AmeriCorps Awards $10 Million in Grants to Support 1,600 New AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteers Nationwide
AmeriCorps Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent programs focus on alleviating isolation and loneliness for seniors and volunteers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteering and service, today announced nearly $10 million in grant funds to expand two key AmeriCorps Seniors programs, Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion, to communities in 16 states and Puerto Rico.
Combined, these competitive grants will support an additional 1,600 AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers. A complete list of programs awarded is available online. Many of the newly funded projects are located in high poverty and underserved geographic regions and include a focus on helping local communities respond to, and recover from, the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For the past year, our world has been turned upside down, but the one constant has been the power of people working together to address unimaginable challenges,” said Atalaya Sergi, director of AmeriCorps Seniors. “With the new grants we’re announcing today, we are creating more opportunities for older Americans to serve, to share their knowledge and wisdom, and in turn help us deliver on the promise to create a stronger, healthier, more united nation. I’m proud that in these difficult times, AmeriCorps Seniors can support communities to build back better.”
Now more than 50 years old, the Foster Grandparent program engages older adults as tutors, mentors, and caring adults for children facing academic challenges and those needing extra supports at school and in the community. The Senior Companion program, which has operated for more than 40 years, provides companionship and assistance with daily tasks to help other older adults, most of whom are homebound, live fuller, more independent lives, while maintaining their self-sufficiency and aging in place.
A growing body of research affirms the numerous mental and physical health benefits of volunteering, especially for older volunteers, including lower mortality rates, decreased rates of depression, and increased strength and energy.
Findings from an agency-sponsored study confirm that AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serving with the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs report feeling less depressed and isolated, along with stable or improved health scores – results that reinforce the unique value of AmeriCorps Seniors programs, particularly at a moment when the country is facing an epidemic of isolation caused by the pandemic.
For the past year, thousands of AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors members across all 50 states and U.S. territories have continued their service, quickly adapting to meet the changing needs caused by the pandemic. Dedicated volunteers have persisted in supporting community response and recovery efforts, developing new ways to deliver the same services virtually or through socially distanced options to keep both themselves and those they serve safe.
AmeriCorps will announce additional funding opportunities for AmeriCorps Seniors programs later this year.
The recently passed American Rescue Plan includes an additional $1 billion for AmeriCorps. The agency will use this investment to expand national service programs into new communities and increase the opportunity for all Americans to serve their country. With existing programs in more than 40,000 locations across the country, AmeriCorps is uniquely positioned to bolster community response efforts.