WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), with 15 bipartisan colleagues, reintroduced the Cultivating Opportunity and Recovery from the Pandemic through Service (CORPS) Act, legislation that would expand national service programs significantly to help the country recover and rebuild from COVID-19.
In addition to Coons and Wicker, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Angus King (I-Maine), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
The CORPS Act would increase the number of AmeriCorps positions available to support a variety of response and recovery efforts based on community needs, including expanding food bank capacity, mentoring and tutoring students recovering from learning loss, helping to improve housing, and more.
“The past year has shown us that America can overcome any challenge so long as we do so together – when we look out for our neighbors, give back to our communities, and unite behind a common purpose,” Coons said. “We still have work to do to end this pandemic, rebuild, and recover, and one of the best ways we can do that is by investing in our strengths – in the thousands of young people who are eager to roll up their sleeves and serve their country, and in our locally-driven national service network that is already on the ground meeting urgent needs in our communities. I’m proud to introduce the CORPS Act with Senator Wicker and this impressive group of colleagues, and look forward to passing it into law so we can build back stronger than ever.”
“Our nation’s full recovery from the pandemic will require an all-hands approach,” Wicker said. “Boosting the ranks of our service corps is a cost-efficient way to get communities the help they need. I am glad to join Senator Coons in reintroducing the CORPS Act, which would expand national service opportunities at a crucial time for our nation. The COVID-19 outbreak has presented many challenges for our nation, and national service can help us emerge even stronger from this crisis.”
“As more Americans get vaccinated and we move closer to post-pandemic recovery, people are eager to get to work in service to their communities and the nation. This legislation will help elevate national service to uplift people and communities, strengthen our democracy, and help us address health, economic, and social challenges,” said Reed, who helped create the bipartisan National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service.
“The CORPS Act will build upon the existing AmeriCorps framework, providing Americans wishing to serve with more opportunities to fill critical needs in their communities,” said Blunt. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation, which will expand the role that national service organizations play in helping our communities recover from the pandemic.”
“Just as picking up a rifle to defend our country is ‘American Service,’ so is helping out a food pantry for those at risk of hunger, assisting students with remote education and helping patients make critical health care decisions as we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Duckworth said. “We should be doing everything we can to make sure vital service programs like AmeriCorps are accessible to all Americans—especially those who come from underserved communities or have had contact with the juvenile justice system—who wish to serve and help the country they love build back better. That’s why I’m proud to help Senator Coons and Senator Wicker introduce this bipartisan proposal—which builds on my 21st Century American Service Act—and I look forward to sending it to the President’s desk.”
“National service organizations serve as valuable resources to communities, particularly in rural and underserved areas,” Hyde-Smith said. “Expanding and strengthening programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps can do much to aid communities in overcoming the effects of the pandemic on their residents.”
“National service programs, such as AmeriCorps, do extraordinary work in helping to provide vital services to some of our most vulnerable communities,” said Booker. “These volunteers have been helping strengthen neighborhoods for decades. Amid these tumultuous times, expanding national service programs like AmeriCorps will aid in our nation’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“This pandemic has presented our communities with public health and financial challenges unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” said Cornyn. “This legislation would help utilize the wide-ranging skills of thousands of Texans serving in the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps during this crisis to serve those most in need.”
“National service programs like AmeriCorps and Seniors Corps have already proved vital to supporting Arizona communities through the pandemic, and this bipartisan legislation will expand national service to get more Arizonans involved and power our economic recovery,” said Kelly.
“From delivering meals to supporting remote learning to providing critical outreach to seniors experiencing loneliness, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members are making a lasting difference in the lives of countless individuals in Maine, particularly during the challenges of the past year,” said Collins. “The CORPS Act builds on the existing foundation of successful service by providing flexibility to meet local needs and increasing our overall investment in national service programs to help our communities rebound from the COVID-19 crisis.”
“National service volunteers have helped us address this crisis, making a difference in neighborhoods nationwide,” said Klobuchar. “As we rebuild our economy and get communities the resources they need to bounce back, this is an all hands on deck moment – and I’m proud to support legislation that will expand national service opportunities, ensuring all who want to participate are able.”
