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Biggest AmeriCorps Program Gets Slashed

 

The Corporation for National and Community Service has penalized the largest AmeriCorps program in the nation, but not nearly to the extent recommended by its controversial former inspector general.

CNCS docked the City University of New York (CUNY) $345,700 for this year, reducing its grant from $900,000 to $554,300, according to CNCS spokesman Sandy Scott. That will reduce the number of AmeriCorps members at CUNY from 3,600 last year to 2,300.

The biggest savings for AmeriCorps will be in the reduced amount of educational awards that will be provided.

In a report filed this summer, former CNCS Inspector General Gerald Walpin said CUNY was using AmeriCorps funds to pay for part of its teaching fellows program, which provides fellows jobs at New York City schools and full tuition to pursue master’s degrees.

Teaching Fellow program applicants often didn’t know that AmeriCorps funding was involved, Walpin reported, and few of the fellows did volunteer work. The report also found that CUNY did not operate an AmeriCorps orientation program or have program participants fill out timesheets, as required by CNCS.

Walpin recommended that CNCS attempt to recoup $75 million from CUNY, but CNCS acting CEO Nicola Goren said the agency disagreed with his findings.

“We believe [CUNY] was and is eligible for AmeriCorps funding,” Goren wrote in a letter responding to Walpin’s report, and the corporation “will not act on your draft recommendations regarding the status” of the program. (See “Audit Slams Largest AmeriCorps Program” at www.youthtoday.org.)

Walpin was fired later in the summer by the Obama administration; he has appealed the termination.

CUNY is beginning to address some of the problems laid out in Walpin’s report, Scott said in an e-mail.

“CUNY improved its member timekeeping processes, implemented enhanced monitoring practices and revised its AmeriCorps orientation program,” Scott wrote.

CUNY also has to use the AmeriCorps logo on various pieces of literature and advise teaching fellows that failure to abide by AmeriCorps’ procedures will result in their forfeiting the education grant.

 

 

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