History, Legislation, and Budget



The Corporation for National and Community Service was formed in 1993 as an umbrella organization for numerous already existing federal service programs. The primary three created by the legislation back in 1993 are AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America (a primary work study program), and the Senior Corps. AmeriCorps is made up of Volunteers in Service to America, an organization whose roots go back to the Johnson administration; the National Civilian Community Corps; and the demonstration program which had been established in 1990. The Learn and Serve America organization is a primary service learning organization.

When Did Senior Corps Begin?

The Senior Corps has been around for a long time. It’s primarily formed of three organizations, all established by a bill in 1973 referred to as the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973. These main three are different quite drastically, aside from the fact that they are organizations designed specifically for older Americans to serve. These are the Foster Grandparents, RSVP, and Senior Companions organizations. They all have unique histories, but they all came from the idea that there were not enough opportunities for older Americans to volunteer and serve their communities.

Foster Grandparent Program Beginnings

Foster Grandparents is the first of the three organizations that make up the Senior Corps. It began in late August, 1965, as a way for lower-income older Americans to service their community. The organization itself is basically right what it says on the tin. The idea is that older Americans can serve as grandparents to low-income young people, much in the same way Big Brothers and Big Sisters works. Foster Grandparents serves to let older Americans (the only qualifications are that you be older than 55 and have a desire to help kids) spend time with, tutor, and mentor younger Americans. It’s an easy way for older Americans to get involved in their community.

Retired Senior Volunteer Program Beginnings

RSVP stands for Retired Senior Volunteer Program. The seeds for this organization were sown in the Older Americans Act of 1965, whose passage really spurred on the idea of senior volunteer service. A small organization called the Community Service Society of New York was one of the first organizations to come from it. Their success led to the creation of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program as part of an amendment to the original Older Americans Act in 1969. RSVP is a sort of umbrella organization for numerous service project nationwide for seniors, and almost anything could be done through the group.

Senior Companion Program Beginnings

Senior Companions is the youngest of the three programs. It first came about in 1968 as part of the Department of Health, Education, and Wellness’ Administration on Aging. Richard Nixon expanded its strength in 1973. It was brought about as a way for lower income older Americans who wanted a way to serve and provide person to person services to work. The idea behind the Senior Companions Program is for seniors who are able and active to stay with a frail person to help the family and caregivers of that person, to help them maintain their independence using their own.



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