Improved Opportunities for Corps Created by New Surface Transportation Legislation

On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law P.L. 112-141, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Funding surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014, MAP-21 is the first long-term highway authorization enacted since 2005.  MAP-21 takes effect on October 1, 2012.

MAP-21 establishes a new program to provide for a variety of alternative transportation projects that were previously eligible activities under separately funded programs. This program is funded at a level equal to two percent of the total of all MAP-21 authorized Federal-aid highway and highway research funds, with the amount for each State set aside from the State’s formula apportionments. Eligible activities include:

• Transportation alternatives (new definition incorporates many transportation enhancement activities and several new activities)

• Recreational trails program (program remains unchanged)

• Safe routes to schools program

• Planning, designing, or constructing roadways within the right-of way of former Interstate routes or other divided highways.

Unless a State opts out, it must use a specified portion of its TA funds for recreational trails projects.

Thanks to hard work by The Corps Network and several of our members, the new law includes several provisions that are beneficial to Corps, if not putting them at a big advantage. Essentially, MAP-21 provides exceptions to certain requirements regarding pay rates and contracting requirements for projects using contracts and cooperative agreements with qualified youth service or conservation corps.  The new law includes language that:

• Defines youth service and conservation corps

• Encourages states and regional transportation planning agencies to enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with qualified youth service and conservation corps under the National Scenic Byways Program, Recreational Trails Program, Transportation Alternatives Program, Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian Walkways, and the Safe Routes to School Program

• Sets that any project carried out by a qualified youth service or conservation corps will be subject to the living allowance or rate of pay that is established by the Secretary.  Any project that is carried out within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway will be subject to this special rate of pay as opposed to the prevailing minimum wage rate.  The legislation also exempts contracts and cooperative agreements with youth service and conservation corps from Federal-aid highway program contracting requirements, which allows a State or regional transportation planning agency to sole-source contracts and cooperative agreements to qualified youth service and conservation corps for working undertaken for byway, recreational trail, TA, bicycle and pedestrian, or SRTS projects.

For more information on MAP-21 please visit the Federal Highway Administration MAP-21 summary on the Use of Youth Service and Conservation Corps. 

Wendy Spencer Confirmed as CEO of Corporation for National and Community Service

Yesterday, wrapping up a round of nominations before the Easter recess, the Senate confirmed Wendy Spencer as Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Originally nominated last fall, Spencer was confirmed along with several new members of the CNCS Board of Directors. The Corps Network and its 151 members are delighted with the confirmation of Ms. Spencer. Her extensive history and experience in the world of service are just what is needed at this time.

Ms. Spencer served on President George W. Bush’s Council on Service and Civic Participation and was appointed by three governors to lead Volunteer Florida, the Governor's Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service since 2003. Volunteer Florida is the official statewide coordinating agency for volunteers and donations in times of disasters. During Florida's record-breaking 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, Volunteer Florida coordinated more than 252,000 volunteers, as well as donated items totaling more than $85 million in value, which was the largest mobilization of volunteers in the history of U.S. natural disasters at that time. Ms. Spencer has worked across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to mobilize citizens to address problems facing their communities, and she is uniquely qualified to lead the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Many members of The Corps Network, as well as the organization itself, rely on programs administered by the Corporation, and Ms. Spencer’s proven leadership will help ensure that these programs continue to serve the thousands of people across the country for years to come. Additionally, in these trying economic times, it is important to have someone at the helm who can advocate passionately about the true importance of these programs, not only to the people who serve in them, but to those being served. With funding for the Corporation squarely on the table for cuts, and more and more Americans applying for Corporation programs to serve, having a CEO who can make the case for the importance of service is required, and Wendy Spencer is just that person.

The Youth Corps Act

Help Support the Youth Corps Act of 2011!

The number one goal of Service and Conservation Corps and The Corps Network is to see a dedicated funding stream established at the federal level to support Corps. With legislation pending in the House (H.R. 711), we’re closer to seeing that happen than at any other time in the past 25 years!

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono has introduced The Youth Corps Act of 2011, a bill that would create a home for Corps within the Department of Labor. Specifically, this legislation will create a grant program within the Department of Labor to provide funding for youth Service and Conservation Corps to access in order to provide education and job training to at-risk youth across the nation. 

Download “The Youth Corps Act” one pager to share with your members of Congress.

An impressive list of cosponsors is critical to moving this legislation forward. Current cosponsors include:

H.R. 711:

Rep Andrews, Robert E. [NJ-1] - 2/15/2011
Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] - 10/3/2011
Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] - 3/14/2011
Rep Chu, Judy [CA-32] - 10/5/2011
Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 7/13/2011
Rep Connolly, Gerald E. "Gerry" [VA-11] - 7/6/2011
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] - 8/30/2011
Rep Costa, Jim [CA-20] - 2/17/2011
Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 6/22/2011
Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-25] - 2/16/2012
Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 8/19/2011
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 2/16/2011
Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] - 7/25/2011
Rep Hanabusa, Colleen W. [HI-1] - 7/8/2011
Rep Kildee, Dale E. [MI-5] - 2/16/2011
Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 9/23/2011
Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] - 6/15/2011
Rep Lujan, Ben Ray [NM-3] - 3/8/2011
Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 2/15/2011
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 10/3/2011
Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] - 3/19/2012
Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] - 9/23/2011
Rep Richardson, Laura [CA-37] - 6/13/2011
Rep Velazquez, Nydia M. [NY-12] - 6/15/2011
Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 9/13/2011

The Youth Corps Act of 2011 is a win-win-win youth workforce building solution.