A Letter from the Board Chair, National Service Learning Partnership
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December 11, 2003
                                    FOR 2004, BUT THE TIME HAS LONG PAST FOR GREATER FUNDING 
                                    Dear Partnership members,
                                    On November 25, 2003, a House and Senate Appropriations Conference 
                                    Committee approved $43 million to fund Learn and Serve America for fiscal 
                                    year 2004. As you may know, Learn and Serve America, a program within 
                                    the Corporation for National and Community Service is the only designated 
                                    federal source of service-learning funds. This funding amount forms 
                                    part of a larger allocation of $584 million to the Corporation that 
                                    primarily supports AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, the Corporation's two other 
                                    programs. The Conference report now goes to the House and Senate floors 
                                    for consideration and full passage.
                                    While we are pleased that lawmakers agreed to $584 million for the 
                                    Corporation - almost $182 million more than for fiscal year 2003 - we are 
                                    greatly displeased that the $43 million allocation to Learn and Serve 
                                    America is the exact same level of annual funding for more than a decade. 
                                    When you factor in inflation at 3% per year, 11 successive years of 
                                    flat funding means that $43 million in 1993 is actually equivalent to only 
                                    $30.7 million today. That's 28% less than in 1993. This significant 
                                    decrease in funding has occurred during a period when the quality and 
                                    quantity of service-learning practice and research have increased 
                                    dramatically, and the need for active and engaged students has become ever more 
                                    Our situation, however, is not bleak. During our 2003 advocacy 
                                    campaign, the Partnership and its Advocacy Committee engaged over 240 of our 
                                    members to work the legislative machinery on Capitol Hill and the 
                                    Executive Branch.  Collectively, we launched a combination of letters, 
                                    personal visits, phone calls, e-mails, and formal testimony to 70 members of 
                                    Congress, Congressional Committees, senior staff members, and high 
                                    ranking officials within the Department of Education, the Corporation for 
                                    National and Community Service, and White House officials. Working with 
                                    and on behalf of Partnership members, we established a bona fide 
                                    presence within the Washington, D.C. power structure. We now have a foundation 
                                    to build on, and an even greater resolve to win more funding for the 
                                    increasing numbers of dedicated service-learning practitioners and 
                                    students across America who are doing so much to strengthen our schools, 
                                    communities and country.
                                    Our work is far from over. The Partnership will have to work harder and 
                                    smarter in 2004 to build an even stronger support base for 
                                    service-learning. Early in the New Year, we'll be sharing with you a 2004 Advocacy 
                                    Action Plan for your comment prior to immediate implementation. We hope 
                                    you will join us in channeling our rightful displeasure and 
                                    dissatisfaction into a productive, more successful 2004 funding campaign.
                                    I thank each of you for your wonderful work in 2003, and I wish you a 
                                    happy holiday season.
                                    Anthony Welch

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