Dear Colleagues,

President Obama is expected to sign the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law in the coming days. This is a very exciting time for the Corporation and the entire national service and voluntary sector, representing both the culmination of years of hard work and the start of a new era of national service in America.

The Presidential bill-signing will be a landmark moment in the history of national service. We will be communicating with you again when we have details to share about the timing of the event and how you can watch and participate from afar in this historic moment. We also encourage you to use this opportunity to get the word out about the important work you are doing and discuss this milestone with your partners and volunteers.

This legislation is bold and far-reaching, authorizing a series of new initiatives, creating new programs for social innovation and volunteer generation, and making important and helpful changes to our existing operations. We hope you have had a chance to read the detailed summary and other explanatory materials about the bill on our legislation page.

We know you have lots of questions about the Act and how it will be implemented. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be working to answer those questions in the implementation process. We also will be developing a way to seek your input as we plan for carrying out the Act.

There are two broad points about implementation that we would like to emphasize. First, the law goes into effect on October 1, 2009, not on the day the President signs it. Congress chose this date to provide time for the Corporation and the national service field to plan and prepare for the extensive changes established in the law, and to coincide with the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Second, the Serve America Act is an authorization bill, not an appropriations bill. It makes changes in the underlying statutes that shape our programs and sets funding thresholds, but it does not itself fund them. The actual funding is set through the annual appropriations process. The President’s detailed budget request for FY 2010, expected later this spring, will be the starting point for that process, which will culminate in the fall. We will be working closely with Congress and the White House throughout this process to support the budget proposed by the President.

We wouldn’t have reached this historic landmark without the decades of hard work and resulting impact of national service participants and staff. The strong bipartisan votes in the House and Senate are a testament to the value of what our Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, VISTA, NCCC, Learn and Serve America, and other national service programs accomplish every day on the frontlines of communities across America. Many thanks for all that you do, and for your work in the days ahead.

In Service,

Nicola Goren
Acting CEO
Corporation for National and Community Service