Funding will float state AmeriCorps program for another year

Montana State Parks AmeriCorps members locate and tag historic artifacts. (AmeriCorps photo)

Sen. Jon Tester joined Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday to announce $5.1 million in funding for statewide AmeriCorps programs that support conservation, health and legal services.

At least for another year.

Tester, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said President Donald Trump’s proposed budget looks to cut the Corporation for National and Community Service (the program that funds AmeriCorps) by 88 percent.

The president’s budget has not yet been adopted by Congress.

“AmeriCorps and the Montana projects they support are critically important to our state’s economy,” Tester said. “While we always look for ways to cut wasteful spending and reduce our debt, we cannot do it on the backs of volunteers and services that build and strengthen Montana’s economy.”

In addition to the $3.7 million in grants, the pool of funding includes $1.4 million in education awards for AmeriCorps members. Members are given the money after they complete their service to help pay for post-secondary education or pay down student loans.

More than 400 AmeriCorps members currently serving in Montana.

“AmeriCorps members make a remarkable difference in the lives of our fellow Montanans and provide innovative solutions to some of our state’s most pressing challenges,” said Bullock. “From improving and protecting our public lands to ensuring the next generation has the opportunity to succeed, AmeriCorps and the ethic of service it cultivates is invaluable to the strength of our state.”

The grant funding for Montana breaks down as follows:

  • – $645,055 for Governor’s Office of Community Service – AmeriCorps Members will work with the Governor’s Office of Community Service to fulfill his three-year needs assessment plan for service, volunteerism, and emergency preparedness.
  • – $127,130 for FoodCorps Montana – AmeriCorps members will connect children in public schools to healthy food through nutrition education, school garden construction, and improved school lunch offerings. (11 AmeriCorps members)
  • – $219,137 for Montana State Parks AmeriCorps – AmeriCorps members will improve 400 acres of land and ten miles of trail, provide environmental education, and respond to natural disasters. (21 AmeriCorps members)
  • – $242,477 for Montana Energy Corps – AmeriCorps members will provide weatherization and energy assistance services to low-income households and educate people in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable practices. (20 AmeriCorps members)
  • – $356,400 for Big Sky Watershed Corps – AmeriCorps members will provide environmental stewardship services for northern Rocky Mountains headwaters, improving at-risk ecosystems and local watersheds. (27 AmeriCorps members)
  • – $1,872,000 for Montana Conservation Corps – AmeriCorps members will complete various conservation projects, including fuels reduction, weatherization, watershed restoration, fencing, habitat enrichment, trail work, and more. (313 AmeriCorps members)
  • – $268,500 for Justice for Montanans – AmeriCorps members will expand access to civil legal information and services for low-to-moderate-income Montanans, recruit volunteers to educate, advise, and represent them in civil matters, and engage in targeted community outreach and education campaigns. (20 AmeriCorps members)