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A Historic New Partnership to Strengthen Disaster Services

by Robert Velasco, II

A new chapter in the history of national service began today with today's announcement of a partnership with FEMA to strengthen the nation's ability to respond to and recover from disasters and expand career opportunities for young people. The five-year agreement provides for an additional 1,600 AmeriCorps NCCC members annually to supplement our current NCCC force.

This partnership builds on a model that works – from the very first Civilian Conservation Corps, which put millions of young men to work on public lands during the Great Depression, to today – with tens of thousands of young people in service and conservation corps across the country. AmeriCorps NCCC is part of this strong legacy.

AmeriCorps NCCC members of today are constantly on call. They live together, serve together, and work hand-in-hand with communities across the country to address pressing local problems, together. NCCC members are always ready, willing, and able to serve. Even in the most humbling circumstances – sleeping in tents and church basements – they serve with a special kind of enthusiasm, energy and commitment.

The new FEMA Corps members will strengthen the nation's disaster response capacity and increase the diversity of the disaster workforce, while providing educational and economic opportunities for young people as they consider their future careers. Just like current NCCC members, the members of this new unit will serve for a 10-month term with an option to extend for a second term. The first members of FEMA Corps will begin serving in September 2012 and the program will reach full capacity within 18 months.

This partnership is a win all around -- benefiting communities and individuals affected by disasters; disaster response organizations; young people who serve; and the taxpayer.

Today, we celebrate an exciting new chapter for CNCS and the national service field that reflects a proud history and bright future of supporting Americans during their greatest time of need.

We're proud to add another 1,600 members to the national service family each year and we're honored to be there when Americans are facing some of their toughest times – in the hours, days and even weeks, months and years following a disaster. With this partnership, more Americans can have peace of mind that help is on the way.

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