The Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps has a history of success and accomplishments in the region.
- One of the largest full time AmeriCorps programs in Pennsylvania
- 90 participating nonprofit sponsors
- 100 full-time/15 part-time/ 30-300 hour Education Award Only members
- Addresses 3 Americorps priority areas (Education, Environment, and Human Needs)
- Members have ranged in age from 17 – 77
- At least 63% of the members have a bachelors degree or higher
- At Least 92% have some college credits
- Program year typically runs from August to August
- Full-time members who successfully complete 1700 hours earn an education award of $5,645
- Part-time members who successfully complete 900 hours earn an education award of $2,822
- Persons 55+ can transfer their education award to a child or grandchild
- Managed by a team of 4 staff members: Program manager, 2 regional coordinators, administrative assistant
- Serving rural and urban locations
- Serving 16 counties in Southwest/South-central PA covering 15,000 sq. miles
- Spanning 4 congressional districts: 3, 9, 5, 12
- In addition to regular placement activities members serve in community service projects throughout the region
- Program recognized nationally for research contributions in the area of childhood lead poisoning
- Program known internationally for children’s text published “My Mommy’s in Prison”
- PMSC Stream Team winner of the Governor’s Excellence Award for Environmental Education
- Conservation Organization Of The Year Award – 200
- Over 30,000 hours of community volunteer service have been generated through the PMSC
The AmeriCorps program was created in the spirit of community service that has been a traditional and integral part of our American history. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt organized the Civilian Conservation Corps. Following WWII, the GI Bill was passed, and service was tied to educational benefits. In 1960, President John F. Kennedy sought to relieve international distress and poverty through the Peace Corps. And in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson was instrumental in the creation of the Vista program as a Domestic Peace Corps.
Experimental youth, and senior service programs sprang up all over the country during the 1970’s and 1980’s, depending primarily on the political climate. With this movement, the private and nonprofit sectors began to play a substantial role in both advocacy and the development of volunteer service.
In 1990 President G.H. Bush introduced the National And Community Service Act as a way of formalizing citizen service. In September of 1993, as a means to further consolidate and bring collaboration to the many service programs that existed, President William Clinton, with strong bipartisan support, signed the National and Community Service Trust Act into law. This law created a national headquarters that would administer the funds set aside to support community service programs including Vistas, The Senior Corps, Learn and Serve, and AmeriCorps.
In the early part of 1994, a community meeting was held to propose the submission of a grant that would allow this rural region of Pennsylvania to support a branch of AmeriCorps. As a result of that initial meeting, the Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8 became the administering agency for a regional AmeriCorps initiative.
The Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps AmeriCorps program was created in 1994, and began with a 40 member Corps that would be partnered with nonprofit and governmental organizations across 10 Pennsylvania counties, (Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Somerset, and Westmoreland.) The Corps was designed to address all four major AmeriCorps initiatives, Education, Human Needs, Public Safety, and Environment.
Today the Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps has grown to 150+ members, covering 16 counties with a statewide environmental initiative.Since its inception, there have been hundreds of students tutored in math and reading, thousands of seniors and families provided with services that would have otherwise gone undone, hundreds of after school and educational activities presented to at-risk youths, hundreds of miles of water tested and cleaned up, thousands of volunteer hours generated, and a unique collaborative effort of community organizations formed.
In 2001, following the tragedies of September 11th, President Bush further consolidated many of the national service programs under the USA Freedom Corps, and added a Citizens Corps that would help with homeland security measures. American citizens were also urged to devote 4,000 hours of service to their country over a lifetime.
Most recently, with the passage of the Edward M Kennedy Act, AmeriCorps will grow once again to “Get Things Done”.