Legacy Corps is funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as an AmeriCorps project and is administered through the University of Maryland's Department of Health Services Administration in the School of Public Health.
The University of Maryland Center on Aging, under the auspices of the Department of Health Services Administration has significant expertise in aging, health and volunteerism. The Center on Aging was founded in 1974 as an all-university interdisciplinary entity designed to develop applied demonstration projects, policy studies, research, education, professional training, technical assistance and public service for the purpose of attaining the maximum quality of life and health status of older persons in the United States. This mission is operationalized in the areas of senior volunteerism, home and community-based care, formal and informal care support systems, life-long learning, active aging, economics of aging, independent living and health literacy.
From these multidisciplinary demonstration projects, Legacy Corps for Health and Independent Living was launched in 2001 as an evidence based service model providing in- home respite care to frail elders through volunteers. Legacy Corps, a program which combines lifelong learning with civic engagement, was designed to test the most effective methods to create sustainable and cost effective respite services in disadvantaged communities through the recruitment and retention of baby boomers as volunteers.
Initially, Legacy Corps focused on recruiting stipended and non stipended volunteers over the age of 50 who would each provide 450 hours of in home respite service per year to assist frail elders and disabled populations and their caregivers. The first grant provided funding for 125 quarter time (450 hours of service a year) volunteer members through three project sites in Florida and Illinois. In 2003, the Legacy Corps concept was expanded to test a new multigenerational model of respite service teams consisting of one volunteer member over the age of 50 and a second volunteer member between the ages of 16 and 49 years. In 2010-2011, Legacy Corps will have 588 member volunteers providing respite care service through 19 projects operating in nine states.
The mission of Legacy Corps is:
to serve as multi-generational ambassadors who are committed to preserving the wisdom of the past, applying knowledge to community need in the present, and transferring these gifts to future generations.
While in-home respite care is the primary objective of Legacy Corps, this mission statement also embraces the reality that addressing "community need" is diverse and must take into account the uniqueness of each community and targeted population base. Through the University of Maryland's Department of Health Services Administration a network of other health related support, intervention and education services enable us to expand our package of in-home care services.
The objectives of Legacy Corps are:
- Implement a national service model to attract/retain 50+ adults for volunteer community service.
- Create new meaningful roles and service opportunities for older adults to volunteer.
- Recruit multi-generational service teams for co-learning and service experiences.
- Provide transition/career pathways for 50+ adults from service to full or part-time paid employment to strengthen the non-profit sector.
- Engage and integrate the resources of the private-public sector for community revitalization
- Test out innovative incentives to attract and retain older adults as volunteers.
- Effect changes in national and state policies that impact senior volunteerism through evidence based research.
- Conduct national research and evaluation through active project site participation to establish base-line and on-going performance measures that demonstrate individual and organizational impact.
- Expand community capacity to meet identified human service needs through volunteer service.
What is the Required Commitment for Legacy Corps Members?
Member volunteers (they are not employees) commit to a one year contract which engages them in 450 hours of service. Up to 20% or 90 hours of the 450 hours can be spent in training and member development that may lead to a future career track or be customized for maximum personal achievement. Training is a vital part of the member volunteer experience. Based on approximately 40 weeks of active service (we know that member volunteers take time for vacation, sickness, etc.) the member volunteer provides 10-12 hours of service a week. All member volunteers must complete an application, agree to criminal and sex offender back ground checks, participate in the our national evaluation study and have mid-term and end of term evaluations.
Member volunteers receive a monthly taxable Living Allowance (not a wage) to help offset the cost of volunteering. If the member completes the entire 450 hours of service, they then are eligible for an Educational Award with an approximate dollar value of $1,250.00. There is pending legislation that will allow the educational award to be transferred to a child or grandchild provided certain member eligibility criteria is met. This award is handled through the CNCS National Trust and may be used to attend classes at any Title IV Institution of Higher Learning.