SEATTLE AND OLYMPIA (August 2, 2022) – Serve Washington, the Schultz Family Foundation and Ballmer Group today announced $2.98 million in investments to benefit AmeriCorps participants across Washington state. These investments build on innovations piloted through the WA COVID Response Corps, a first-of-its kind program launched in 2020 to address critical needs triggered by the pandemic.
The investments will expand support for community organizations and young adults participating in AmeriCorps across the state through subsidies and technical assistance for smaller non-profits participating in AmeriCorps for the first time and increased federal awards supporting increased stipends for AmeriCorps members. The investments will also provide tailored career counseling and access to low- or no-cost certificates to develop skills in high-demand, living wage occupations.
The WA COVID Response Corps was a joint partnership of Serve Washington and the Schultz Family Foundation launched during the height of theCOVID-19 crisis. By combining federal and state government resources with investment from private philanthropy, the program successfully engaged a diverse network of community organizations, including many host sites new to AmeriCorps, to meet community needs associated with the pandemic. At the same time, the program also created service opportunities for young people who reflect the socioeconomic, racial and ethnic diversity of the communities they serve.
Over the past two years, the WA COVID Response Corps enlisted225 young adults across Washington state. Members volunteered at 120 non-profit organizations to address food insecurity, learning loss, housing instability, and more. In partnership with host sites, members helped to deliver 36million pounds of food and serve 9 million meals to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity. In total, the program has supported more than 3million Washingtonians across 17 counties.
The program also piloted meaningful innovations designed to help AmeriCorps become an even more powerful partner in offering members who serve opportunities to grow and excel in their careers while effectively addressing emerging community needs. These innovations included:
• Supporting 82 new community-based organizations, often operating closest to those in need, to benefit from the AmeriCorps program.
• Increasing the AmeriCorps stipend to better reflect the cost of living in the county where members served.
• Providing highly responsive cash assistance to 20 percent of WA COVID Response Corps members facing a critical emergency, including housing, transportation or health related circumstances.
• Enabling more than 80 percent of WA COVID Response Corps members to enroll in skills training aligned with their personal career goals to complement their service experience.
Recognizing the impact of the innovations and success of the program on young adults and communities, Serve Washington, the Schultz Family Foundation, and Ballmer Group have committed $2.98 million in 2022 and 2023 to increase the diversity of people and organizations participating in AmeriCorps in Washington state. The $2.98 million investment will be used as follows:
• $1.9 million in additional Federal AmeriCorps funding and AmeriCorps Rescue Plan Funding is being directed by Serve Washington to support programs in raising stipends from prior year levels for their AmeriCorps members.
• $580,000 from the Schultz Family Foundation to Serve Washington to increase the number of diverse non-profits participating in AmeriCorps by subsidizing host site fees and providing training and technical assistance.
• $500,000 directed by the Ballmer Group to Serve Washington to enhance service-to-career pipelines for diverse young adults through career assessment tools, career clarity and job search coaching, and online courses to develop skills in high-demand, living wage occupations in the state. Ballmer Group’s $500,000 investment is part of $2 million in funding that the Ballmer Group has committed to the Schultz Family Foundation’s National Service Challenge to support national service programs across the country.
• “AmeriCorps members provide tremendous support and service to communities all across the state. During the pandemic AmeriCorps members stepped up to serve as catalysts for meeting the heightened needs in communities. This investment will not only ensure continued support for communities, it also has the potential to create career pathways for the members themselves. That is a double return on the investment,” said Governor Jay Inslee.
• “Job prospects for young adults have been impacted adversely and disproportionately by the pandemic. AmeriCorps members serving in the WA COVID Response Corps have frequently said career exploration and skill development are some of the most valuable benefits they received during their service. AmeriCorps members serve our state for only a year, but in that one year, the skills and experience gained can be life-changing. We believe national service can be a pathway to careers and we’re excited this partnership will help AmeriCorps members use their service to navigate their careers moving forward,” said Amber Martin-Jahn, executive director for Serve Washington.
• “We are extremely grateful for the hardworking young people who helped millions of Washington families as AmeriCorps members over the past two years. By combining federal and state government resources with private philanthropy, the WA COVID Response Corps provided valuable lessons for how we can make national service more accessible and diverse for young people and communities," said Tyra Mariani, Schultz Family Foundation president.
• “AmeriCorps has the potential to improve economic mobility for young people, while also addressing significant community needs. We are excited to expand the service-to-career pathways for AmeriCorps members in Washington by supporting more career exploration, skill development, credential attainment, and post-service transition supports,” said Eshauna Smith, Ballmer Group's director of community impact.
About Serve Washington
Serve Washington a State Commission, advances national service, volunteerism and civic engagement to improve lives; expands opportunity to meet the local critical needs of residents of Washington; and strengthens community capacity while creating healthy and resilient communities. Authorized by Executive Order #16-08, a 20-member board of Governor- appointed commissioners supports and advises Serve Washington. Learn more at servewashington.wa.gov
About the Schultz Family Foundation
The Schultz Family Foundation, established in 1996 by Sheri and Howard Schultz, interim ceo and chairman emeritus of Starbucks, creates pathways of opportunity for populations facing barriers to success, focusing on youth transitioning to adulthood and marginalized populations, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. By investing in scalable solutions and partnerships in communities across the country, the Foundation aims to help tackle the barriers and roadblocks that prevent individuals from reaching their full potential and, in doing so, strengthen our communities and our nation. For more information about the Foundation and its work: schultzfamilyfoundation.org.
About Ballmer Group
Ballmer Group is committed to improving economic mobility for children and families in the United States, funding leaders and organizations that have demonstrated the ability to reshape opportunity and reduce systemic inequities. We focus on multiple impact areas and systems that can impact economic mobility - such as early learning, K-12education, college and career pathways, housing, health, and criminal justice -and we support leaders and organizations that focus on undoing systemic racism and the barriers it has created. Ballmer Group is both a national and regional funder – we have a presence and invest deeply in southeast Michigan, Washington state, and Los Angeles County. Ballmer Group was co-founded by philanthropist Connie Ballmer and her husband Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, founder of USAFacts, and chairman of the Los Angeles Clippers. Learn more at www.ballmergroup.organd on Twitter @BallmerGroup.
About AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service
This AmeriCorps funding is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, civic engagement, and national service programs. For over 25years, more than 1 million dedicated Americans have joined AmeriCorps and pledged to 'get things done.' This year, the 75,000 AmeriCorps members serving in schools, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, will do the same as they rebuild communities, support veterans, fight the opioid epidemic, prepare students for success, foster economic opportunity, and more. Those interested in serving can learn more at AmeriCorps.gov/Join.
Schultz Family Foundation
Zack Hutson, chief communications officer
Amber Martin-Jahn, Executive Director