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The National Association of RSVP Directors, Inc.

Washington Update

May 13, 2021

The attention of official Washington is focused on infrastructure. The Biden Administration is seeking Congressional approval for two legislative initiatives called The American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan.  If enacted these will cost the trillions of dollars and would address the nation’s aging infrastructure and invest in human capital.  

 

The infrastructure initiative would address highways, bridges, ports, airports, and transit systems, as well as improve water quality, upgrade the electric grid, and expand access to high-speed broadband. The proposal would also build, preserve, and retrofit millions of homes, commercial buildings, schools, childcare facilities, Veterans’ hospitals, and federal buildings. 

 

The American Families Plan would also provide two free years of community college for millions of Americans and universal access to high-quality, free Pre-K for 3- and 4- year-olds. It would lower college costs for low-and middle- income students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs), increase in Pell Grants and allow DREAMers to access the funding, provide support to students to increase retention and completion; and a $9 billion investment to strengthen teacher pipelines and address shortages, increase the number of teachers of color, and support the growth of teachers.

 

The proposal aims to cap the amount of money a family would pay for comprehensive paid family and medical leave, expand nutrition assistance, including school meal programs and the summer nutrition benefit program, for children and families, and invest $3 billion in maternal health.

 

Finally, the package includes a series of tax provisions intended to lift low-income Americans out of poverty.

 

While there is a bipartisan consensus that we need to invest in “traditional infrastructure” there is much less agreement on how to pay for it (the Administration proposes to raise taxes on the very wealthy and Republicans in the Senate preferring other mechanisms). There seems to be no possibility of a bipartisan agreement on the investment in human capital.

 

When written, these will be very complicated pieces of legislation and will probably take several months to wend their way through Congress.

 

National Service Legislation 

There has been activity on the national service front. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), and 15 of the colleagues from both parties, have announced their intention to reintroduce the CORPS Act (Cultivating Opportunity and Recovery from the Pandemic Through Service). While several of the cosponsors referenced senior corps programs in their published remarks, the bill appears to focus on expanding AmeriCorps state and national programs. The Bill’s seventh finding is the following: “(7) The signature programs of the Corporation or National and Community Service, which are the AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (referred to in this Act as ‘‘VISTA’’), and National Senior Service Corps programs, can and should be expanded to meet current needs.” 

 

The only provisions of law affecting Senior Corps programs are that individuals age 45 or older [to] be enrolled as volunteers to redefine the terms ‘‘low-income person’’ and ‘‘person of low income’’ to mean a person whose income is not more than 400 percent of the poverty line. 

 

According to Sen. Coons’ office, key features of the bill include:

·       Authorizing $8 billion to fund national service positions during a recovery period through fiscal year 2024 to grow programs to meet the scale of critical challenges. These resources could also enable more robust recruitment and awareness campaigns and enable an expansion of the Volunteer Generation Fund. 

·       Envisioning corps members providing a broad range of social services to support our recovery efforts consistent with the programs’ existing activities and expertise, such as: assisting educators in helping students overcome learning loss; expanding services at food banks and delivery services that combat nutrition insecurity; supporting outreach efforts to those experiencing homelessness; and promoting conservation, environmental resiliency, and natural resource preservation. 

·       Ensuring that service provides meaningful opportunity during the organizations that have not previously hosted AmeriCorps participants;

permitting short-term or seasonal terms of service throughout the year;

waiving the match requirement for AmeriCorps State & National programs, and temporarily broadening eligibility criteria for some Senior Corps programs. 

• Prioritizing funding for: entities serving communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and using culturally competent and multilingual strategies; and community-based organizations in rural or high-poverty areas or Tribal communities, especially where they propose to recruit participants to serve in their own communities. 

We will continue to track this bill when Congress considers it. 

 

The Corporation Board

The Administration announced its intention to nominate three people to serve on the Corporation’s board. They are:

Cynthia Hogan who in 1991, joined the staff of United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, serving as counsel, staff director, and then chief counsel until 1996. From 2009 to 2013, Cynthia served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Counsel to the Vice President of the United States of America. In 2014, Hogan joined the National Football League as Senior Vice President of Public Policy. In 2016, she joined Apple as Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs for the Americas. She resigned from Apple in 2020. In April 2020, then candidate Joe Biden asked Hogan to serve on a committee he formed to assist in the selection of a Vice Presidential candidate. 

