AmeriCorps will soon get a boost

March 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Volunteerism is on the rise in the U.S. That's according to several non-profit agencies in the country. Many directors say they've had a surge in the number of people wanting to help.

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Meantime, the White House is backing a bill that would triple the funding given to the AmeriCorps program, President Obama wants to build AmeriCorps from its current size of 75,000 employees, to 250,000.

Those at the San Jose AmeriCorps office say they would love the increase in funding and employees. They have also seen a spike in the number of applicants.

Jeff Russell, who is a Development Coordinator for AmeriCorps San Jose, says only 15 people signed up from September of 2008 to January of this year. However, during the months of February and March, 2009, he's had 20 people join the group. He thinks there are several contributing factors.

Russell says many students at San Jose State University admit that finding a job is more challenging than they expected. Therefore, working for a group like his, which offers a stipend of $11,400 a year and helps pay for college, is an option many are pursuing. He also believes President Obama's call for volunteerism left an impact on many young people, who are more interested than ever in donating their time.

Maria Prado is a junior at San Jose State. She started her stint with AmeriCorps in September. She works as a tutor at the Third Street Community Center, seven hours a week and is paid $300 a month. She says she has told other friends who have not been able to line up a summer job, to apply to the AmeriCorps program.

A few have taken her advice.

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