AmeriCorps Update

Brianna Menning - Director of Community Based Learning – CFA

(Originally published in the CFA Summer 2011 Newsletter)

Brianna Menning

For the past six years, we have been fortunate to be able to implement asset based community development service through a national direct AmeriCorps grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). With the passage of the Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009, the hope within CNCS was to increase the size of the AmeriCorps program, while also working more sectorally in specific designated target areas (education, veterans, environmental, economic opportunity, and health). This was going to be a bit of a challenge to the CFA program, as our work with ABCD is clearly not sectoral, and is instead an opportunity to work with a community, and letting them determine the focus. When Congress eventually passed a budget bill this past spring, they made significant cuts to the CNCS budget, and AmeriCorps in particular.

Out of 337 new and recompleting application, only 53 were funded, about 15%. Unfortunately, we were not one of the accepted applications. We knew from the beginning that not fitting into the sectoral plans of CNCS would decrease our odds of receiving funding (never predicting the service budget would take quite the hit that it did).  However, it was important to me that we didn’t try to create a program that was forced to report primarily within pre-set sectoral standards, making the ABCD work a secondary focus. That is not who CFA is, nor is it a direction we are looking at heading. We simply cannot work against the organization mission and vision.

So now we are headed in a new direction. We will continue to run our AmeriCorps grant until the conclusion of the current program year (for most members, this will be through the upcoming fall). While continuing to run our current AmeriCorps, program, we will also be working collaboratively with CFA members and Leadership Foundations and their local partners to create a new program. We are fully committed to implementing ABCD in neighborhoods through community based organizations and churches.

Our plan moving forward is to develop a program with opportunities to serve that fit the variety of needs of the local communities we work with, and the resources they have available. This will look different depending on the region and community. We are excited about the possibilities and opportunities this new (and developing) program will have to offer. We invite you to join us in praying for what God has in store for the future of our new program.

About communitiesfirstassociation
Using Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) methods, CFA transforms a growing number of communities and engages Christians and Churches in their community.

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