$366,748 Awarded to Support BEST Volunteers in Florida

TALLAHASSEE  –  Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman today announced $366,748 in funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service, to be subgranted through a new BEST Volunteers program. BEST, which stands for Build-Engage-Sustain-Transform, will increase opportunities for skill-based volunteers to serve in Florida’s communities.

The BEST Volunteers’ program funding will enable Volunteer Florida to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to recruit, manage and support skill-based volunteers — including veterans and military families, unemployed and under-employed individuals and boomers – through a series of comprehensive trainings and mini-grants. The program will utilize the power of volunteerism to strengthen nonprofits’ capacity; help skill-based volunteers to utilize existing talents and garner new skills, which could also be a pathway to employment; and meet critical community needs.

Funding for BEST Volunteers is provided as part of CNCS’ Volunteer Generation Fund, which is designed to focus upon the need to recruit, manage, and retain more volunteers to address pressing social challenges.

“Citizen service is an essential part of the solution to many of the challenges facing our communities,” said CEO Chester Spellman. “This grant will allow nonprofits and volunteer organizations to be ready to engage all who answer the call to serve. Volunteers are crucial to strengthening the nation’s safety net and providing vital services to our communities.”

Volunteer Florida’s BEST Volunteers program will build on the successes of its BEST Neighborhoods program, which was funded by CNCS from 2010-2013. Now in the midst of its third and final year, BEST Neighborhoods has generated 40,000 volunteers (200% of goal), including 18,574 first-time volunteers. The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) will be available in October for organizations interested in applying for a BEST Volunteers grant through Volunteer Florida. To receive funding announcements and other important updates about Volunteer Florida, potential applicants are encouraged to sign up for the Volunteer Florida newsletter at: http://www.volunteerflorida.org/news/.

Florida was one of 17 states to receive a Volunteer Generation Fund grant. Totaling approximately $4 million in federal funding, these investments help strengthen volunteer recruitment and retention, expand the nation’s volunteer pool, and create a sustainable infrastructure of volunteer connector organizations to increase the impact of volunteers in solving local problems.

Volunteers provide enormous social and economic benefit to our communities, state and nation. Last year, 3.4 million Floridians volunteered, which is valued at $10 billion (www.volunteeringinamerica.gov).

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Volunteer Florida, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, was established in 1994 by the Florida Legislature to administer grants under the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. The Commission grants funds to Florida AmeriCorps and National Service programs; coordinates volunteers and donations in a disaster; and inspires all Floridians to serve their communities. For more information, visit: www.volunteerflorida.org.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.