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UW, Community Colleges Receive AmeriCorps Grants


September 15, 2011 — The University of Wyoming and Wyoming community colleges are among more than 325 organizations across the country that will share nearly $230 million in federal AmeriCorps grants funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The organization is an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. This year, AmeriCorps will provide nearly 500 individuals the opportunity to provide intensive, results-driven service to meet education, environmental, health, economic and other pressing needs in communities across Wyoming.

Most AmeriCorps grant funding goes to the governor-appointed ServeWyoming, which, in turn, awards grants to nonprofit groups to respond to local needs. Most of the remainder of the grant funding is distributed by the corporation directly to multi-state and national organizations through a competitive grants process. Since 1994, more than 1,900 Wyoming residents have served more than two million hours and have qualified for the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards totaling more than $4.3 million.

UW received $217,000 through AmeriCorps' Connecting Campus and Community Program this year. The majority of members are UW students; however, this grant has increased the capacity to reach the rest of the community colleges in the state, says Erin Olsen, coordinator of the Service, Leadership & Community Engagement Office (SLCE).

"By the end of the 2011-12 academic year, we will be able to serve at all the community colleges across the state," Olsen says. "This is a tremendous accomplishment for the University of Wyoming because it strengthens our relationships and collaborative efforts with our community colleges as well as new nonprofits around the state."

The grants focus AmeriCorps resources on six key areas facing communities -- disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures and veterans and military families.

AmeriCorps members at UW serve with organizations as diverse as Interfaith Good Samaritan, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Downtown Clinic, Wyoming Women's Business Center and Laramie Main Street.

Across the state, members serve with United Way, the National Outdoor Leadership School, Wyoming Special Olympics, Food Bank of the Rockies, the Wyoming Housing Network, the Wyoming Family Homeownership Program, Cathedral Home and other organizations.

The Connecting Campus and Community AmeriCorps program is comprised of two branches -- Campus Corps and Scholarships for Service.

Campus Corps members receive a modest living allowance while managing volunteers and creating resources for nonprofits around the state, plus an education scholarship upon completion of service. Applications are available early spring and in the fall.

"Scholarships for Service members focus on meeting community needs while completing an academic internship, such as student teaching, practicums, clinical hours and work-study," Olsen says. "While they do not receive a living stipend, these members do receive scholarships upon completion of service. Applications for these positions are available at the beginning of each month."

AmeriCorps programs engage more than 80,000 people each year through more than 14,000 nonprofits across the country. In exchange for 1,700 hours of service, members earn a $5,350 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to help pay for college or pay back student loans. Part-time service opportunities range from 300-900 hours and members earn a proportional education award.

More than 700,000 AmeriCorps members since 1994 have given 860 million service hours in their communities. Among other accomplishments, AmeriCorps members last year mobilized 2.6 million community volunteers and tutored, mentored or served more than 2.5 million disadvantaged youth.

For more information about the AmeriCorps program, including how to apply, contact Jenny Reese, AmeriCorps program coordinator, or Olsen at (307) 766-2959 or (307) 766-6871 or email cccameri@uwyo.edu.

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