Newsletter – June 2010

Governor Schwarzenegger Launches First-in-the-Nation Disaster Corps

Photo of Governor Schwarzenegger speaking at a podiumOn June 25, Governor Schwarzenegger launched the first-in-the-nation Disaster Corps to professionalize, standardize and coordinate highly trained disaster volunteers statewide. Disaster Corps volunteers will be registered by their local government organization under the Disaster Service Worker Volunteer Program and will meet Disaster Corps training, typing, certification and security screening guidelines.

“California is always leading the way and now we are the first state in the nation to integrate volunteers into our state emergency plan,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Volunteers are an incredible resource, and no state has more giving, more passionate or more dedicated volunteers than California. Together, we will take volunteerism to a whole new level and make California better prepared and better equipped than ever before, for any emergency.”

In the aftermath of the 2007 Southern California Wildfires and Cosco Busan Oil Spill, thousands of disaster volunteers poured into affected areas to assist with evacuations, sheltering, clean-up and a host of other activities supporting response operations. Governor Schwarzenegger recognized the need to more effectively integrate and coordinate disaster volunteer efforts in all phases of emergency management, from disaster preparedness to disaster response and recovery. In February 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Karen Baker to serve as the state’s and also the nation’s first secretary of Service and Volunteering and charged her office with the development of the Disaster Corps.

“The Disaster Corps program represents an amazing collaboration between state and local government, the nonprofit and private sectors and volunteers themselves,” said Secretary Karen Baker. “These volunteers represent a highly-trained resource that will ensure our first responders are supported and our communities are better prepared.”

The Disaster Corps initiative was built collaboratively from the ground up through public-private partnerships and with a wide range of subject matter experts including representatives from all levels of government, local emergency managers, state agency volunteer coordinators and leaders in non-governmental volunteer programs.

As a first phase of the program, CaliforniaVolunteers awarded Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Francisco counties a total of $1.15 million in federal homeland security funding to support Department of Justice/FBI background checks and First Aid/CPR training for the first 1,000 members and a volunteer coordinator in each of the five counties.

“Government can’t do it all by itself,” said California Emergency Management Agency Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen. “Being ready for the next disaster, and ensuring an effective response, includes taking advantage of the many contributions and passion of citizens who care deeply about their communities.”

In addition to the Disaster Corps, CaliforniaVolunteers launched the Disaster Volunteer Resource Inventory, a statewide web-based IT tool to coordinate and support public, private and nonprofit volunteer programs. CaliforniaVolunteers will provide secure access to the system, free of charge to Disaster Corps programs, non-governmental organizations active in disaster and local and state emergency managers. The Disaster Volunteer Resource Inventory will maintain individual contact information, as well as training history, deployment history and availability, credentialing information, language skills and other pertinent information.

To support the development of the Disaster Corps and Disaster Volunteer Resource Inventory, Deloitte LLP provided $750,000 in pro-bono consulting services, including project management, stakeholder analysis and communications support. The Home Depot Foundation has also committed nearly $60,000 for disaster-related supplies to equip Disaster Corps volunteers.

CaliforniaVolunteers Announces 2010-11 AmeriCorps Portfolio

AmeriCorps logoCaliforniaVolunteers announced its 2010-11 AmeriCorps portfolio, totaling $29.1 million in grants to 56 AmeriCorps programs and 15 planning grants supporting more than 4,000 members addressing critical environmental, educational, public safety or other human needs.

The 2010-11 AmeriCorps portfolio consists of programs funded through a national grant competition and those funded through an allotment each state receives based upon population. An astounding 24 California AmeriCorps programs were successful in the national competition, bringing in more than $15.9 million in AmeriCorps funds to the state. Fifteen of the 24 programs were new AmeriCorps programs. CaliforniaVolunteers received an additional $12.1 million from the Corporation for National and Community Service based upon the state’s population, helping support 31 AmeriCorps programs.

“AmeriCorps members and programs are an invaluable asset in tackling the increased challenges our communities face during these tough economic times,” said Secretary of Service and Volunteering, Karen Baker. “We applaud all of California’s AmeriCorps programs for their dedicated service. For many of these organizations, this is the extra boost they need to continue making a valuable impact in the communities they serve and we cannot express our gratitude enough for their tireless dedication to making their communities a better place.”

AmeriCorps is a national service program that engages Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service to meet critical needs in education, the environment, public safety, and other areas. Its members serve in thousands of nonprofit and faith-based organizations in rural and urban communities throughout the nation. Among other activities, AmeriCorps members tutor and mentor youth, build affordable housing, teach computer skills, clean parks and streams, run after school programs, help communities respond to disasters, and recruit and train volunteers. Since 1994, more than 80,000 Californians have served in AmeriCorps, contributing more than 90 million hours to various communities across the state.