Catherine McLaughlin who serves as the founding Executive Director of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. Prior to joining the Biden Institute, McLaughlin served as the Executive Director of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics for 22 years, where she oversaw all programming including the JFK Jr Forum, the resident and visiting fellows program, and national conferences for new-elected mayors and members of Congress. She previously served as Tour Manager for the Boston-based band New Kids on the Block and as director of the Office of Alumni Affairs and coordinator in the Press and Public Liaison Offices at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. McLaughlin has her B.A. from Saint Anselm College, where she currently serves as a member of the board of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Shirley Sagawa, an architect of AmeriCorps. Over the last three decades, she has developed innovative social and education policy, authored groundbreaking reports, and advised national organizations and foundations on strategy. She has served as a presidential appointee in both democratic and republican administrations. She served as First Lady Hillary Clinton’s policy assistant and deputy chief of staff and helped lead the start up of the Corporation for National and Community Service for President Bill Clinton. Sagawa is author of three books, including The American Way to Change and The Charismatic Organization. She holds degrees from Harvard Law School, London School of Economics, and Smith College.

The nominations require Senate confirmation.

 

New Strategic Plan

 

The Corporation has begun work on a new Strategic Plan and is seeking comment from the field. NARSVPD will submit comments on the plan.

 

Congressional Testimony

 

NARSVPD is preparing testimony to submit to the House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittees in support of its FY 2022 funding request of $63 million.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The National Association of RSVP Directors, Inc.

March 18, 2021

New Resources, new possibilities.

 

We encourage RSVP programs to be on alert to new resources that you might be able to utilize and take advantage of in order to help your volunteers, your RSVP program and your community.

 

First a summary of the American Rescue Plan:

 

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The law includes $1.9 TRILLION for COVID-relief. We thought you might get questions about the bill and how it affects your volunteers and your communities. This summarizes major provisions of the law.

First, and foremost, the ARP includes an additional $1 billion for National Service programs, including $30 million for Senior Corps programs. The Corporation’s leadership is working to determine how these funds will be allocated.

In addition, the law has $360 billion in aid to states, localities, tribes, and US territories, many of which will improve access to health care and increase economic security for older adults, especially lower-income older adults. These include:

Tax Relief and other payments. Individuals with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 ($112,500 for Head-of-Household and $150,000 married filing jointly) are eligible for the full stimulus payment of $1,400 each and $1,400 for each dependent, including adult dependents. The amount of the stimulus payment phases out to zero for individuals making $80,000 or more ($120,000 for Head-of-Household filers, $160,000 for married couples).

Individuals with Social Security numbers are eligible to receive the payment. 

Individuals who live in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, prisons, and other institutional settings are also eligible to receive the payments. Individuals who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or are undocumented immigrants remain ineligible. 

Recipients of Social Security, SSI, railroad retirees, and those receiving Veterans benefits will receive their payments automatically. Those with no taxable income who do not file tax returns, or who are not in one of the categories listed above, will need to submit a form to the IRS to receive this payment. 

Stimulus payments will not affect eligibility for federal means-tested programs like Medicaid, SSI, and SNAP. Those who did not receive the first or second stimulus payment, but are eligible, can still claim the payment on their 2020 tax return. 

Unemployment Insurance. The law extends the $300/week federal increase to unemployment benefits through September 6, 2021. It also makes the first $10,200 of unemployment insurance received in 2020 non-taxable for households with an adjusted gross income under $150,000. 

Paid Leave. ARP extends the period of time in which employers who voluntarily provide paid leave can receive a payroll tax credit through September 30, 2021. It increases the total amount of wages an employer can claim for credit to $12,000 per employee. This tax credit applies to paid leave that employers offer for employees affected by COVID-19 including getting the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Earned Income Tax Credit. Beginning in tax year 2021, the law increases the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) from $530 to $1,500 for childless workers up to age 64 and raises the income limit for the credit from $16,000 to approximately $21,000. 

