Commissioners of Volunteer Maine, Maine’s Commission for Community Service, voted to raise the minimum stipend for AmeriCorps members serving full-time in Maine to $20,000. The increase received unanimous support at the February board business meeting.

The vote builds on and reinforces the work of federal agency AmeriCorps to increase the national minimum allowance for anyone who completes 1,700 hours to $16,502. The stipend, also known as a living allowance, allows individuals to devote their full time to serving in programs that address COVID-19 response, energy conservation, climate impacts, education, youth development and economic development. The additional increase in Maine is made possible by American Rescue Plan Act funds granted to the Commission. The new minimum living allowance will take effect July 1, at the start of the 2022-23 AmeriCorps program year.

The increase in the living allowance in Maine is part of a larger ongoing effort to reduce barriers to service. Commissioners also increased the per full-time member funds provided to recipient organizations to $26,000 per 1,700 hours of service to support the new minimum living allowance and related member insurances. AmeriCorps is a cost-shared program that provides federal funding for additional human resources (AmeriCorps members) while community agencies provide personnel and other items necessary to carry out service activities.

“The purpose of the changes is to return AmeriCorps to its original purpose of making the service an option for everyone who is eligible, regardless of economic means,” said Volunteer Maine Executive Director Maryalice Crofton. “Maine communities need the time, talent, and passion of residents from all walks of life to meet local needs through AmeriCorps service programs. And AmeriCorps opportunities for skills development, career exploration, and funds for post-secondary education should be available to anyone willing to dedicate a year to the effort.

“The commissioners’ decision to increase stipends for AmeriCorps members is welcome,” said David Cote, director of the Van Buren Resiliency Project, which sponsors the AmeriCorps Five to Ninety-Five program. “I have always found AmeriCorps members deeply committed to sharing their considerable talents in dedicating themselves to eradicating poverty and improving the lives of seniors, children and families. Now, with this moderate boost, the opportunity to get involved in making a solid and positive difference in the quality of life of a community will be offered to a greater number of gifted people.

In addition to the increased living allowance, AmeriCorps members are also eligible to earn additional benefits while serving. They include student loan forbearance, health coverage, and child care (if needed). Upon successful completion of their term, members receive an AmeriCorps Education Award. This scholarship can be used to repay qualified student loans or to fund college, graduate, or professional studies at eligible institutions.

More information about AmeriCorps service in Maine can be found at https://volunteermaine.gov/serve-in-maine/americorps.