Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tragic: The end of AmeriCorps*NCCC?

Today at the gym I saw a girl wearing an AmeriCorps*NCCC t shirt and I stopped to talk to her, thinking it was the rare occassion that I found another alum of the awesome national service program I served with. (For an essay about my NCCC experience, read this)

It turns out she is currently in AmeriCorps*NCCC and is in L.A. on a project, which is awesome. So we were talking about her experience and what they are doing and she told me something, well, tragic:

In his new budget, President Bush proposes to eliminate NCCC.

Here's the relevant paragraph from today's budget related press release from the Corporation for National Service (AmeriCorps' parent agency):

For AmeriCorps*NCCC, this budget requests only $4.9 million, which is intended to cover the cost of closing our campuses. This is a difficult decision, given the popularity of the program with our participants and partners, particularly in disaster response. However, the NCCC is costly compared to other AmeriCorps programs and was rated poorly in a recent Federal management assessment. The Corporation is committed to building up the rapid and flexible disaster recovery capacity of the NCCC within the rest of the national service portfolio.

This is really horrifying news for me. Obviously I want to be fair minded about the need to cut spending. But at a time when we're giving huge tax cuts primarily to the wealthy and a massively inefficient prescription drug benefit and lots of other waste, it's really hard for me to accept that a program which costs around $30 million and does a ton of good for communities in need around the country, as well as the young people who are members, deserves to be on the chopping block.

My time in AmeriCorps*NCCC was probably the most important year of my life. I did a lot of good and learned a lot about my fellow Americans and myself. It made me a true believer in the importance of national service as a way to improve our nation and the character of our citizens.

Right now I'm totally in shock that the government may eliminate a really important component of national service. It's a horrible mistake. I really hope Congress restores funding for NCCC, but I'm doubtful.

I'm trying to think myself if there is a way I could effectively organize people to save NCCC. If I come up with anything good, I'm sure I'll write about it here. At the least I'm going to try and drum up a little press interest.

1 comment:

Sean "Shadow" said...

Hi Ben,
I just came across your blog because I searched "Save NCCC" to see if others had wrote about the possible end of NCCC.

I also right now trying to figure out what I can do to help change congresses mind. There is one alum doing a lot under the site
I was hoping to see that others had sparked a fire. This is when I came across your blog.

I also in LA. I was a Capital Region Class X Corps Member. I worked for the TV show Fear Factor for three years before and after my year of service. This last season I was an Associate Producer, but I think I'm done with Hollywood at least for a while.

I'm currently getting ready to leave LA next month; move back with the folks for a couple of months, and then move to Philly to do a two years with Teach for America. I'm a going to be a middle school math teacher. I would never of applied or taken on the Teach for America challenage of working in the toughest schools with having done and loved my NCCC experience.

Just yesterday, I was thinking about what I can do besides writes letters to congresspersons and media outlets. I was thinking of doing a short five-minute video that could be giving to congress. My film college in Chicago did this once on a bill that was going through our state legistation. I figure I could get my former team leader to deliever them to save in shipping since he lives in DC.

Well, this is just a thought right now, but now I'm trying to figure out how to fund it. I have all my own video equipment, but to duplicate 600 DVD professionally. It would cost about $1200. Do you know of any organizations that might give grants or do pro-bono work like this?

I do believe the alumni will save NCCC,
Sean Gustafson