FEMA Corps is a partnership between FEMA and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and AmeriCorps. It was developed to increase the number of civilian volunteers dedicated to serving a community during and after a national disaster.Corps recently swore in 230 young adults in Iowa, making for an initial corps size of 460 members.
An increase in federally declared disasters in 2011 led to the development of FEMA Corps disaster-response teams as a way to enhance the nation's capacity and provide a pathway for young adults to enter the emergency-management profession, said Kate Raftery, national director of AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps. Raftery said FEMA Corps is full-time residential service program for individuals ages 18-24. Members serve a one-year term, including a minimum of 1,700 hours over four to six deployments.
FEMA Corps members’ assignments can range from rehabilitating low-income housing, responding to natural disasters, cleaning up streams, helping communities develop emergency plans and addressing other local needs. Sponsoring organizations can request assistance through a letter of interest submitted to AmeriCorps NCCC’s regional campus that services that specific organization’s state (see map). Each campus serves as a headquarters for its multistate region and provides assistance in completing the application, developing a work plan and preparing the project sponsor for the arrival of the volunteer teams.
“Sponsors have to provide housing and supervision — not saying heavy — but we want to make sure the team is reaching the goals sponsors have laid out for them,” she added. “We want the community to see, at the end of FEMA Corps service, that a contribution has been made.”
The first members began serving in August and the program will reach its full capacity within 18 months, Raftery said. After completing FEMA Corps service, members will receive a $5,550 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award based on Pell Grant appropriations to pay for tuition or student loans.
Sidebar: FEMA Corps Service Assignments
Below are the disaster-related activities FEMA Corps members will engage in:
- Community Relations Specialist trainee
- Disaster Recovery Center Support Specialist trainee
- Individual Assistance Applicant Services Program Specialist
- Individual Assistance Reports Specialist trainee
- Logistics Specialist trainee
- Logistics Systems Specialist trainee
- Mass Care/Emergency Assistance Specialist trainee
- Public Assistance Project Specialist trainee
- Voluntary Agency Liaison Specialist trainee