By Amanda Heileman
President Donald Trump wants to eliminate AmeriCorps, a national volunteer service program that receives widespread bipartisan support and is a subset of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
AmeriCorps consists of Americans who dedicate their time and skills to get things done for a small financial stipend and a large social impact. More than 80,000 people join AmeriCorps each year and address issues ranging from supporting veterans and military families to environmental conservation, economic opportunity, disaster relief and education efforts.
I joined AmeriCorps in 2013, and I remember how it took three days to teach Fernando how to use a compass. I remember how excited I was when he finally understood the needle only points north instead of in the direction you want to go.
I remember when I took my group of five girls outside on our last day together, and they asked me to explain what a menstrual period was because their mothers wouldn’t talk about it with them and they felt uncomfortable asking their teachers.
Trump wants to completely eliminate funding for AmeriCorps and 18 other federal government agencies in order to increase military spending. Republicans signed a letter asking Trump not to eliminate AmeriCorps because the public-private partnership actually saves taxpayers money, and 78 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats both strongly support investing tax dollars into national volunteer service. In addition to this, eliminating and steeply cutting funds to the programs proposed in Trump’s budget plan could cut 100,000-200,000 federal civilian jobs that benefit the U.S. economy.
Trump also claims he will “redefine the proper role of the government.” To him, this means reducing involvement in domestic areas, and putting that money into the military to protect Americans. At face value, this sounds perfectly fine; I understand people want to feel safe and keep more of their hard-earned money for themselves and their family instead of going to organizations that serve the community.
I want safety and prosperity just as much as the next American, but I also believe in supporting communities and providing resources all citizens need to thrive.
Using the tools and resources given to her through government aid, my mother was able to break the cycle of poverty—not just for herself, but for all of her children. AmeriCorps did the same thing for me. I am proud to say that I am a first-generation college student, but I am even more proud of the work I was able to do inspiring middle-school-aged kids to break the cycle as well.
AmeriCorps gave me the opportunity to mentor young people who were experiencing similar challenges I once faced myself, and to encourage them that even when they have nothing, they can achieve success.
Trump’s budget plan singles out Americans who need our help the most. AmeriCorps provides resources that allow people to break through challenging life circumstances and the cycle of poverty.
AmeriCorps inspires young people, provides workforce development opportunities and helps local communities thrive. To defund or divest a program that benefits so many in order to increase an already massive military budget would not only be nonsensical, but un-American.