Philanthropy Northwest Joint Letter Against Funding Cuts to CNCS

September, 2015

 

Dear Senator Murray:

We are writing this letter to ask for your support to protect the funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that administers national service programs such as AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.
As the organizations representing more than 56,000 nonprofits and 1,000 philanthropic organizations in Washington State, we are compelled to bring closer to home the impact of potential CNCS cuts.

Broadly, the proposed CNCS cuts threaten the volunteer infrastructure in Washington State. The nonprofit sector is the primary infrastructure for volunteer service. Last year, Washingtonians volunteered more 220 million hours of service, valued at $5.1 billion dollars. That is equivalent to more than 25% of our state operating budget.

More specifically, vital services will be put at risk. Examples include:

Firefighting
Wildfires have ravaged much of Eastern Washington in the past several years. This year, the Okanogan Complex of wildfires has surpassed last year's Carlton Complex blazes and is now the largest in Washington state history. 60 members of the Washington Conservation Corps AmeriCorps responded to wildfires throughout Washington State.

Drought Response
WCC AmeriCorps volunteers completed critical fish passage projects this summer. Fish passage projects help salmon navigate low rivers by eliminating barriers to water flow and creating deeper pools for salmon to advance upstream.

Veterans
Last program year, 50 AmeriCorps members sponsored by the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs provided support to 7,000 returning veterans and military families as well as addressing other important community needs. The proposed cuts will deprive veterans and military families and from receiving these much needed services.

In addition, more than 17,000 veterans have provided services to the veteran and military population as AmeriCorps members. Since its inception, AmeriCorps members have assisted other veterans and military families access benefits and services, obtain job training and conduct job searches, provide safe and affordable housing and mentor and tutor military kids.

Student Loans/Post-Secondary Education
The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is a post-service benefit received by participants who complete a term of national service in an approved AmeriCorps program--AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps NCCC, or AmeriCorps State and National. Since 1994, more than 35,000 Washington residents have earned more than $122 million dollars to support on-going education.

These are but a few of the examples of critical work done by CNCS members. Cutting these programs simply makes no fiscal sense and threaten both the work and investments of our sector. As the Ranking Members of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, we ask your support to restore full funding to the CNCS.

Sincerely,

Alison McCaffree, Executive Director, Washington Nonprofits                      
Jeff Clarke, CEO, Philanthropy Northwest