In his campaign pitch to older Americans, Barack Obama promised to expand a volunteer program aimed at keeping seniors active in their communities.
The Senior Corps offers seniors ways to become involved in community service, including the Foster Grandparents program and the Senior Companions program, which enable seniors to teach children and help the elderly stay in their homes.
On April 21, 2009, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, a large expansion of national service programs. In signing it, Obama fulfilled his campaign promise to fund a major expansion of AmeriCorps, which we wrote about in April.
The act also expanded the Senior Corps. It lowered the minimum age of eligibility for its Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions programs from 60 to 55, and increased the maximum hourly stipend offered as an incentive to volunteer from $2.45 to $3.
Other incentives were also created by the act, like a $1,000 education scholarship for seniors who complete 350 hours of service. Seniors can transfer the scholarship to their children or grandchildren.
The Serve America Act increased incentives for seniors to get involved in community service and increased the number of seniors eligible to participate, fulfilling the promise made by Obama and earning him a Promise Kept.