Iowa’s AmeriCorps program is expanding. Governor Culver has approved five new AmeriCorps programs in the state, bring the total number to 13. Adam Lounsbury, executive director for the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, says AmeriCorps is often described as the "domestic Peace Corps."
In Iowa, nearly half of the AmeriCorps members work with children."Over 250 of our 500 AmeriCorps members work with youth," Lounsbury says, "from mentoring, to recruiting mentors, working in schools, and building community coalitions. We have a program with Prevent Child Abuse Iowa and we have a program with Iowa State Extension that places members in communities across the state to work with youth development and after school programming."
Lounsbury says other volunteers are involved in environmental activities with the DNR or county conservation boards, or community-based projects, such as Habitat for Humanity.
AmeriCorps is a federally funded program. Most of the volunteers are in college or recent college graduates. "But there’s also the person that just retired," Lounsbury says, "or the person that’s just looking to do something different. We’ve had a lot of members that have been at home watching their children for 10 years, and now their children are grown up, and they’re going to do AmeriCorps for a year. So, we have a whole variety of different types of people."
AmeriCorps volunteers must be 17 years of age or older. In exchange for one year of service, AmeriCorps members receive a small allowance (around $10,000 to $15,000/year), and an education award of $4,750 to help individuals finance their college education or pay back student loans.
More information about AmeriCorps, and other volunteer opportunities in Iowa, can be found at www.volunteeriowa.org .