Minnesota has received $36.2 million in AmeriCorps federal funding for more than a dozen community service programs, the second-largest grant amount received by a state for AmeriCorps.
The money, which comes from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency, will fund 14 AmeriCorps programs in the state ranging from student tutoring to natural habitat restoration.
AmeriCorps is a domestic community service program in which members work for 10- to 12-month periods with community groups, nonprofits and public agencies. More than 2,000 AmeriCorps members serve in 77 of Minnesota's 87 counties.
Lisa Winkler, a spokeswoman for ServeMinnesota, which administers the state's AmeriCorps funds, said all Minnesota applicants this year were funded in the competitive portion of the application process, totaling almost $21 million.
CNCS awarded an additional $2.3 million for programs using a population-based formula, up to $11 million to AmeriCorps members for help with tuition and student loans, and $1.8 million for programs that operate in several states and are based in Minnesota.
Winkler said this year's funding is "a testament to how wonderful the programs are that are started right here in Minnesota."
"Not everyone has heard of AmeriCorps in the state," she said. "[We're trying] to make sure people know and understand how many people serve in AmeriCorps and the difference they're making in so many communities."
Winkler said some of the $2.3 million from the population-based formula will fund Recovery Corps, a recently developed program to help people recovering from opioid addiction. That issue was the focus of CNCS's national application process this year.
She said Minnesota has received about $19 million to $20 million from the competitive application process in years past, but that amount has consistently increased each year. Only California received more funding this year.
She said that Minnesota's focus on programs that are "evidence-based" — meaning the programs use methods that have been shown to have an impact — makes the state's AmeriCorps programs successful.
ServeMinnesota recruits for all of the state's AmeriCorps programs, she said, and needs people to "step up and serve."
Gov. Mark Dayton, who appoints ServeMinnesota board members, said in a statement that ServeMinnesota members help to close achievement gaps, prepare low-income students for higher education and protect the environment through AmeriCorps programs.
"These new grants will help ServeMinnesota continue their important work and create even better outcomes for our communities," Dayton said.
Audrey Suker, the CEO of ServeMinnesota, said in a statement that AmeriCorps members "make a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation."
"Dedicating a year to national service is an amazing and rewarding experience and we are proud of this investment in the critical programs serving our state," Suker said.