AmeriCorps members get boost for education

ckrotzer@theolympian.comJune 19, 2013 

More than $14 million in grants and scholarships has been awarded to AmeriCorps members in the state’s 10th Congressional District, which includes Thurston County and a portion of Pierce County.

The announcement was made Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia. Of the $14.7 million, $8.9 million goes to nearly 890 AmeriCorps members and another $4.9 million has been set aside as scholarship funds for those who successfully complete their duties.

“It provides an opportunity for those engaging in national service to make a difference and forge a passion for things that last a lifetime,” Heck said.

The combination made for one of the largest district grants in the country, said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation of National and Community Service, the federal agency that heads the AmeriCorps program.

“This year the application process was very, very competitive,” Spencer said.

Of the $341 million worth of applications, only $200 million could be granted.

The $8.9 million grant is split between three programs. The Veteran Corps of the Washington State Department of Veterans is receiving $665,000 to support 50 AmeriCorps members who assist active military and their families, soldiers transitioning back to civilian life, and higher education and job training for service members.

Another $7.3 million will go to the Washington Service Corps through the Washington State Security Department to support 565 AmeriCorps members who will narrow their focus, such as for disaster preparedness or health education programs. That grant is coupled with about $3.1 million set aside for scholarships.

The last $1.8 million is earmarked for the Washington Conservation Corps with the State Department of Ecology to support 275 AmeriCorps members for wetland population and invasive species projects, as well as trail construction and environmental education.

The grant is coupled with about $1.5 million in scholarships.

“There isn’t a person who doesn’t have a family member or friend or child who has served in some sort of national service. … It’s quite contrary to how people view young people,” Heck said. “There is a desire and thirst among young people in the country to give back.”

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 @chelseakrotzer

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