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AmeriCorps funding dries up

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At the end of August, AmeriCorps funding ends on the Olympic Peninsula. That means the loss of 30 federally funded positions at schools and nonprofits throughout the area.

 

The application for further funding was unsuccessful, said Kyle Cronk, AmeriCorps director for the peninsula.

 

In the past year, the program brought in about $436,000 to provide young people with a public service job. That includes Dannon Cox and Kelsey Way, who have been splitting their time between Sequim Middle School and the Sequim Boys & Girls Club.

 

Middle School Principal Brian Jones said the loss of the two was “a shock.”

 

Jones said that Cox and Way already were part of the budget for the 2013-2014 school year; both were expected to serve full-time at the school.

 

The two have been very valuable, he said, bringing drive and special skills to the school.

 

He said the two had “tutored and mentored our neediest children. They made positive contributions to our students.”

 

Jones said the failure to find funding was due in part to the ongoing federal budget “sequestration.”

 

“It’s such a disappointment our government can’t get its act together to fund this,” he said. “More than 50 percent of our students are at or below poverty level,” he noted.

 


Compliance issues

Cronk said a recent compliance issue also may have contributed to the cut. He said the issues, which concerned the timeliness of background checks, have long been corrected. He added that as federal dollars have declined, the AmeriCorps staff in Olympia has been forced to decide where to best make the cuts. They may have taken into consideration those compliance issues, he said.

 

Representatives with the Washington Service Corps, which oversees the program, were unavailable for comment.

 

Cronk said this year he and others involved in AmeriCorps on the peninsula will “regroup,” bringing in new stakeholders in order to create the best application possible.

 

“We’ll apply again next year,” he said.

 

AmeriCorps is important to the peninsula, he said. “There are too many schools, too many organizations, that rely on it.”

 

In recent years, AmeriCorps has engaged more than 80,000 Americans in service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies and community and faith-based groups across the U.S.

 

Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.
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