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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 29, 1997

President Proposes Plan to Reauthorize AmeriCorps and Announces Grants for Service on Martin Luther King Day

Saturday, November 29, 1997

President Releases Proposal to Reauthorize AmeriCorps

Today in his weekly radio address, President Clinton proposed legislation to improve and extend the AmeriCorps program into the next century. The legislation would also reauthorize the other national service programs run by the Corporation for National Service -- Learn and Serve America and the National Senior Service Corps.

The proposal announced by the President would extend all three programs for the next five years, building on national service's successful track record and allowing millions more Americans to serve. It will give states and community organizations more flexibility to administer service programs and strengthen partnerships with traditional volunteer organizations. The President urged Congress to make passage of this legislation a priority next year.

The President came into office with a vision of a national service program that would offer young people the chance to serve our nation in exchange for increased access to higher education. Today, that program -- AmeriCorps -- is a great success. Since 1993, more than 100,000 people have enrolled in AmeriCorps. All who complete a term of full-time service are eligible for an education award of $4,725. Thousands of communities across America have seen that national service helps them meet vital needs in education, public safety, the environment, and other human needs. AmeriCorps also increases the reach of volunteers because, on average, AmeriCorps members recruit and train at least 12 unpaid volunteers.

In addition to AmeriCorps, national service includes programs for students and seniors. Learn and Serve America supports service-learning programs involving more than a million students in K-12 schools and colleges and universities. Students perform service in their communities that is linked to what they are learning in school. The National Senior Service Corps taps the experience of more than half a million older Americans to help solve community problems through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), the Senior Companions Program, the Foster Grandparents Program, and the new Seniors for Schools initiative.

Grants to Communities for Day of Service on Martin Luther King Holiday

The President also announced that this week the Corporation for National Service awarded more than 70 grants to communities to organize service events on Martin Luther King Day. Our newest holiday has a growing tradition of service, springing from Dr. King's deep belief in service. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Holiday as a day of service. Around the country, more and more communities are helping to make Martin Luther King Day into a day of service -- a day on, not a day off -- by organizing service activities for January 19. As Dr. King said, Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.

Update since Philadelphia Service Summit

The President also noted progress since the Presidents' service summit in April, when corporations, civic and educational organizations, and government entities committed to new action for children and youth. The Administration has followed up with more AmeriCorps scholarships, reading tutors for children through the America Reads initiative, mentoring efforts by federal agencies, new food recovery efforts, and the new $24 billion Children's Health Insurance Program signed into law this summer, which will give up to five million children who are now without access to health insurance a healthy start.