Written by: Learn and Serve – Michigan Team
In a post from March 2, 2011, we wrote a blog entitled “Why National Service Funding is Important.” This blog post explained H.R. 1, legislation that would make deep cuts in government spending for Fiscal Year 2011, and how it would affect the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). In early April, congress announced the actual $38 billion in cuts that would be enacted for Fiscal Year 2011. CNCS had to reduce its budget by $74.6 million for Fiscal Year 2011. This cut included a $40 million in reduction of Learn and Serve America funding; a deal that eliminated Learn and Serve America funding entirely.
What is the impact of loss of Learn and Serve of America funding in Michigan?
The immediate result of this cut is that the Michigan Community Service Commission, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education, will not be able to grant nearly half a million dollars in federal funds for its Learn and Serve – Michigan school-based programs like it did in 2010-2011. More than 2,500 teachers and 50,000 students will have fewer resources with which they can meaningfully engage in their community and classroom. Sadly, the infrastructure for service-learning across this country will be compromised.
It isn’t all bad news in Michigan. Across this state there are programs that began with Learn and Serve funds that now have service-learning integrated into the culture and habits of the schools. Through deliberate sustainability planning we’ve worked together to put into place a teaching practice that is so much more than a program. Teachers use service-learning in the classroom because they know it engages students. Community agencies partner with students not just because of the benefits for the students but because they know the partnership is an investment in the civic health of their community. School administrators support the practice because they know it works. In thousands of classrooms across Michigan, service-learning lives and breathes and will be in place well beyond the loss of this federal funding.
The Michigan Community Service Commission remains committed to the growth of service-learning. Meaningful youth engagement is central to our work and to the vitality of our state. While the resources available will be different, we want to work with you to create the next iteration of service-learning. Here is our question to you:
What can we do to help you sustain service-learning without this funding? What are the critical elements of the program that we need to sustain? How can we work together to maintain our momentum in the field? We need your help. We encourage you to comment and respond, as we would love to hear any feedback that you can provide!
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