AmeriCorps, an independent federal agency that provides stipends for more than 5 million Americans who do volunteer work, misled the public on how much it spends in its grant program.
A program launched under President George H.W. Bush, AmeriCorps was expanded under President Bill Clinton and officially became a corps under Bush’s son, President George W. Bush. Today, though, it appears to have become rotten to the core.
The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project recently obtained information showing that AmeriCorps, which received $1.1 billion last year in congressional appropriations, purposely misled Americans on the amount it spent on grants. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
Unfortunately, the Oversight Project’s investigation uncovered more than we could imagine: instances in which AmeriCorps leadership held back information on the size of the agency’s grants.
We also found that AmeriCorps, in its words, embedded “diversity, equity, and inclusion” in the fabric of the agency.
Records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that Sonali Nijhawan, state and national director of AmeriCorps, took $5 million off the total amount of a grant to create a Public Health AmeriCorps the day before the initiative, co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was to be announced.
According to emails, neither Nijhawan nor AmeriCorps’ press secretary, Natasha Dabrowski, bothered to inform the public about the change because they already had provided embargoed press releases to The New York Times and other news outlets.
An email from Dabrowski last April 5 about the $5 million discrepancy says: “I’ve already given the embargoed press release to CDC and several reporters, including The New York Times, as mentioned in the email thread.”
She adds: “Because $65 million is still above the $60 million that we had changed it to per your request this morning, we’ll be factually accurate on all the materials we changed—including the website/release—and keep the $60 million in all those places.”
AmeriCorps’ April 6 press release specifies: “The first-year grants, totaling more than $60 million, will allow Public Health AmeriCorps programs to recruit nearly 3,000 AmeriCorps members.”
Worse, the organization lied about the additional $5 million. It actually was a total of $11.1 million more than the announced $60 million in grants.
AmeriCorps’ Annual Management Report for fiscal year 2022 says that in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “AmeriCorps awarded the first round of public health grants, totaling $71.1 million in support of over 3,000 new AmeriCorps members.”
AmeriCorps’ acting press secretary, Meg Bresnahan, told The Daily Signal on Tuesday that the agency’s grants are amended throughout the year.
“Grants amendment processes are ongoing and happen all year round,” Bresnahan said. “The AmeriCorps Annual Management Report includes the final amount of funding awarded during the fiscal year [and] $71.1 million is the most recent figure for FY22.”
Perhaps the greater scandal involves AmeriCorps’ focusing its entire mission last year on diversity, equity, and inclusion, also known as DEI. Agency leadership ensures that DEI is part of every aspect of grant-making, the workplace, and recruitment.
Those who don’t believe in DEI principles won’t be able to celebrate the $1.1 billion in funding received by AmeriCorps, which is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The Annual Management Report for fiscal year 2022 also says AmeriCorps released an Equity Action Plan in April “reinforcing its commitment to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility and embedding it into the fabric of the agency.”
The report continues: “AmeriCorps is dedicated to creating structural and lasting changes in AmeriCorps’ grant-making, workplace, and recruitment of a corps that reflects the diversity and lived experience of the communities they serve.”
The agency clearly is more focused on hiring persons of the right color or gender, or whom it believes have the same pseudo-religious climate change values, rather than choosing the best persons for the jobs.
Here are some of the ridiculous grants given out by AmeriCorps:
- Arizona State University got $1.1 million to increase public health practitioners’ knowledge, attitudes, and perceived readiness to respond to survivors of violence between intimate partners. Did AmeriCorps really believe that doctors didn’t know about such violence, or was this a ploy to indoctrinate more medical professionals with DEI training?
- Houston got $719,930 to provide navigation services and health education in historically underserved and “social vulnerability index (SVI) priority zip codes.” AmeriCorps members will provide health education and increase access to health care and human services. The CDC’s social vulnerability index focuses on: “Racial and ethnic minority status (Hispanic or Latino of any race); Black and African American, Not Hispanic or Latino; American Indian and Alaska Native, Not Hispanic or Latino; Asian, Not Hispanic or Latino; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, Not Hispanic or Latino; Two or More Races, Not Hispanic or Latino; Other Races, Not Hispanic or Latino).” The index says it also focuses on: “Housing type [and] transportation (multi-unit structures, mobile homes, crowding, no vehicle, group quarters).”
- The Health Federation of Philadelphia got $1.15 million for a program in which AmeriCorps members will study disease prevention and mitigation for individuals who “live in historically marginalized communities.”
- Prescott College was awarded $519,443 to hire 18 full-time AmeriCorps members who will provide “health intervention and eviction support” in Pima County, Arizona, and increase “health equity” through social-emotional learning interventions in Yavapai County, Arizona. To date, Heritage’s Oversight Project hasn’t been able to find any information regarding how to increase health equity through social-emotional learning.
The George H.W. Bush administration formed the first version of AmeriCorps with good intentions. Previously known as the Commission on National and Community Service, the agency aimed to encourage volunteering in the United States, focusing on service-learning programs for school-age youth, higher education service programs, and a youth corps.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton created the Corporation for National and Community Service, which included an AmeriCorps program.
In 2002, President George W. Bush created the USA Freedom Corps just months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to encourage voluntary participation in homeland security.
The Trump administration rebranded the program as AmeriCorps in 2020. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, this federal agency has fallen to the woke Left.
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.