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October 27, 2016

Advocating for good: Reading Partners, AmeriCorps on Capitol Hill

Most national service supporters are first introduced to AmeriCorps/VISTA by way of an organization that hosts members. Reading Partners is one such organization; we recruit AmeriCorps and VISTA members to help us achieve our mission—from managing our reading centers and tutoring students, to supporting our development work—and many more things in between.

However, many people who come into contact with AmeriCorps members never even know it. The complicated task of explaining the relationship between AmeriCorps and the host organization too often gets lost in the 30 seconds each staff or member has to deliver their elevator pitch. The truth is, AmeriCorps makes it possible for thousands of nonprofits throughout the country to serve communities; and yet it rarely gets the credit—or, more importantly, the support—it deserves.

Enter Voices for National Service: a public policy group focused on increasing congressional support for AmeriCorps and the policies that affect it. Voices For National Service mobilizes AmeriCorps organizations to tell our stories to the elected officials in charge of funding National Service, and on September 21, that’s just what Reading Partners did.

As part of the annual Voices for National Service Hill Day, Reading Partners, Jumpstart, and JVC Northwest met with representatives from Texas and Washington state, including Congressman Michael McCaul, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Adam Smith, and Senator Patty Murray. Every year, AmeriCorps finds itself on the federal chopping block, and every year, national service supporters rally to make the case to save it and grow it. During our meetings with representatives we invited those who are not yet members to join the National Service Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators dedicated to raising awareness about the positive impact of national service. Though it’s an issue where many voters find common ground—78 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents, and 90 percent of Democrats support increasing federal spending for programs like AmeriCorps—we need a louder, bigger voice to make it a priority.

At Reading Partners, we’re proud to be one of these voices, and we’re in it for the long haul—for our students, our schools, and AmeriCorps members. We’re putting a stake in the ground to support national service so we can grow AmeriCorps, grow our program, and ultimately impact more students.

To support our work, call your elected official to tell them how the federal investment in national service is making a difference in your community. Here’s how to help.

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