FRANKFORT – Operation UNITE’s AmeriCorps program is one of 12 programs across Kentucky to receive grant funding, Audrey Tayse Haynes, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, announced this week.
“With this grant, the UNITE Service Corps will continue to provide 44 full-time AmeriCorps members to schools in southern and eastern Kentucky for the upcoming term,” stated Debbie Trusty, UNITE education director.
This is the sixth year UNITE has received funding to provide math tutoring and drug abuse prevention education to elementary school students. Service Corps members also serve as sponsors for anti-drug UNITE Clubs and recruit volunteers for school-based prevention programs.
AmeriCorps is a national service program administered by the Cabinet and serves faith-based and nonprofit organizations with critical educational, environmental and safety needs. Grant recipients include programs dedicated to efforts ranging from preventing student dropouts to serving survivors of domestic violence.
“The stories of success as a result of this kind of service are incredible,” Secretary Haynes said. “Through these grants, local citizens are addressing local needs.”
The Kentucky programs receiving grants totaling $3.8 million include 472 full- and part-time members. Their projects will last three months to one year and most begin this fall.
Among the agencies to receive funding is the MSUCorps at Morehead State University. This group will receive $379,050 to fund 23 full-time members to provide reading tutoring for academically at-risk students utilizing the “Great Leaps” reading curriculum and recruit and train community volunteers to be reading tutors. Members develop and demonstrate skills in tutoring, civic engagement and volunteer recruitment in eastern Kentucky.
Both the UNITE Service Corps and MSU Corps are funded through an annual grant competition by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a public-private partnership that engages Americans of all ages in service.
As part of the announcement, CNCS, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, has also awarded a School Turnaround AmeriCorps grant to Berea College for its PartnerCorps program. The $633,689 grant provides for 40 AmeriCorps members, who will work as mentors, college advisers and family advocates for students at Knox Central and Leslie County high schools. The 10-month program targets low-income and rural students.
Commission Executive Director Eileen Cackowski said 100 percent of AmeriCorps grant money goes directly to strengthen these community programs.
“Kentucky will have more AmeriCorps programs this year than last year, and we eventually hope to have programs in every county,” she said. “The AmeriCorps program is a good fit for Kentucky and brings in millions for college educations, as well as thousands of hours of service to communities.”
Since AmeriCorps began in 1994, more than 8,500 Kentucky residents have served more than 8.4 million hours and have qualified for Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards totaling more than $28 million. During the 2011-12 program year, 411 AmeriCorps members provided 561,750 hours of service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and its citizens.
AmeriCorps members may serve up to two, full-service years. Upon completion of their service, members are eligible for an education award equal to the Pell grant, currently $5,550, that can be used to pay back student loans or cover tuition costs.
For more information about Kentucky’s AmeriCorps programs or AmeriCorps projects, call Program Officer Andrea Sieloff toll-free 1-800-239-7404, ext. 3842, or visit the KCCVS website at www.volunteerKY.ky.gov.