To find an AmeriCorps or other national service program in your area, visit the national service directory.

Governor Schwarzenegger Launches Operation Welcome Home for California’s Veterans

CalVet Corps logoBuilding on his commitment to strengthen employment, economic opportunities and services for California’s veterans and their families, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger launched Operation Welcome Home, a first-in-the-nation, statewide campaign to connect every returning veteran with the services they need to transition successfully from the battlefront to the home front.

“Operation Welcome Home is bringing state, federal and local governments, nonprofits, volunteers and the private sector together to create a one-stop shop for our men and women in uniform when they return home,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “All across our state, we are demonstrating our commitment to our veterans. We are doing more than thanking them, we are showing them our gratitude through our actions.”

As part of Operation Welcome Home, the Governor introduced the California Veteran Corps (CalVet Corps). The CalVet Corps is comprised of 325 veterans hired by the Employment Development Department in partnership with the California Department of Veteran Affairs, using $20 million in funding. Building on these interagency partnerships, 80 part-time AmeriCorps members will be supported by CaliforniaVolunteers through a $560,000 AmeriCorps grant which is scheduled to begin in July 2010. The CalVet Corps will be responsible for directly contacting each of California’s returning veterans at least three times in the first six months of separation from active duty. The CalVet Corps members will coordinate access to career services, mental health or substance abuse treatment and assistance with applying for state and federal veterans benefits.

Please visit the Governor’s Web site to view this press release in its entirety.

New Federal Report Shows Greatest Spike in Volunteers Since 2003

Volunteering in America logoDespite difficult economic times, the number of Americans volunteering in their communities jumped by 1.6 million last year, the largest increase in six years, according to a report recently released by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The Corporation’s annual Volunteering in America report found that 63.4 million Americans volunteered through a formal organization last year, giving more than 8.1 billion hours of volunteer service worth an estimated $169 billion.

Americans have responded to tough economic times by volunteering in big numbers,” said Patrick Corvington, the Corporation’s CEO. “What we’re seeing is the depth of the American spirit and generosity at its best. People are turning toward problems, working with their neighbors to find solutions to real problems, from homelessness to the dropout crisis.”

Previous research would suggest that volunteering should drop during an economic downturn, because volunteer rates are higher among job-holders and homeowners. Instead, volunteering increased at the fastest rate in six years, and the volunteer rate went up among all race and ethnic groups.

The Volunteering in America research is produced by the Corporation as part of its efforts to expand the reach and impact of America’s volunteers. The research is the most comprehensive data on volunteering ever assembled, and it includes a volunteer data profile for all states, including the District of Columbia, and hundreds of cities, including data on volunteer rates, rankings, area-specific trends, and analysis.

To view California’s volunteer information, please visit

The report is a tool used by elected officials and nonprofit leaders to develop strategies to mobilize more Americans in service to address local needs and problems. The complete report can be accessed at

CaliforniaVolunteers Convenes Bi-Partisan Cities of Service Coalition to Discuss Service and Volunteering

Cities of Service logoCaliforniaVolunteers, in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies, convened California mayors from the Cities of Service coalition, a bi-partisan coalition of mayors from large and small cities across the nation who have pledged to work together to expand high-impact service and volunteering. The California Cities of Service mayors convened to learn and share innovative strategies to harness the power of volunteers to help address critical community needs. The meeting included a guided exercise on developing a comprehensive high-impact city service plan, a panel on cultivating business partnerships and opportunities for mayors and city staff to network and share best practices.

Currently, 18 California cities are members of the Cities of Service coalition and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Los Angeles Mayor Antonito Villaraigosa are founding members. Their respective cities were selected to receive a Cities of Service Leadership Grant funded by the Rockefeller Foundation in January 2010. The grant provides resources to hire a Chief Service Officer dedicated to developing and implementing a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and leverage volunteers to address the city’s greatest needs.

“California is at the forefront of the service movement and we are so proud of the 18 California cities that have accepted the challenge to find innovative ways to leverage service as a strategy for addressing critical community needs,” said Secretary of Service and Volunteering, Karen Baker. “The economic downturn has forced the nonprofit sector to do more with less, and by cities stepping forward to engage volunteers in pressing issues, we will help tackle some very difficult challenges in education, healthcare, poverty and other areas. We invite additional cities to join the service movement and stand with us.”

Visit to view this press release in its entirety.

Assembly Bill 127

CaliforniaVolunteers logoAB 127, authored by Assemblymember Jeffries, would codify the Office of CaliforniaVolunteers within the Office of the Governor. This bill has passed the Assembly and has been sent to the suspense file in the Senate Appropriations Committee. An additional hearing is anticipated in August 2010.

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