SUNY Cortland will put 41 AmeriCorps volunteers to work in a variety of community organizations this year - nearly tripling the size of the successful, federally funded program run through the College’s Institute for Civic Engagement.
The new AmeriCorps volunteers, each of whom will spend a year in Cortland County working to improve the community, will be funded by a $370,068 grant recently awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
Last year, SUNY Cortland received about $154,000 and filled 14 positions.
“We are very excited to have received this award,” said Richard Kendrick, the local AmeriCorps project director and the director of the SUNY Cortland Institute for Civic Engagement. “This will mean that programs in our community can continue that affect the lives of hundreds of Cortland residents in all aspects of community life, including preschool, daycare, environmental education, after-school programs, health education and much more.”
SUNY Cortland AmeriCorps is a community-based coalition that seeks to strengthen communities and increase civic involvement through service. AmeriCorps members agree to devote a full year to tutor and mentor disadvantaged youth, operate after-school programs, clean parks and streams, provide health education and a fill a wide range of other community needs.
In return, full-time volunteers receive an annual stipend of $12,100 to help with housing and food. After completing a year of service, they receive $5,550 to put toward college costs.
SUNY Cortland AmeriCorps is headquartered with the SUNY Cortland Institute for Civic Engagement in Main Street SUNY Cortland, the College’s downtown building at 9 Main St. It is part of the College’s effort to play a positive role in the community while providing potentially transformational educational experiences for students. SUNY Cortland this year was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction. It was the College’s fifth consecutive year on the honor roll.
Local organizations that have received help from AmeriCorps volunteers include Cornell Cooperative Extension, Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture, Cortland Downtown Partnership, Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Seven Valleys Health Coalition.
AmeriCorps is one of three initiatives created by the CNCS, a federal organization that engages more than five million people in service to meet local needs. The other two programs are Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America.
The SUNY Cortland AmeriCorps program this year was able to win a significant increase in funding during a time of slashed federal budgets because of the local program’s highly successful track record, which won support among influential individuals and organizations, Kendrick said.
The New York State Commission on National and Community Service, which distributes federal AmeriCorps funds in New York for the Corporation for National and Community Service, received more than 70 AmeriCorps requests totaling nearly $30 million this year. The commission, however, had only $16.9 million to disperse, Kendrick said.
Kendrick thanked the commission, SUNY Cortland AmeriCorps’ network of community partners and the Cortland area’s congressional delegation, particularly Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Richard Hanna, for supporting Cortland’s efforts.
The SUNY Cortland Institute for Civic Engagement is currently accepting applications for positions.
For more information, interested people may contact Wendy Burton, program coordinator for the SUNY Cortland Institute for Civic Engagement, at (607) 753-4270 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Possible volunteers may also apply online at www.americorps.gov by searching programs in New York State and looking for SUNY Cortland AmeriCorps.