Service Corps Members Would Support COVID-19 Response and Recovery

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chris Coons, D-Del., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and colleagues today introduced the Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through Service (CORPS) Act. The bipartisan legislation would expand national service programs significantly to help the country respond to and recover from COVID-19.

“Helping our nation respond to and recover from the coronavirus outbreak will require an all-hands approach,” Senator Wicker said. “Boosting the ranks of our service corps is a cost-efficient way to get communities the help they need. I am glad to join Senator Coons in introducing the CORPS Act, which would enhance our national service programs and provide participants with the resources they need to endure this crisis. With their contributions, I am hopeful our nation can emerge stronger than ever before.”

“Over the last several weeks, I’ve been inspired by the thousands of Americans who have stepped up to serve their communities in this time of crisis – whether by sewing and donating masks, providing meals to the nurses and doctors at area hospitals, volunteering with local charities, or performing other acts of simple kindness,” Senator Coons said. “As we begin the hard work of reopening and rebuilding from COVID-19, we need to draw upon that national spirit of service. The CORPS Act will ramp up our existing network of locally-driven national service programs, empowering Americans in our hard-hit communities to be part of our recovery while earning valuable skills for the future. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill with Senator Wicker and my colleagues at this critical time in our recovery, and look forward to working with them to include it in the next relief package considered by the Senate.”

“National service volunteers, like those in AmeriCorps, have established strong records for providing critical help and assistance in times of crisis. It makes sense to expand this sector to help communities and states overcome the unprecedented hardships created by the coronavirus pandemic,” Senator Hyde-Smith said. “I especially appreciate that this bill prioritizes service to rural and underserved areas.”

Among other provisions, the legislation would double the number of AmeriCorps positions available this year to 150,000 and temporarily increase the AmeriCorps living allowance and education award to ensure every American can serve. Additional service corps members would be able to assist communities with response and recovery efforts, including expanding food pantry capacity, tutoring students who have experienced learning loss because of school closures, helping with health screening, and other service-oriented activities.

The bill has gained the support of more than 150 organizations, including Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, Teach for America, YouthBuild, Habitat for Humanity International, Hunger Free America, Jumpstart, Voices for National Service, America’s Service Commissions, Service Year Alliance, FoodCorps, Catholic Volunteer Network, City Year, National Health Corps, National Senior Corps Association, and National Youth Leadership Council.

The legislation has been sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Angus King, I-Maine, and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Click here for more information on the CORPS Act.