While some of us watch detached from the budget conversations in Congress and in the political world, there is a great program that is on the chopping block…one that heavily supports a United Methodist ministry that my OK colleagues are passionate about: Project Transformation.
What is Project Transformation?
For the last 10 years, Project Transformation has been transforming lives of low-income children, college students, and churches across Oklahoma. This unique collaboration of churches, individuals, local foundations, corporations, and even government entities has made a tremendous impact in the communities they serve and has transformed many of the churches that host the program. It has led to higher reading scores, better behavior, and overall growth for the elementary students that participate. It has given college students who lead the program a chance to grow as leaders in our society and to connect with those who have deep needs. And it has helped churches who are in difficult neighborhoods connect with God’s mission that is all around them. Furthermore, it connects successful churches with those who are struggling and suburban churches with churches in the central parts of the city. Put simply, it is amazing program that is changing lives every day.
In 2011, we have planned sites in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Bartlesville, and, for the first time, in Muskogee. With the addition of a new city, even more young people will be given greater opportunities to succeed in school, and will be able to connect to churches near them.
Why is this program threatened by the Empire?
Unfortunately, all that is at risk for this summer thanks to a budget resolution in the US House of Representatives. That resolution is to fund many aspects of the federal government for 2011 and it unfortunately shows a $0 budget amount for AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is a federal program that connects college students with places in need and gives those students an educational stipend for their service to the community. AmeriCorps not only provides all of the college students who help run Project Transformation, they also are our largest funding source by far with a total of $138,000 that also includes funds for our two full-time staff positions. To lose AmeriCorps funding most likely means an end to Project Transformation as we know it.
What can we do about it?
We need your voice to be heard with US Representatives who will likely vote on this matter on Thursday, February 17th. We need you to contact your legislator today and ask them to either (a) vote against HR 1 or (b) attempt to amend the bill to reinstate the proposed funding for the Corporation for National Service (the agency that oversees AmeriCorps). Amendments are due today (Tuesday, February 15th) so time is of the essence.
The US Capitol Switchboard phone number is 202-224-3121 and you can find out who your legislator is at www.congress.org. More information about the impact of Project Transformation as well as sample letters, e-mails, or phone calls to your congressman will be available soon.
Call. Pray. Spread the word.
The Corporation for National Service (which oversees Americorps) would cost each household $11.36 if it is kept in the budget for 2012 (it is less now). That’s a tiny sliver of a cost to support low-income families and programs (for reference, Social Security costs each household $7,000).
If you see Americorps as a negative program, remember that it has strong bipartisan support across the political spectrum. Here’s an article about it.
Call. Pray. Spread the word.