WASHINGTON, USA – AmeriCorps, the federal agency for service and volunteering, announced more than $23.6 million in funding to support senior volunteer service. The AmeriCorps Seniors grants will both strengthen existing programs and establish new areas of service in more than 150 communities across the nation for the AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP program.
The funding announced will support an estimated 51,300 AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers at RSVP programs in 45 states, leveraging the knowledge and experience of thousands of older Americans across the country. A complete list of organizations funded in the FY2021 RSVP Competition can be found here.
“Harnessing the experience, passion, and leadership of Americans age 55 and older, AmeriCorps Seniors proves that it is never too late to make a difference,” said Deborah Cox-Roush, director of AmeriCorps Seniors. “As our nation faces the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP grantees are responding to their communities’ needs in creative and impactful ways. The grants announced today will ensure that older Americans have the resources and opportunities to serve for years to come.”
AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers funded through these grants will tackle some of our nation’s most pressing issues by putting their lifetime of skills and talents to use through volunteer service, while developing new ones. Service activities for RSVP projects will include digital mentorship and tutoring, elder care and companion services, as well as grocery delivery for elderly and immunocompromised neighbors. These projects are a small sample of RSVP’s volunteer activities, which include establishing neighborhood watches, connecting veterans to resources, and aiding victims of natural disasters.
This year’s grant competition prioritized critical national issues such as advancing racial equity and removing structural racial inequities, as well as providing aid to communities throughout the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grantees from counties and municipalities previously unserved by RSVP also received priority consideration in the competition.
Throughout the challenges of 2020, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers persisted, supporting communities as they respond and recover from the impact of COVID-19. These dedicated volunteers have helped combat food insecurity, helped students transition to online schooling, connected veterans to jobs and benefits, and responded to the community need created by the pandemic. AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers continue to respond creatively to the challenges presented by COVID-19, adapting their service models to better serve their communities while staying safe. These new COVID-safe service initiatives include sewing masks for first responders, making daily wellness calls to homebound senior citizens, and conducting contact tracing.
Today, AmeriCorps Seniors engages approximately 195,000 older Americans in service at 29,800 locations across the United States and territories through its Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion, and RSVP programs. Established in 1971, RSVP engages Americans age 55 and older in service, responding to our nation’s most pressing challenges.
AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers stay healthy and active through service, improving their own lives as they improve the lives of others. A growing body of research affirms the numerous mental and physical health benefits of volunteerism, including lower mortality rates, decreased rates of depression, and increased strength and energy. Findings from a recent agency-sponsored study show that AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serving with the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs report feeling less depressed and isolated, and experience stable or improved health scores.