National service agency’s programs activated national network to provide American Rescue Plan relief funds to families

WASHINGTON, D.C.–AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteerism and national service, joined efforts across the Biden-Harris Administration to connect individuals to American Rescue Plan tax benefits. AmeriCorps’ programs, including VISTA, NCCC and Seniors, activated the agency’s networks to assist Americans with tax preparation, including the Child Tax Credit, to ensure all eligible families received their benefits. In total, more than $14 million was returned to communities through more than 8,000 tax returns for more than 9,200 individuals.

“AmeriCorps leveraged existing relationships in communities with the greatest need to assist more than 9,000 Americans,” said AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith. “The American Rescue Plan tax benefits, particularly the Child Tax Credit, provided some of the most concentrated poverty relief in modern American history. I am proud of the cross-collaboration of our programs to achieve unprecedented outreach that put millions of dollars back into homes and communities.” 

In June 2021, AmeriCorps sought agency activities and partnerships to promote registration in the expanded Child Tax Credit, a U.S. Department of Treasury program. Code for America partnered with the White House to create an improved, mobile and Spanish-language version of the online portal.

AmeriCorps hosted nine training events for more than 2,500 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers, grantees and sponsors. Once trained, the AmeriCorps network established activities to reach eligible Americans and facilitate their enrollment for the credit through the online portal.

AmeriCorps VISTA, a program dedicated to lifting communities out of poverty, issued temporary program flexibility for AmeriCorps members and sponsors to include Child Tax Credit outreach, education and individualized navigation into their current VISTA projects in September 2021. AmeriCorps VISTA also partnered with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to focus efforts of more than 200 AmeriCorps members serving in Promise Zones and EnVision Centers in low-income areas.

“Alleviating the effects of deep poverty is one of VISTA’s core missions, positioning our 4,000 members to be uniquely well-positioned to engage families who haven’t historically filed taxes,” said AmeriCorps VISTA director Meg Ansara. “AmeriCorps VISTA was honored to have partnered with agencies across the Administration on this important initiative.”

AmeriCorps NCCC, a program that empowers young adults to positively impact communities while gaining leadership skills, assisted families across the nation with tax preparation, including Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit claims.

“This year, NCCC teams nationwide collaborated with state and local partners to complete over eight thousand returns," said AmeriCorps NCCC director Ken Goodson. “NCCC’s critical work was accomplished with engaged partner agencies around the nation, as well as through NCCC’s role in strategic partnerships such as an Economic Mobility Program with the state of Colorado. AmeriCorps sends members in the NCCC program in response to urgent national priorities—supporting this historic tax season was an important national issue to our entire agency.”

AmeriCorps Seniors, a program for older Americans to serve in their communities, partnered with the Administration for Children and Families, the Office of Head Start and the National Head Start Association to provide support to families. Through this partnership, Head Start Center Family Services Staff connected community members with AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers to determine eligibility and support enrollment in the Child Tax Credit portal. In addition, AmeriCorps Seniors programs around the country expanded their partnerships to school districts, childcare programs, and tabled at community events to build awareness and support families in accessing this tax benefit.

“AmeriCorps Seniors’ Foster Grand Parent and RSVP programs were essential in connecting thousands of families to these benefits,” said AmeriCorps Seniors director Atalaya Sergi. “From sharing multi-lingual flyers to hosting information booths at community events, we activated one of the largest volunteer bases in the nation to help lift parents and children out of poverty.” 

AmeriCorps programs join the fight against poverty by helping local organizations expand their capacity to make change and deploying AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers to meet local needs.

AmeriCorps will continue collaborating with the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure that all AmeriCorps members, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers and partners have up-to-date information to assist eligible Americans. As part of its equity focus, AmeriCorps awards grants to projects which remove structural inequities and increase economic opportunity to achieve sustainable change in communities.