News and analysis
February 13, 2012

Obama Would Give Small Increase to National-Service Budget but End Some Programs

President Obama today proposed increasing the budget for the Corporation for National and Community Service by 1.3 percent next year, to almost $1.1-billion—providing enough money to keep about 82,500 AmeriCorps members, the same as now.

In his budget for the 2013 fiscal year, the president said he would also increase spending on the Social Innovation Fund, a grants program to expand effective nonprofit social projects, to $50-million, up from just under $45-million in 2012.

However, the president proposed to eliminate two programs that the agency operates—the Volunteer Generation Fund, which provides money for projects to help charities recruit and manage volunteers, and the Nonprofit Capacity Building Program, which awards grants to organizations to provide training and management help to small and medium-size charities.

Both of those programs were created by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009, although they never received the budget allocations that the bill envisaged—$50-million for the volunteer fund and $5-million for the capacity-building fund. The volunteer fund got $3.9-million last year, and the training one received no money last year and less than $1-million in 2011.

Mr. Obama called them “low priority” programs and said he was forced to make “difficult choices” because of budget constraints.

Inspector General’s Budget

Mr. Obama’s budget also fails to resuscitate the Learn and Serve America program, a community-service program for students that Congress killed in 2011.

President Obama said his budget for AmeriCorps—$470-million—is just a sliver less than this year’s. The Serve America Act called for a big expansion of AmeriCorps, to 250,000 by 2017, but concerns over the federal deficit have made that unlikely. House Republicans have tried to kill the program completely several times in recent years.

The president’s budget would restore some of the money that Congress cut from the agency’s inspector-general’s office in the 2012 budget. Lawmakers approved a spending bill late last year that cut that office’s budget from $7.7-million to $4-million, prompting the inspector-general's office to warn it would have to lay off staff and decrease oversight. Mr. Obama proposed increasing the budget to $5-million.