April 6, 2009

In the News: Volunteering Gets Big Boost at Home

If you are a recent college grad looking for a job, let me ask you this: Are you freaking out about your student loans? Are you depressed by the lack of job prospects in the current economy?

One solution might be to change your perspective.

Instead of looking for a six-figure job, consider a change in position: Become a volunteer with AmeriCorps. Created by President Clinton in 1993, AmeriCorps is the domestic version of the Peace Corps, which provides federal funding to nonprofit organizations that want to hire volunteers.  President Obama is about to sign a bill that will triple national funding of AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps volunteers work full-time for a 10- to 12-month period, and receive a basic living expense stipend of $11,400. Some placements supplement these governmental funds with organizational dollars. While volunteering, you can defer your student loans — a big plus for grads struggling with the college debt.

When you graduate from your AmeriCorps job, you will receive an educational award of $5,350 (as of October 1, up from $4,725) to apply to your student loans. Or, if you want to take a break from your studies to volunteer, you can apply your award toward future educational costs.

SPECIAL NOTE – JobMonkey has launched a volunteer job board where you can find a wide variety of opportunities – in the U.S. and abroad. From Christian missionaries to construction. Don’t miss it! Use the Keyword search box to find exactly what you’re after.

The bill will also create summer employment opportunities, starting in 2010, for high school students. Young volunteers will earn a $500 grant toward college in exchange for their summer service. If you’re a retiree looking to get involved with AmeriCorps, the government will allow you to transfer your educational award to your child or grandchild.

To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit the organization’s website. And if you want to combine a little adventure with your service, check out JobMonkey’s section on overseas volunteering opportunities.

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