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Trump’s proposed funding cuts have potential impact on student volunteers

(Daily Bruni file photo)

By Ryan Leou

March 7, 2017 10:15 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly referred to Teach for America's paid corps members as volunteers.

A proposal to cut funding for national volunteer programs could affect recruitment of students for such programs at UCLA.

President Donald Trump proposed allocating less funding for Corporation for National and Community Service, which provides funding for programs such as Americorps, Teach for America and City Year, according to The New York Times.

UCLA has a history of sending large numbers of students and graduates into service programs. In 2014, UCLA sent 54 volunteers to City Year, the most of any university that year. UCLA also had 43 volunteers with the Peace Corps in 2017, the thirteenth most for universities with more than 15,000 undergraduates.

City Year is a nonprofit volunteer organization that focuses on keeping high school students on track for graduation.

Edgar Ortiz, a team leader of BruinCorps Volunteers in Service to America, said four UCLA alumni and 24 alumni from other universities currently volunteer.

Ortiz said he is worried funding cuts for Americorps would eliminate living stipends and education awards for their volunteers.

BruinCorps VISTA, a program under Americorps, partners with middle and high schools in several counties to increase college readiness among students and provide information about college requirements, Ortiz said.

He said the living stipends, which depend on the property values around the partner schools, are about $600. He added that though most volunteers live near the schools in which they work, some are from out-of-state and depend more heavily on the living stipend.

Ortiz also said the education awards, which are about $5,400, help volunteers pay for their school costs.

“If (the government) does take (funding) away, less people are enticed into joining,” Ortiz said. “People only get paid a little bit, but they work long hours.”

Teach for America, a program under Americorps, is working alongside a broad coalition urging Congress to maintain AmeriCorps funding, said Selina Duran, a recruitment manager for the organization.

Teach for America corps members commit to teach in public or public charter schools in low-income neighborhoods for at least two years.

“The Corporation for National and Community Service is crucial to our country, as it is a low-cost, high-yield solution to provide services, expand opportunity, develop the American workforce,” Duran said.

[Related: Student bikes across country, contributes to affordable housing cause]

Duran added the AmeriCorps education awards reduce the financial barriers to service by allowing corps members to defer their loans for two years and receive financial support to help offset their graduate studies, certification costs or pay back student loans.

“Such awards ensure that national service opportunities remain feasible for young leaders, including those from UCLA,” Duran said.

She added Corps members currently completing AmeriCorps service will not be impacted by this year’s funding decision.

A lack of funding has not deterred some students from being interested in Americorps programs.

Adi Sitaraman, a UCLA Extension student in marketing, said he would still participate in Americorps programs if they could not offer compensation.

“People who participate in these kinds of programs are doing it for the cause, not for the money,” Sitaraman said, “The right individuals will still apply so these programs won’t have any shortage of people”

Contributing reports by Deanna Necula, Daily Bruin contributor.


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