The University Record, February 11, 2002

Campus AmeriCorps hopeful about Bush plan

By Laurel Thomas Gnagey

Following through on a promise made in his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush has proposed a 56.4 percent increase in the budget for AmeriCorps, the federal program that offers students college tuition assistance in exchange for community service. His plan is being met with great enthusiasm by the staff members who run the volunteer program at U-M.

The increase is part of an overall plan Mr. Bush has for recruiting 200,000 more volunteers to “rebuild” the nation’s communities. He has challenged AmeriCorps to come up with 25,000 more volunteers in 2003. New recruits would be used to attract and manage additional volunteers to work with nonprofit organizations.

Marian Krzyzowski, director of the Business and Industrial Assistance Division in the Business School, says the president’s budget increase, if approved, would help the campus AmeriCorps’ effort to quadruple the number of students in the program next year. He says even before Bush’s announcement, plans were under way to grow the University’s program from 25 to 100 students. “This fits right into our plan and we are very pleased, says Krzyzowski. “There is great potential here for much more involvement in the city [of Detroit].”

Currently, the program involves graduate students from business, architecture and urban planning, public health and social work, as well as undergraduates entering education. Krzyzowski says the expansion would allow more undergraduates to become involved in the program.

AmeriCorps students work anywhere from 300 to 1,700 hours for which they are awarded a lump sum education award, plus an hourly rate of $5 for a living allowance. Some of the U-M departments help supplement the federal funding, particularly for those students who spend a summer working on a project. Krzyzowski says at this point the federal funding pays primarily for the students, with the majority of administrative costs funded through the University. He is anxious to see if the Bush plan permits some of the money to be used for administration of the program, which will allow for more recruitment efforts and projects.