The federal government for decades now has had various programs in place for people to serve their country outside of military capacity. While theories and minor organizations like these were in place beforehand, such as the Cooperative Education Movement at the University of Cincinnati, the first major federal push to give people jobs in service to their communities was the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC. This organization was brought into being by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and like most of its descendants, the jobs were somewhat short-term, usually 6 to 18 months.
Works Progress Administration
The next organization was the Works Progress Administration, which was brought into being in 1935, serving the purpose of giving and finding employment for needy Americans. Then came the GI Bill – this granted an amount of money and certain privileges to returning American soldiers from World War II.
Senior Corps Was Born
These various national service organizations are not just for the young, however. In 1960 there were several programs geared for older and retired Americans, to show that seniors could have an impact in national service as well. The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), the Foster Grandparent Program, and the Senior Companion Program are a few of these. Now collectively known as the Senior Corps, these were established in order to show how well the model of national service works, not to mention working to convince many older Americans that there was something they could do as well.
Other Corps Volunteer Groups
Various other Corps came about during the next decade, including the Peace Corps, the Job Corps, and the Urban corps. The Peace Corps is slightly different, in that much of its work has been focused on countries allied with and supported by the United States. The first non-federal youth corps, in this case established at the state level, is the California Conservation Corps, put together by California governor Jerry Brown in 1976. Another important service organization formed around this time is Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), formed by President Johnson in 1964.
Private Volunteer Groups
Government has not been the only force in creating various service corps nationally, though. During the 1980s, grassroots organizations began to spring up over the country. These include the Campus Outreach Opportunity League and Campus Compact, founded in 1984 and 1985 respectively, which served to activate college students. Two more organizations founded in 1985 that allow youth to serve include the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps and Youth Service America.
In September of 1993, President Clinton signed a bill that created AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service. VISTA and the National Civilian Community Corps are rolled into AmeriCorps. In September of the next year, Americorps’ first class of 20,000 is deployed to more than 1000 communities countrywide.
USA Freedom Corps
In January of 2002, President George W. Bush forms the white house office called the USA Freedom Corps. He pledges also during the speech announcing its creation to expand AmeriCorps by another 50%. He made good on his promise by two years later, when the organization’s funding was increased to allow 75,000 members. By the end of 2004, more than 300,000 people had served in Americorps.