April 21, 2010; NPR | National Public Radio’s assessment on what’s happened since Congress passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act one year ago finds mixed results. On the positive side, the bill has created significantly more volunteer opportunities and tripled the size of the AmeriCorps national service program. At the same time, “the money has just started to trickle out,” and “only one program”—Summer of Service—has been created, according to Pam Fessler of NPR.
The report also indicates an uptick in the number of Americorps applications—something that Patrick Corvington, the director of the Corporation for National and Community Service attributes to a new attitude about service. Others, however, are more cautious, pointing to the economy as a possible contributor to the increase in interest in the program.
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The report cites Howard Husock, director of the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Manhattan Institute, as intrigued by the Social Innovation Fund’s potential to identify creative nonprofits as models but nervous that they’ll become “the new normal for hidebound bureaucratized federal programs . . . and that these bright young stars are themselves going to get captured and become bureaucratized.” He says he also worries about the impact on the nonprofit world of the government deciding who gets all of these new AmeriCorps volunteers.—Cynthia Gibson