“I commend the countless Americans who are committed to national service, and believe that we should support expanded opportunities to ensure economic recovery, community wellbeing, and access to dignified work,” Rubio said. “I am proud to join my Senate colleagues in introducing legislation that will help Americans, contribute to our nation’s ongoing economic recovery by serving our local communities, promoting public health, and supporting their families through service to our great nation.”
“Wisconsinites have always been committed to serving their communities, and many folks in our state have answered the call to serve to combat COVID-19 throughout our neighborhoods. Now is the time to scale up our national service programs so those who want to take action and help our communities get through this pandemic have the opportunity to do so,” said Baldwin. “I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that will help service organizations expand their reach to engage more people and bring communities together to combat this public health crisis, save lives and move our country forward.”
“The CORPS Act builds on the existing framework of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to help lead our national rebuilding efforts,” Graham said. “A focus on local rebuilding efforts and community service will pay dividends for our nation.”
“Throughout the pandemic, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members have stepped up to provide essential support to neighbors in need,” said King. “In the face of overwhelming obstacles, these leaders have responded with energy, joy, and compassion, bringing light in a dark moment to struggling Americans in large cities and remote regions. Their work has been essential to our communities, and we should be taking every possible opportunity to expand these national service programs so they can continue to play a major role during our recovery. I’m standing with a bipartisan group of my colleagues to advocate for these service organizations, because I will always bet on the American people’s capacity to respond to challenges with dedication, ingenuity, and kindness for their neighbors.”
“National service organizations create opportunity for Americans of different backgrounds to engage in meaningful solutions that make our communities stronger,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This legislation supports that effort and charts a path forward for COVID recovery.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on so many communities. As we continue to make investments to get through this pandemic, we have an opportunity to build our communities back stronger with the help of civically-minded AmeriCorps volunteers,” said Durbin. “With the CORPS Act, we can expand upon the great work of those serving in AmeriCorps and take bold action to directly address the needs of our communities in food pantries, in education, in housing, and in environmental justice.”
"The CORPS Act demonstrates the strong bipartisan support in Congress for investing in the nimble and effective national service infrastructure that has been deploying citizens of every background in service to their communities for decades,” said AnnMaura Connolly, President of Voices for National Service. “In addition to expanding AmeriCorps and strengthening AmeriCorps Seniors to help communities respond to and recover from COVID-19, the CORPS Act will give young people experience, skills, a living stipend and post-service education scholarship to help pay for college. The Voices for National Service community is deeply grateful to Senator Coons, Senator Wicker and their colleagues for their leadership and bold vision for the vital role that national service can play in helping our communities at this critical moment in our nation’s history.”
“America’s Service Commissions is proud to endorse the bipartisan CORPS Act as it is reintroduced in the 117th Congress,” said Kaira Esgate, CEO of America’s Service Commissions (ASC). “This bill is a bold-but-realistic proposal to make AmeriCorps, state service commissions, national service and volunteer programs a cornerstone of our nation’s long-term economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanding national service opportunities and benefits is essential to making service accessible to all and engaging a diverse group of Americans who want to serve our country and gain valuable job skills and experience in the process. The CORPS Act also provides governors and their state service commissions the flexibility they need to get these national service resources out the door to local communities and nonprofits quickly and efficiently. Our network stands ready to implement the CORPS Act across all states and territories during the COVID economic recovery period.”
“National service continues to play a critical role in our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and it has the power to help America recover and rebuild. Service Year Alliance is proud to support the bipartisan CORPS Act which will allow existing programs to expand their impact and will jumpstart the creation of new national service programs to boost our recovery efforts,” said Jesse Colvin, CEO of Service Year Alliance. “National service has the power to tackle youth unemployment by mobilizing the next generation of Americans and putting them on a path to good-paying jobs and future education. As the Administration and Congress set their sights on the American Jobs Plan and rebuilding our economy, expanding national service can put the voices of communities at the center of the effort to combat our climate crisis and rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. Additionally, by increasing the living allowance, engaging young people from diverse populations, and focusing on the creation of new programs that specifically support underserved communities, the CORPS Act is a step in the right direction towards making national service a more equitable and inclusive opportunity for all young Americans.”
For a one-pager on the bill, please click here.