Reauthorization of the Corporation for National and Community Service

April 11, 2002

Reauthorization of the Corporation for National and Community Service "Citizen Service Act" Would Expand and Improve AmeriCorps, SeniorCorps, & Learn and Serve

President Bush recently unveiled his principles to strengthen and reform the programs of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Corporation CEO Leslie Lenkowsky, shared the President's proposal on Capitol Hill on April 9, 2002, testifying before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, and then again on April 11, before the House Workforce Select Education Subcommittee.

The President released a 17-page Principles and Reforms for a Citizen Service Act to guide the reauthorization of the Corporation and its programs: AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America. These programs engage 2 million Americans in service to meet critical community needs each year. The proposed 5-year extension would be the first since the Corporation's creation in 1993.

President Bush is proposing legislation, a "Citizens Service Act," that would reform the National and Community Services Trust Act. This directly affects individuals with disabilities who may wish to participate in national service. The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), the UCE at University of Massachusetts in Boston, in partnership with AUCD, instituted a cooperative agreement with the Corporation for National and Community Service to implement the National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP). NSIP is a national training and technical assistance project for the Corporation with the goal of increasing the participation of members and volunteers with disabilities in national service. (For more information about the project go to the NSIP website.

According to representatives of the Equal Opportunity Office and the Corporation for National and Community Service, three major revisions are proposed that would reduce barriers to participation in national service programs for people with disabilities.

Grants for accommodation to increase the placement of individuals with disabilities will no longer be limited to certain parts of AmeriCorps

Currently, select programs authorized under the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993 (AmeriCorp State & National and National Civilian Community Corp programs) have use of funding to provide accommodations for people with disabilities.

Under the President's proposal, grants for accommodations to increase the placement of individuals with disabilities will be made available to all other streams of service (AmeriCorp VISTA, Senior Corp and Learn and Serve).

Additionally, the amount made available to assist individuals with disabilities participate in national service through accommodation grants will be increased from $5 million to $10 million.

Service in AmeriCorps would no longer negatively affect entitlement to disability benefits

Many individuals with disabilities rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to support their income. Currently, the living allowance provided to AmeriCorps members under the National and Community Service Act of 1990 is included as income for purposes of determining eligibility for SSI and members with disabilities have basic benefits provided under the Social Security Act reduced or eliminated because of their participation in specific AmeriCorps programs (AmeriCorp State & National and NCCC programs). For this reason, SSI recipients fear the loss or reduction of their SSI income as a result of their serving in AmeriCorps programs. Further, both SSI and SSDI recipients are vulnerable to having their service lead to a determination that they are not "disabled" and therefore not eligible for disability-based benefits. This unfair treatment serves as a major disincentive for individuals with disabilities to participate in AmeriCorps. The Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (authorizing AmeriCorp VISTA and Senior Corp. programs) contains wording that protects the monthly stipend that people receive while serving from asset tests for SSI and SSDI programs.

Therefore, the President's proposal calls for the creation of pilot programs that would allow individuals with disabilities to choose the national service organizations they wish.

Additionally, members with disabilities will have greater options for using the education award, including new opportunities for productive work. At this time, individuals with disabilities often cannot take advantage of the educational award.


The overall expansion of service opportunities under these reforms will mean that more individuals with disabilities will have opportunities to serve in their communities.

Four bills have been introduced to date:

The Citizen Service Act of 2002 (H.R. 4854), legislation to reform and enhance the Corporation for National and Community Service and its programs was introduced May 24, 2002.

For a complete text of the bill, visit to search for the full text of H.R. 4854.

Additional legislation effecting the Corporation for National and Community Service or its programs proposed in the 107th Congress are:

The Call to Service Act S. 1792

Right of Passage Community Service Act H.R. 4803

Hubert H. Humphrey Civic Education Enhancement Act H.R. 3234 and S. 1238

Text of these bills are also available at

For updates regarding the Reauthorization of the National and Community Service Trust Act for the Corporation for National and Community Service, visit AUCD's Public Policy website or the National Service website.