Guest Column: Help YouthBuild!
By Dorothy Stoneman
Chairperson, National YouthBuild Coalition
Last week the Congress passed a new Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through April 8th.
This new CR funds YouthBuild at $102.5M in FY’11. This compares to $120M requested in the President’s proposed budget for FY’11, and $120M actually appropriated in FY’10 including both basic and stimulus (ARRA) funding.
Congress and the Administration aim to reach the final deal on the FY’11 budget by April 8th. The final outcome for YouthBuild is still entirely uncertain. As you know, the House eliminated YouthBuild in its budget bill. Thus YouthBuild’s future depends on the Senate leadership and the Administration negotiating with the House leadership for fewer cuts.
Some of you receiving this e-mail update are already very active in our mobilization. If you are not, please consider joining the effort by making three phone calls: one each to your two federal Senators and your House member, informing them that YouthBuild is an outstanding national program that should be expanded, not cut; that it does not constitute waste, fraud, duplication, or abuse; that it is an important public-private partnership preparing young people who need a second chance to become productive citizens through education and employment; that it has a thirty year history of extraordinary success; and that it has a minimum return on investment of $7.80 per dollar spent according to independent research.
You may call your elected officials’ DC offices by calling the central office number: 202-224-3121. Or you may reach their local offices by googling them and finding their local contact info. If you have time to email me to let me know you have made these calls, it would be helpful.
As you know, the House had previously passed HR 1, which cut $100B off the President’s proposed budget for FY’11. It entirely eliminated the YouthBuild program in the US Department of Labor and also eliminated all the national service programs within the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The Senate rejected HR 1. But the Senate also rejected Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s alternative bill which would have met the House half way by cutting $50B off the President’s proposed budget. The Reid alternative would have funded YouthBuild at $102.5M and would have funded most other social programs at basic FY’10 levels (not including stimulus additions).
The final deal for FY’11 will most likely be made in the next three weeks. Then the struggle will move on to the FY’12 budget which funds the year from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012.
All our traditional Republican supporters in the House and Senate who have long recognized YouthBuild as a strong bi-partisan approach to breaking the cycle of poverty through hard work, education, and service, voted for the cuts along Party lines. Now that the Party-line vote is done, we hope that in the coming stage that requires compromise they will again speak up for YouthBuild. All of our traditional Democratic supporters already voted against the House cuts that would eliminate YouthBuild.
We do not know what the final compromise for FY’11 will be. We have no firm assurances about what will happen to YouthBuild. We do know that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) intend to protect YouthBuild as a priority if possible and we know the Administration included YouthBuild in its FY’12 budget with a proposed increase. We do not know who will be in the room for the final compromise deal.
Meanwhile we have, of course, mobilized program leadership, alumni, partners, donors, friends and allies to contact their Senators and House members as well as the Leadership in a variety of ways… petitions, sign-on-letters, visits to their offices in the District and in DC, telephone calls, and visits to program sites. Next week we will have 120 more meetings on Capitol Hill in which young people will tell Hill staffers and elected officials how YouthBuild has made a decisive difference in their lives.
We are making the case for the uniquely effective role that YouthBuild plays as the most comprehensive community-based national program that unites rigorous education, job training, service, and leadership development for the most disadvantaged low-income young people who lack a high school diploma and need a pathway out of poverty that allows them to take responsibility for their lives, families, and communities. We continue to put forward the independent research showing that every dollar spent on every YouthBuild student results in a return on investment (ROI) of at least $7.80 and every dollar spent on a court-involved YouthBuild student results in an ROI of at least $10.90 and up to $43.80 in taxes paid, crimes not committed, dependency overcome. Young people are sending their own stories of transformation which back up the data but are much more inspiring.
We have joined the campaign to SAVE Service, and the SAVE for All campaign which raises the larger issues and fights against one-sided cuts as the way to balance the budget. We must still mobilize for YouthBuild itself, because if we don’t, who will? The well-being of thousands of young people depend on our success.
We remain hopeful that the Senate and the Administration will ward off cuts that would destroy large parts of the non-profit infrastructure that offers services and opportunities to low-income communities to correct some of the injustices created by the current radically unequal distribution of opportunities and resources in our beloved United States.
YouthBuild USA organizes the National YouthBuild Coalition to advocate for the federal YouthBuild program. It does not use any public funds for this purpose and reports all its direct and grassroots lobbying activity to the IRS as required under the laws that limit lobbying by non-profit organizations. There are currently no such laws limiting the lobbying of for-profit corporations.
To contact your local YouthBuild office, call Kerry Knodle at 815-963-6236. Thank you!
From the March 23-29, 2011, issue
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