives to paying for their education.
National Service stems from its ability to leverages substantial private investments from a small public investment
In my district, we host over 350 AmeriCorps volunteers and 162 Senior Corps volunteers, working with local universities, housing authorities, and diverse nonprofits, to name a few. Those young people who serve have a lasting impact on my district and the state, sustaining communities and allowing them to flourish for future generations.
In this time of political uncertainty, we should also remember that National Service has bipartisan roots. Republican Presidents from Nixon to George W. Bush supported these programs, and President Bush even encouraged all Americans to devote 4,000 hours of their lives to service in the aftermath of September 11.
CNCS promotes a goal that we can all agree on – to give a new generation of young people a means to make a difference in their country.
Again, thank you for this opportunity to advocate on behalf of this essential agency and to support its funding.