Housing Assistance. The law includes increased funding for housing assistance including emergency rental assistance; funding for housing vouchers; tribal and rural assistance; homelessness assistance; and homeowner assistance to prevent foreclosure. 

Utility Assistance. The law includes $4.5 billion to provide energy assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and $500 million for water assistance through the Low- Income Household Drinking Water & Wastewater Emergency Assistance Program. 

Food Assistance. The law extends the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September 30, 2021, funds grants to Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and America Samoa. and provides additional SNAP administrative funds to states. It also includes funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program that acts to improve the health and nutrition of low-income individuals over 60 years old and for nutrition programs under the Older Americans Act. 

Child Tax Credit. The law expands the child tax credit so that qualifying families will receive up to $3,000 per child aged 6-17 or $3,600 per child under 6. 

Medicaid HCBS. The law increases federal Medicaid funding to states to $12.7 billion specifically for home and community-based services (HCBS). 

Nursing Homes. The law includes funding for states to create strike teams for resident and employee safety in nursing facilities and funding to develop and disseminate protocols to prevent or mitigate COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities. 

Increased Vaccination Funding. ARP enhances funding for vaccination efforts, including targeted funding to reach communities of color, tribes, rural areas, and other underserved communities to establish vaccine sites and deploy mobile vaccination units. The law also requires states to cover COVID-19 testing, treatment, vaccines, and vaccine administration for uninsured individuals, including immigrants eligible for emergency Medicaid.

Marketplace Premium Assistance. The law expands and increases premium assistance for individuals purchasing health insurance on the marketplace for the next two years. Under the law, no one will have to pay more than 8.5% of their income on the marketplace. This change particularly helps older adults under age 65 with moderate incomes who pay increased premiums based on age. Additionally, individuals with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level will pay no premiums and anyone who receives unemployment benefits in 2021 will be able to purchase a silver plan on the marketplace with no premium. 

COBRA Premium Assistance. The law provides a new 60-day enrollment period and 100% coverage of premiums for COBRA insurance for individuals who lost or lose employment through September 30, 2021. 

Aging and Disability Services. The law provides increased funding for programs under the Older Americans Act including supportive services, including COVID-19 vaccine outreach and coordination and efforts to address social isolation; services for Native American communities; evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention programs; and, the National Family Caregiver Support Program, The law also includes funding for the Elder Justice Act and grants to public transit systems to improve transportation access for older adults and people with disabilities. 

National Center for Grandfamilies. The law provides funding to create a new technical assistance center for grandfamilies and kinship families to provide training, technical assistance, and resources to government programs, community-based organizations, and Tribes and Tribal organizations that serve grandfamilies and kinship families in which the primary caregiver is an adult age 55 or older or the child has one or more disabilities. 

Native American Language Preservation. The law includes $20 million for Native American elders to preserve Native American languages that have diminished due to COVID-19. 

Community Health Centers & Indian Health Service. ARP includes $7.6 billion in funding for Community Health Centers to respond to COVID-19 and $.3.5 billion for the Indian Health Service. 

Farmworker Equity. The law includes assistance to support disadvantaged farmers with financial training, property issues, training the next generation of farmers, and with land access. It is estimated that one quarter of disadvantaged farmers are Black. 

For additional information see:

Justice in Aging: justiceinaging.org

National Low-Income Housing Coalition: nlihc.org

AARP: aarp.org

National Council on Aging: ncoa.org

 

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Rural Transportation Grant Opportunity

 

The  FTA-funded TA Center, the National Rural Transit Assistance Program (NRTAP) www.nationalrtap.org, just announced their Community Rides Grant Program RFP. Current recipients and subrecipients of FTA’s Formula Grants for Rural Areas (Section 5311) program have the opportunity to apply for these grants of up to $100,000 for projects that develop or strengthen transportation partnerships that improve social determinants of health in rural and tribal communities. The project duration is fifteen (15) months. FTA’s Tribal Transit Program (TTP) grantees are also eligible, as TTP is a set-aside from the Section 5311 Rural program.

 

For detailed information, download the Community Rides Grant Program Request for Proposals (RFP) here. Two webinars will be held to answer questions and provide an overview of the request for proposals (RFP) and the online grant application portal, which will open by April 7, 2021. The webinars will also feature speakers who will share examples of transportation partnerships and lessons learned. 

