MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- (Marketwired) -- 07/20/15 -- Minnesota Reading Corps, one of the most effective programs in closing the education achievement gap, was part of Minnesota's nation-leading result in competitive grants awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). ServeMinnesota, the governor-appointed commission on national and community service, received $20,036,237 in AmeriCorps funding -- the largest competitive grant amount received by any one state.
These grants will support nearly 1,900 AmeriCorps members to serve in more than 200 communities across the state. These members will tackle critical challenges including helping children learn and thrive, building economic stability for families, and improving our environment through 13 AmeriCorps programs.
Among the programs funded is Minnesota Reading Corps, the state's flagship early literacy program. In 2014, a rigorous study by the University of Chicago found that elementary schools and preschool programs that implement Reading Corps get significantly greater outcomes for their students than programs that do not have access to Reading Corps. The study found that students of color, students eligible for free and reduced lunch, and English language learners are achieving outcomes equal to or better than their peers. In fact, those with higher risk factors actually made stronger gains.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, who appoints members to serve on the board for ServeMinnesota, announced the grants. "For the third year in a row, Minnesota's AmeriCorps program is leading the nation in service," said Governor Dayton. "I thank them for all of their hard work and their commitment to serving others." Minnesota Lt. Governor Tina Smith added, "Every year, AmeriCorps members strengthen our communities through their extraordinary service. Thanks to the leadership of ServeMinnesota, this nation-leading grant funding will help address some of the most pressing issues facing our communities."
The current year's AmeriCorps grant cycle was highly competitive, due to the strong demand by organizations seeking AmeriCorps resources. Minnesota was one of only a handful of states that had 100 percent of its grant applications funded, a testament to the innovative and effective programs created in Minnesota that receive national recognition for their impact and results. The 2015 competition prioritized investments in economic opportunity, education, veterans and military families, and disaster services.
"AmeriCorps members make a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation," said CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer. "Building on Minnesota's strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, AmeriCorps members will improve lives and strengthen communities across the state. As they serve others, AmeriCorps members will also expand opportunity for themselves -- gaining skills and experience to jumpstart their careers."
The law creating AmeriCorps gave states a key role in determining how national service resources are used and ensuring that funded programs are meeting community needs. In addition to the $20 million received through the competitive grant process, Minnesota also received $2.1 million to expand their impact in critical areas.
Minnesota AmeriCorps programs funded for the 2015-2016 program year include:
City of Lakes AmeriCorps - Minneapolis Public Schools
Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP)
Conservation Corps Minnesota
LEAP (Learning Early Achieves Potential) - Southern MN Initiative Foundation
Minnesota Green Corps
Minnesota Math Corps
Minnesota Opportunity Corps
Minnesota Reading Corps
Promise Fellows Minnesota Alliance with Youth
Promise Neighborhood Program - Northside Achievement Zone
True North AmeriCorps - Duluth Area YMCA
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
Finally, $1.8 million in funding is being awarded to multi-state programs headquartered in Minnesota, which includes funding to expand Minnesota's proven early literacy program, Reading Corps, to 11 states and Washington, D.C.
Since 1994, more than 900,000 Americans have provided more than 1 billion hours of service addressing critical challenges from poverty and hunger to disasters and the dropout crisis. After completing a full term of service, AmeriCorps members receive an award of $5,730 that they can use to pay for college or to pay off student loans. CNCS will make available $10.6 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for the AmeriCorps members funded by these Minnesota grants.
ServeMinnesota is a catalyst for positive social impact, working with AmeriCorps and community partners to meet critical needs in Minnesota. As a nonprofit organization, it improves the lives of Minnesotans by offering life-changing service opportunities to thousands of individuals who focus on education, affordable housing, employment, or the environment. Because of its strong partnerships with private and public funders, including the Minnesota Department of Education, ServeMinnesota has created two innovative strategic initiatives, Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps, that are working to close the achievement gap and help struggling students become successful learners. Combining the people power of AmeriCorps with research-based strategies, ServeMinnesota addresses the most intractable problems and shares its proven practices nationally. For more information, visit www.serveminnesota.org.
AmeriCorps engages 75,000 members in intensive service annually to serve through nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations at 25,000 locations across the country. These members help communities tackle pressing problems while mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. AmeriCorps is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, and the Volunteer Generation Fund, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit www.NationalService.gov
Lisa D. Winkler