Opinion: Expand AmeriCorps to Help Recovery From Pandemic

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As talks between the White House and Congress stall, Americans are still grappling with the crippling impact of the pandemic. To move our country forward, we need to bring Americans together to help communities respond to and recover from COVID-19.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators have a plan to do just that through the CORPS Act, which would expand and strengthen AmeriCorps to provide critically needed services and give Americans purpose-driven work, a living stipend, and help to pay for college.

In 2019-20, over 785 AmeriCorps members served communities across Maryland, from Garrett County to Baltimore City to Wicomico County, engaging disadvantaged youth, providing mentoring and advocacy services, protecting our environment, or restoring aging housing.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members in Baltimore have been expanding food pantry capacity, tutoring students, and helping patients receive proper health care and access to social services. But we need more boots on the ground.

Congress should include the funding and provisions from the CORPS Act in the coronavirus aid and economic stimulus package. It’s a bipartisan solution to an urgent problem.

— JEFFREY ZWILLENBERG

The writer is executive director of Reading Partners Baltimore, a children’s literacy non-profit which relies on AmeriCorps members to serve elementary students in Baltimore.