First, they went nuclear on PBS and NPR. Now, they have voted to totally shut down AmeriCorps -- the groundbreaking national service program that has transformed the lives of millions of Americans.
In the dead of night on Saturday, a Tea Party-driven group of House members voted to kill AmeriCorps, completely eliminating all funding. With a potential government shutdown looming on March 4th, the fate of 85,000 AmeriCorp community organizers, teachers, and tutors will now be decided by the U.S. Senate.
Here is the heart of the matter: AmeriCorps volunteers help and protect our country's most vulnerable. Every day, AmeriCorps organizers work in many of the poorest communities in America, lessening the pain of those suffering in this brutal economy. As their work rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina exemplifies, these organizers are the backbone of our country’s service community -- a Peace Corps for our own country.
After hearing the shocking news, former AmeriCorps volunteer Caleb Jonas decided he had to do something. From a coffee shop in Massachusetts, Caleb logged in to Change.org from his laptop and created a petition asking Congress to "Save AmeriCorps." Caleb’s inspiring action has already been signed by 17,266 Americans -- without significant promotion from any major organization. Until now.
Why does Caleb care so much about AmeriCorps? Because he spent a year improving the quality of tutoring programs for low-income kids in Minnesota -- and witnessed AmeriCorps members build houses for Habitat for Humanity, help political refugees start new lives, improve reading test scores for elementary school students, and help disadvantaged high school students get into college.
As Caleb told us over the phone, it breaks his heart that this vital national service program could be shut down at a time when people in the most marginalized communities in America need it the most. That’s why Caleb was inspired to start his "Save AmeriCorps" petition from a coffee shop -- and why AmeriCorps supporters are sharing it on Facebook and forwarding messages like this to their friends around the country.
With AmeriCorps on the chopping block, it’s time for us to stand up for Caleb and thousands of other volunteers who have committed years of their lives to community service. Will you click here now to sign your name and tell the Senate not to kill AmeriCorps?