Edupreneurs- Below is an update on the time-sensitive challenges faced by Teach For America as they work hard this week to sustain AmeriCorps funding toMessage 1 of 1 , Jul 15, 2003View Source
Dear supporters and friends,
On Friday, we were stunned to learn that the Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds AmeriCorps programs, “de-funded” Teach For America. After nine years of being heralded as a flagship AmeriCorps program, we received a four-paragraph form letter explaining that we were receiving no national funding - in essence, that we are no longer a national AmeriCorps program. While we received state grants in three out of 20 sites, including education awards for 570 members, the Corporation’s decision leaves us short education awards for 2,700 of the 3,300 corps members who will be teaching this year, as well as a $2 million operating grant.
We are shocked by this news. While we had expected to receive less support than we did last year given the larger AmeriCorps crisis, we did not expect to be cut entirely. In fact, for years, we have received nothing but praise from AmeriCorps’ leadership and administration as a program that demonstrates results. When Senator Mikulski spoke on the Senate floor Friday morning about the need for additional funding for AmeriCorps, she singled out Teach For America for its excellence. The President singled us out as the only national AmeriCorps program to receive a special earmark in his 2004 budget, and Laura Bush has chosen to support our growth effort during her tenure as First Lady. Ironically, in a competitive grant process that ran parallel to the national AmeriCorps grant process, we just received the largest challenge grant to grow -- $2 million out of a $6 million pool. And, at every turn we have been assured by the leaders of the Corporation for National and Community Service and its umbrella the Freedom Corps that they support our growth effort and that we will receive the funding and support we need to grow.
We have not been able to understand the reason for this decision. We have been told that the competition was tougher than ever this year, for fewer slots, and that “our application didn’t score well”. Yet, last year we were the largest national program, we hit our outcome measures, we were encouraged throughout the application process by each and every critical person at AmeriCorps, and we did not hear a single red flag other than the need to “do more to build our identity as an AmeriCorps program.”
Irrespective, we simply must reverse this decision and attain the national funding we need to cover all our corps members this year. Our single hope is to ensure the $100 million supplemental is passed and signed by the President and to take steps to ensure we receive a sizeable chunk of the additional allocation. The House has passed the supplemental without the $100 million fix and so it will be up to the conferees from the House and Senate who will be meeting early this week to agree to include the fix. The biggest challenge is to build support for this move within the House, and we are hoping that you will help us do this.
In the next 24 hours, we need to show people in the House of Representatives, the Freedom Corps, and the Corporation For National Service the true strength of Teach For America. We need to show them that we are national service - that we have a significant impact on the nation’s most challenging social issues and that we have a lifelong impact on the civic engagement of corps members. We need to communicate our outrage at the loss in funding for 2,700 Teach For America corps members and we need to encourage the passage of a $100 million supplemental to address the problem.
The strength of Teach For America’s support began to become clear last week when the Senate passed the $100 million amendment for an AmeriCorps fix. This was a true victory. Three weeks ago, people told us we were literally crazy to think that it could happen. But thanks to the partnership of other service organizations, the leadership of Senator Mikulski, and very significantly the support Teach For America was able to rally in the Senate, we were able to make “the impossible” happen.
Now, with this new news, we need to show people in DC that they have only begun to see the power of Teach For America. Only a show of support as stunning as the news we received Friday will ensure the House supports the $100 million amendment and that the Corporation for National Service sees that Teach For America is fundamental to its very being. We will also be working with our supporters in the Senate to ensure that the language of the amendment makes it clear that Teach For America receives its due share of the additional funding.
We are requesting that you take a few minutes today to help. We encourage you to send your words of support to the staff suggested in the enclosed file within the offices of your Representatives, and to copy John Bridgeland at the Freedom Corps, who is also the White House liaison for AmeriCorps, as well as Rosie Mauk at the Corporation for National Service. See “How To Show Your Support” below for specific, easy instructions.
What you write is up to you. You might communicate your belief in Teach For America and your outrage that it has been de-funded. You might focus on the fact that as things currently stand 2,700 corps members will not receive education awards that enable them to defer student loans, pay down undergraduate debt, cover coursework toward certification, and pay future educational expenses. You should also specifically state that action must be taken to reverse the de-funding of Teach For America and that passage of the $100 million fix for AmeriCorps within the supplemental is the first step.
We also hope, if you are so moved, that you will enlist others in this effort. Please encourage your family, co-workers, friends - anyone who has been touched by Teach For America or believes that Teach For America is a great program.
The timeline is very short - we must act in the next 24 hours because the supplemental appropriation will be decided early this week.
This is a pivotal moment for Teach For America. It’s time for the rest of the world to get a glimpse of the true power of our movement.
How to show your support
1) Draft an email based on the above.
2) Figure out the appropriate Congressional contact.
a. If you do not know your Representative, go to www.house.gov and enter your zipcode on the first page - this takes about 15 seconds.
b. See the attached list of Congressional contacts. We have listed the email address of the appropriate contact in the office.
If you have a personal connection with a Senator or Representative, we encourage you to place a direct call and express your support for Teach For America, outrage at the de-funding, and hope that the supplemental will pass and that Teach For America’s corps members will be funded.
If you have direct connections to a Senator or Representative and urgently need to speak to someone on staff, please contact Jenn Isley at jisley@....