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What is “AmeriCorps”?  You’ve likely heard of the program. AmeriCorps is a federal program administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. As a beneficiary of the recent Serve Act of 2009, the size of AmeriCorps has been tripled to 210,000 members annually.

For former AmeriCorps member and Farrell Ink CEO Meagen Howe AmeriCorps means “an opportunity to serve our country and an introduction to a lifetime of service. My service introduced me to the fields of volunteer management and literacy, which have become my lifelong passions.”

After serving as an AmeriCorps member in 2004-05 at the West Side Catholic Center, Meagen Howe has remained active in alumni activities (especially lobbying for the Serve Act of 2009) and believes that implementing a literacy based program in Northeast Ohio will bring the resources of federal dollars, matching funds, and passionate individuals to meet a clearly identified local need. That’s why she approached the Literacy Cooperative to assist in the application of a grant for AmeriCorps.

Twenty-three of these members may soon be calling Northeast Ohio home, working and living in Cleveland to serve the community, and receiving an educational award at the end of their service. In late April the Literacy Cooperative submitted their AmeriCorps proposal “Northeastern Ohio Literacy Corps” to the state of Ohio.

With the overarching goal of infusing literacy into the community, the AmeriCorps grant will bring Members into Greater Cleveland to address the area’s acute need for literacy advancement.  Serving as either volunteer coordinators or direct service providers, AmeriCorps members will work with area agencies to advance financial, health, youth, and family literacy in the community. 

The Literacy Cooperative has led the planning activities that have taken place over 14 months and will be the fiscal agent when the grant is implemented in fall. At the conclusion of the planning process, committed organizations include:

University Settlement, a neighborhood center providing social services to residents of the Broadway/Slavic Village neighborhood will host a Member and also serve as the Project Lead.

Currently The Literacy Cooperative has been soliciting the matching funds necessary to bring the program to the area. Over three years, the proposed AmeriCorps program, “NEO Literacy Corps,” would bring at least $780,000 in AmeriCorps funding and $321,000 in educational awards for AmeriCorps members to support literacy in Northeast Ohio.

Bob Paponetti, executive director of the Literacy Cooperative, believes the AmeriCorps program will aid in the Literacy Cooperative’s priority area of building capacity. According to Bob Paponetti, “NEO Literacy Corps has great value and has the potential to do great things for the advancement of literacy.”



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