Thanks to Paul Joss and the BBC for this notice — nope it’s not an April Fool’s joke… =)
Yesterday Congressional leaders demonstrated their commitment to citizen service when the U.S. House of Representatives passed The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act with a vote of 275-149. This was a major step in the legislative process after the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Act on March 26 with a vote of 79-19. The last remaining step is for President Obama to sign the bill, which he has committed to do.
We are deeply grateful for the spirit of bipartisanship displayed in Congress to reauthorize national service programs and expand opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve both at home AND abroad. While the bill was primarily designed to increase domestic volunteer service, the key provision of interest to BBC members is Title V, the Volunteers for Prosperity (VfP) program.
The authorization of Volunteers for Prosperity is a great victory for this coalition. Thanks to the hard work and inspiration of the Brookings Institution and strong grassroots efforts by many BBC coalition members, the legislation substantially expands the national commitment to citizen diplomacy and international volunteerism. The VfP program is now authorized for appropriations up to $10 million annually. These funds will be used for “incentive stipends” equal to a 50% of the cost for “skilled professionals” to volunteer abroad on humanitarian projects. The focus of this legislation is on citizen volunteers who pay their own expenses to serve on relatively short term volunteer assignments. For specific features of this legislation, go to http://www.thomas.gov and search on bill h1388.
The attached document lists the Representatives who supported the bill. Please contact your Representatives if they supported the bill and thank them, particularly for including the international element. You can look up your representative here. Also contact your Senators and thank them for their support.
We know many of youwill be curious to learn more about Volunteers for Prosperity now that this bill has been passed. The BBC is exploring options for a Q & A conference call with Volunteers for Prosperity administrators or possibly posting some information about it on the BBC website. We will keep you posted as this develops.
Thanks for all your help in this important victory!