The Corps Network Applauds the Release of the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal

California Conservation Corps Corpsmembers work in Kings Canyon National Park.
WASHINGTON  On behalf of the nation’s 100+ Service and Conservation Corps, The Corps Network applauds the release of the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget proposal. In particular, we commend the Administration’s focus on youth and economic development through the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative which features the launch of the National Parks Centennial Initiative and the focus on expanding opportunities in AmeriCorps for more diverse corpsmembers.
The Centennial Initiative would put thousands of, youth, veterans and others to work on making improvements to our nation’s National Parks for the 100th anniversary in 2016, and would also include improvements to national forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands. It would provide $100 million for a Centennial Challenge to match private philanthropy, $200 million for National Park Service facilities improvements, and $100 million for a Centennial Land Management Investment Fund. The Corps Network has been working with the Administration through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to develop a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) to accomplish the related goal of thousands of youth and veterans working to improve our public lands and resources.
In response, The Corps Network’s President and CEO, Mary Ellen Ardouny said “We applaud President Obama for including increased funding for America’s national parks in his new budget. For too many years, some of our nation’s most treasured places have lacked the necessary maintenance they need.” Ardouny continued, “Through initiatives like the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, we truly believe that we can provide more opportunities for youth and young adults to work and serve in national parks, and in doing so cultivate the next great generation of American conservation leaders.”
The Department of Interior highlighted additional youth-specific investments such as $50.6 million for Interior Department youth programs, a 37% ($13.6 million) increase from 2014.  Interior intends for a major part of those investments to be through partnerships with youth organizations in the 21CSC and through increasing youth-related funding in the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service Urban Wildlife Refuges Partnership, and Indian Affairs.   
The U.S. Forest Service will also play a role in the Centennial Initiative through Capital Improvement and Maintenance projects related to the President’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and will include the use of funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to enhance public enjoyment of public lands, particularly the Forest Service’s wilderness areas. According to the Administration, the Centennial Initiative would overall create thousands of jobs, and engage more than 10,000 youth in service and training opportunities and more than 265,000 volunteers.
In addition, The Corps Network commends the President and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) for certain aspects of their proposal that are designed to keep AmeriCorps strong, make Education Awards a priority, and provide for a record 114,000 AmeriCorps members. In addition, The Corps Network applauds the Corporation’s intention to provide more positions for disconnected and low-income youth that can serve as pathways to higher education and employment.  The Corps Network works closely with CNCS to provide AmeriCorps opportunities to thousands of Corpsmembers each year and is working to ensure more Opportunity Youth (disconnected and low-income youth) have opportunities to serve such as through our Opportunity Youth Service Initiative.
“We’re thrilled CNCS is continuing to expand service opportunities for non-traditional AmeriCorps members like Opportunity Youth, which have always been a priority for Corps of The Corps Network. However, while we are supportive of expanding AmeriCorps generally, we are concerned the expansion as planned may come at the expense others partners in service. One program should not benefit at the expense of another,” said Ardouny. "We look forward to working with CNCS to improve on national service funding, recognition, and availability of service opportunities for diverse youth as a pathway to a career or further education.”  

About The Corps Network

The Corps Network's 100+ members operate in all states and the District of Columbia. Each year they collectively enroll over 25,838 Corpsmembers from ages 16-25. Corps organize an additional 154,486 community volunteers who work alongside Corpsmembers to generate 450,013 additional hours of service annually, at an estimated value of $9,963,287. It is the mission of The Corps Network to provide national leadership and promote the growth and quality of its member Corps as they provide education, workforce development, and an ethic of stewardship to diverse youth who address important community and conservation needs.

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