 

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FCC Launches Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

A household is eligible if one member of the household:

  • Qualifies for the Lifeline program;

  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;

  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;

  • Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or

  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers' existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

The program has been authorized by the FCC, but the start date has not yet been established. The FCC is working to make the benefit available as quickly as possible. Please continue to check the program webpage for updates.

 

www.narsvpd.net

 

 

 

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The National Association of RSVP Directors, Inc.

February 10, 2021

 RSVP Washington Update

 

Washington is beginning to tackle the Biden agenda and at the top of the Administration’s list of priorities is a $1.9 trillion multi-faceted approach to COVID relief that will be considered in the Congress through a process called Budget Reconciliation. 

 

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), “this process allows for expedited consideration of certain tax, spending, and debt limit legislation. In the Senate, reconciliation bills aren’t subject to filibuster and the scope of amendments is limited, giving this process real advantages for enacting controversial budget and tax measures.” 

 

Each Committee of the House and Senate is called upon to meet certain targets determined by their respective Budget Committees. The products of each Committee’s work is then packaged and presented to the Congress for a vote. Importantly, Reconciliation requires only a majority vote (51 votes) to pass the Senate, instead of the 60 votes it usually takes to pass important bills. 

 

Yesterday, the House Education and Labor Committee, which has jurisdiction over Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) programs, met to consider its portion of the Reconciliation bill. Its package includes  the following provision:

 

“Section 2210. Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Service Trust. Provides $1,000,000,000 to the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Service trust to support an increase in AmeriCorps volunteers to respond to communities impacted by COVID-19 such as helping schools safely reopen and tackling the growing hunger crisis. Grants will be prioritized based on grantees located in and recruiting from communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and taking into account the diversity of communities and participants served by such entities, including racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, linguistic, or geographic diversity.” 

 

The breakdown includes: 

 

·      $620M for AmeriCorps State and National 

·      $80M for VISTA, 

·      $148M for the National Service Trust Fund, 

·      $30M for Senior Corps, 

·      $20M for State Service Commissions, 

·      $20M for the Volunteer Generation Fund, and, 

·      $83 million for CNCS Salaries and Expenses and an increase in funding for the Inspector General. 

 

The bill does not indicate how this $30 million would be allocated among the three programs.

 

This funding is to remain in effect through Fiscal Year 2024.

 

The House schedule calls for a vote on the entire $1.9 trillion package by February 22. 

There is a long way to go before enactment, including policy and procedural hurdles, but it is important that Congress recognizes that National Service, including Senior programs, has a role to play in combatting the pandemic.

 

The Senate will soon consider its own version of Budget Reconciliation.

 

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PLEASE RESPOND TO OUR SURVEY

 

We have asked programs to let us know if they have volunteers who are serving in COVID-related activities (see below). We’ve heard from about 20 of you.  If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to answer these questions and send your responses to Gene Sofer, our Washington Representative, at eugenesofer@gmail.com.

 

1. Are any volunteers engaged in COVID-related activities like working at a COVID  vaccine center or clinic? Doing COVID-related education? 

 

2. If so, how many?

 

3. Have any of them been vaccinated?

 

4. Please specify the nature of their service?

 

Again send your response to our Washington Representative, Gene Sofer at eugenesofer@gmail.com

 

 

The National Association of RSVP Directors, Inc.

 

February 4, 2021

 

In Los Angeles, public venues (Dodger Stadium) have been utilized to offer CVD-19 vaccines to groups on a large scale, other venues include hospitals, pharmacies, and senior centers. Supporting these efforts are volunteers. Lots of volunteers.

 

We've heard some RSVP projects have recruited and placed volunteers, we wonder if you've been asked to help and how.

 

Can you take a minute or two to answer a few questions?

 

 

1. Are any volunteers engaged in COVID-related activities like working at a COVID  vaccine center or clinic? Doing COVID-related education? 

 

2. If so, how many?

 

3. Have any of them been vaccinated?

 

4. Please specify the nature of their service?

 

Please send your response to our Washington Representative, Gene Sofer at eugenesofer@gmail.com

 

Thank You