Elkins Mayor Van Broughton announced Tuesday that the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area has received a $260,000 AmeriCorps grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
The grant will support 20 AmeriCorps members who will remove invasive species and restore valuable forest habitat to meet stewardship goals; weatherize historic public buildings or low-income homes; recruit and manage volunteers; and develop heritage tourism attractions to develop the economy in 16 West Virginia counties in the Appalachian Region.
"Citizen service is an essential part of the solution to many of the challenges facing our city, especially in tough economic times," Broughton said. "These AmeriCorps members will meet pressing local needs and strengthen our city as they develop civic and leadership skills that can last a lifetime. I congratulate the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area for receiving this grant and thank all those who have answered the call to service by joining AmeriCorps."
In addition to grant dollars, CNCS is setting aside funding to pay for Segal AmeriCorps Education awards for individuals who will serve in positions funded by these grants. After completing a full term of service, AmeriCorps members receive an education award of $5,550 that they can use to pay for college or to pay off student loans.
The current year's AmeriCorps grant cycle was highly competitive, due to the strong and growing demand by organizations seeking AmeriCorps resources. Demand is also strong from individuals wanting to serve. CNCS received a record-breaking 582,000 AmeriCorps applications in 2011, a dramatic increase from the 360,000 seen in 2009.
The grants advance the priorities of the bipartisan 2009 Serve America Act and focus AmeriCorps resources on six key service areas: disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families.
AmeriCorps is a national service program that engages Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service to meet critical needs. Its members serve through thousands of nonprofit and faith-based organizations in rural and urban communities throughout the nation. Among other activities, AmeriCorps members tutor and mentor youth, expand health services, build affordable housing, run after-school programs, help veterans access employment and other services, respond to disasters, and recruit and train other volunteers.
AmeriCorps, which is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, engages 80,000 people each year in intensive, results-driven service through more than 14,000 organizations across the country. Since 1994, more than 775,000 Americans have provided more than 1 billion hours of service to their communities and country through AmeriCorps. Among other accomplishments, AmeriCorps members last year mobilized 3.4 million community volunteers, and tutored, mentored or served more than 3.5 million disadvantaged youth. Interested individuals can learn about available opportunities and apply online by visiting AmeriCorps.gov.