President Joe Biden has decided to nominate the leader of the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance program to oversee AmeriCorps, a federal agency that runs the largest service-learning program in the country.
Currently, nominee-to-be Michael Smith is executive director of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and the director of youth opportunity programs at the Obama Foundation. The alliance leads a national “call to action” to create and support safe communities for young men of color, an initiative Smith helped design and launch. During the Obama administration, he also served as a special assistant to the president, where he managed the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and a related, interagency White House task force.
In a statement, the acting CEO of AmeriCorps, Mal Coles, praised Smith’s long record of service, saying it will “undoubtedly help us expand access to and interest in national service and community volunteerism — both which can drive change related to challenges communities around the country are facing, like COVID recovery, economic justice, racial equity, disaster mitigation, conservation efforts and so much more.”
Before working at the Obama White House, Smith directed the Social Innovation Fund, served as senior vice president of social innovation at the Case Foundation and helped bridge the “digital divide.”
AmeriCorps seeks to bring people together to tackle pressing challenges through national service and volunteering. AmeriCorps members and volunteers serve directly with community-based organizations to improve the lives of residents.
Biden’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year calls for $1.2 billion for AmeriCorps, an increase of $89.2 million over the current amount, Coles said. The AmeriCorps budget would place an emphasis on advancing racial and economic equity, prioritize underserved communities and expand the use of evidence-based approaches to drive national service.
AmeriCorps used to be one of several programs under the independent federal agency called the Corporation for National and Community Service. In September of 2020, the entire operation was rebranded under the AmeriCorps brand, including the Foster Grandparents program and the National Civilian Community Corps.