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Service Programs at NKU, Gateway Win Grant Funding

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) announced Friday that Kentucky has received more than $6 million in AmeriCorps federal funding for 19 programs with more than 1,000 members, including multiple ones in Northern Kentucky.

Most of the programs were funded through an annual grant competition by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that engages Americans of all ages in service. The remaining programs are funded through formula grant funds that are allocated to Kentucky by CNCS based on state population.

AmeriCorps is a national service program administered by the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS) in the CHFS. AmeriCorps grants are awarded to eligible organizations proposing to engage AmeriCorps members in evidence-based or evidence-informed interventions to strengthen communities. Members serve faith-based and nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, local government entities and state agencies.

CHFS Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson said the grants will help address critical issues across the commonwealth – like teaching and tutoring students, combatting homelessness, providing drug resistance education, protecting environmental resources, serving veterans and military families, empowering victims of domestic violence and assisting low-income senior citizens.

“Service builds our workforce, it builds our community resources and it builds character,” Sec. Glisson said. “National service also builds partnerships that help make our Commonwealth stronger. Through these AmeriCorps grants, local citizens are addressing local needs.”

Glisson said that including additional local funding and educational grants, AmeriCorps programs will result in a $15.3 million investment in Kentucky.

“Kentucky AmeriCorps is making an enormous impact here, now and for the future of our Commonwealth,” Glisson said. “We are proud of these members and that 100 percent of this funding is strengthening our communities.”

KCCVS Executive Director Joe Bringardner said the 2016 AmeriCorps grant cycle was highly competitive due to the strong demand by organizations competing for AmeriCorps resources. The national competition prioritized investments in economic opportunity, education, veterans and military families, disaster services and initiatives for governors and mayors.

Bringardner said he is particularly proud of Kentucky programs’ showing in this year’s national grant competition, as Kentucky received $2.2 million more this year over last year.

“Our programs really demonstrated their community-driven goals in their grant applications,” he said. “These programs have distinct goals to help educate youth, provide comfort to seniors and rebuild families’ lives by building homes,” he said. “Our AmeriCorps members use their talents, their vision and their boundless energy to establish immediate and long-lasting change in Kentucky.” 

Kentucky received $4 million for 10 programs in national competitive grant funding and were also allocated $2 million in formula grant funding to support additional state programs. The law creating AmeriCorps gave a key role to state service commissions in determining how national service resources are used to promote service and volunteering to meet specific community needs. With the state allocation, the KCCVS awarded grants to nine additional AmeriCorps programs.

AmeriCorps program sponsors are also contributing a total of $5.5 million in local funding matches, money from the private sector, foundations, community partnerships and other sources.

In addition to the grant funding, CNCS will make available nearly $3.7 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for the AmeriCorps members funded by these grants. After completing a full term of service, AmeriCorps members are eligible for an education award, currently $5,775, that can be used to repay student loans or cover tuition costs.

Bringardner said AmeriCorps can clear a path to higher education and a chosen career for many Kentuckians.

“Kentucky AmeriCorps provides millions of dollars for college,” he said. “This funding provides a path to education and a long-term livelihood. And most members stay in the field public service – their passion to serve is what drives them.”

Since AmeriCorps began in 1994, more than 10,000 Kentuckians have served more than 16 million hours and have received education awards totaling more than $37.5 million. Data collected from the last completed program year, reveals that 500 AmeriCorps members served more than 640,000 hours and recruited nearly 12,000 community volunteers who provided an additional 82,000 hours of service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and its citizens.

Competitive grants are awarded nationally for fixed time periods for specific projects and costs. Formula grants are awarded by the bipartisan KCCVS commission based on local needs, Governor’s Office priorities, geographic and program diversity, performance measurements and CNCS focus areas.

Grants were awarded to the Northern Kentucky programs listed below.

Gateway AmeriCorps

Sponsor: Gateway Community College (Florence)

CNCS Grant: $38,503 (funded by formula grant)

Local Match: $54,048

Member Slots: 20

Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $27,489

CNCS Focus Area(s): Capacity Building

Members apply academic knowledge and skills to provide needed direct and indirect services to economically disadvantaged individuals and families through skills-based matched placements at non-profits, local/regional government agencies, or educational entities located Northern Kentucky counties. Members are responsible for serving more than 2,000 Kentuckians, and for ensuring at least 70 percent participating agencies report improvements in the organization’s service capacity.

Kentucky College Coaches

Sponsor: Northern Kentucky University Research Foundation (Highland Heights)

CNCS Grant: $406,853 (funded by formula grant)

Local Match: $255,265

Member Positions: 79

Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $191,499

CNCS Focus Area: Education

Members serve as near peer coaches to high school students in 32 Kentucky counties, assisting students in building skills and gathering needed information to succeed academically and to navigate college preparatory tests, find scholarships, complete federal student aid applications and choose a college or post-secondary program that fits their skills and experience. Members are responsible for assisting disadvantaged youth graduate from high school and enroll in college. Less than full-time members provide support for first generation or disadvantaged college freshman and sophomores in six Kentucky counties to continue support for students once they get to college. Members are responsible for assisting college students to persist in school and ensuring participating students graduate on time. Members leverage an additional 500 community volunteers to assist with college access activities.

Kentucky Service Corps (Education Award Program)

Sponsor: Northern Kentucky University Research Foundation (Highland Heights)

CNCS Grant: $52,000 (funded by formula grant)

Local Match: $57,640

Member Positions: 274

Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards: $375,375

CNCS Focus Area(s): Education, Veteran and Military Families

Members, who are themselves low-income, first generation, disadvantaged, underserved and/or veteran college students, provide communities with service learning experiences in schools, nonprofits and government agencies across the commonwealth. In the process of providing service to others, members strengthen their own resilience to stay in college and earn a college degree. Members provide service to more than 5,000 Kentuckians, with at least 10 percent being college students at risk of dropping out. Members leverage an additional 400 volunteers to assist with program goals.

-Staff report