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Bill To Encourage Youth Service Nears Final Approval in Congress

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Washington--A measure that would encourage school-age children and young adults to take part in community-service programs is nearing final Congressional approval.

A compromise version of the bill, which would authorize a total of $287 million over the next three years for youth and adult community-service programs, was adopted by the Senate last week.

The House was expected to approve the measure late last week or early this week, and President Bush has said he would sign the bill into law.

Under the bill, states could apply for grants to expand or implement community-service and "service-learning" programs for students in elementary and secondary schools, and for out-of-school youths.

Under the measure, people between the ages of 16 and 25 who participate full time in a conservation or human-services project could receive vouchers worth up to $5,000 for each year of service, to be applied to educational costs.

They would also receive a yearly salarly equal to the federal poverty line for a familiy of two, currently $8,420. Young people without high-school diplomas would be targeted by this program, which would also provide enrollees with education and training.

The bill also targets money for programs that allow out-of-school youths to renovate inner-city housing, and authorizes $5 million in the current fiscal year for the Point of Light Initiative Foundation, which will identify exemplary service projects and encourage volunteerism.--ef

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