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.