President Bill Clinton began AmeriCorps in 1993 as a sort of domestic Peace Corps, in which young people can serve their country through volunteerism. Those who sign up can choose from dozens of ways to give back, including doing trail building and environmental clean-up. (In college, I volunteered at a soup kitchen, and my supervisor was an Americorps volunteer.) Glenn Beck, who is a global warming denier and a frequent critic of the environmental and labor coalition known as the Apollo Alliance, took aim at AmeriCorps this past week and speculated that the organization could be used to create a private army for Barack Obama. Yes, I'm serious.In the clip, Beck argues that Obama asked for half a trillion dollars for AmeriCorps, putting it on par with the Pentagon in terms of funding. In reality, for fiscal year 2010, the president requested less than two billion dollars for the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps' parent agency, and Congress appropriated $110 million.
How is the money spent? According to AmeriCorps, opportunities include: "tutor and mentor disadvantaged youth, fight illiteracy, improve health services, build affordable housing, teach computer skills, clean parks and streams, manage or operate after-school programs, help communities respond to disasters, and build organizational capacity." Yikes. Sounds like some radical plans there for sure.
And how much are they paid? Members who complete their service earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $4,725 to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans. Part-timers get a share of that reward.
Advertisors are starting to get hip to Beck's outlandish act. Color of Change has organized a boycott of Beck's show, and advertisors like Wal-mart are jumping ship.