Reps. Huffman & DeSaulnier Introduce INSPIRE Act to Expand Community Service Opportunities & Promote Active Citizenship
Washington, D.C.- As Americans head to community town halls in droves and look to give back to their community, Rep. Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Rep. DeSaulnier (D-Concord) took steps today to harness this positive energy and introduced the International & National Service Promotion to Ignite Renewed Engagement (INSPIRE) Act. The INSPIRE Act would take steps to unleash the renewed civic engagement of a half a million dedicated individuals to service at home and across the world, while also mobilizing Americans in becoming more active citizens through expanded service opportunities, especially in rural America.
“Promoting positive change and social renewal through active citizenship has never been more important than it is in today’s toxic political climate,” said Rep. Huffman. “We must do more to encourage both national and international service and bridge the gap that currently exists between individuals wanting to serve and the opportunities to do so. The INSPIRE Act would empower a half a million dedicated, patriotic individuals to teach in our schools, increase health outcomes in underserved areas like the North Coast of California, conserve our natural resources, and build up our communities.”
“America is at its best when its citizens are civically engaged,” said Rep. DeSaulnier. “One of the most common questions that I have been asked by my constituents in this new political climate is: ‘How can we help?’ To which, I often reply ‘get engaged.’ The INSPIRE Act builds upon that energy, providing Americans with greater opportunities to volunteer locally or internationally, creates new opportunities for skilled teachers and health professionals, and serves our neediest communities. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this bill and an additional 500,000 volunteers at home and abroad.”
“The INSPIRE Act is exactly the type of thoughtful legislation we need in our rural areas to strengthen our healthcare delivery system for patients,” said Herrmann Spetzler, CEO, Open Door Community Health Centers, Inc. “By expanding loan benefits and increasing residency programs, Open Door Community Health Centers will be able to attract a highly qualified pool of candidates to our area creating more access for healthcare, a diverse clinical experience, and incentivize providers to remain on the rural North Coast and become active community members.”
"National Peace Corps Association is grateful to Congressmen Huffman and DeSaulnier for their bold vision to support Americans who are currently serving and who wish to serve their country through the Peace Corps and other national service providers,” said Glenn Blumhorst, President and CEO, National Peace Corps Association. “With growing challenges at home and abroad, this legislation reprioritizes national service to provide American and foreign communities with the skilled leaders they need to help tackle some of the world's most pressing problems. Congressman Huffman's bill will responsibly grow the Peace Corps and help it achieve 10,000 Volunteers in the field, reaffirm noncompetitive eligibility for returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) who wish to continue to serve the federal government, provide the financial means for RPCVs to leverage their skills towards higher learning, and make service more accessible to Americans from low-income backgrounds. We thank the Congressmen for their leadership on the Peace Corps and national service, and look forward to working with them and their colleagues to pass this bill and help fuel the next generation of American leadership."
"Congressman Huffman has been a longtime supporter of conservation corps and giving youth a chance to serve their community while improving their own lives in the process,” said Marilee Eckert, CEO, Conservation Corps North Bay. “The INSPIRE Act will help corps engage more young adults in completing needed projects to help our communities and save our planet."
· Establish a goal of 250,000 service volunteers through increased funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which includes programs such as Americorps, VISTA, Senior Corps, Foster Grandparents Program, Conservation Corps, as well as Peace Corps, while also including a set-aside of funding for non-profits in rural areas;
· Expand the education benefit for both CNCS and Peace Corps volunteers to help individuals cover college expenses or pay-off student loans;
· Increase loan repayment options for individuals entering the teaching and health professions, especially in underserved areas and incentivize programs that encourage Native Americans to join the healthcare workforce in their local community; and
· Expand funding for medical residency programs in rural areas.
According to Gallup’s Global Civil Engagement Index, the United States ranks as one of the most giving countries in the world based on volunteerism and charitable contributions. The INSPIRE Act would build on this spirit of giving back.
The INSPIRE Act is supported by National Peace Corps Association; Conservation Corps North Bay; North Coast Clinics Network; Health Alliance of Northern California (HANC); Habitat for Humanity international; National Rural Health Association.