The Corps Network Establishes the Patricia Sagawa Corpsmember Relief Fund

Made possible through a generous donation, the fund will offer critical support to young adults in national service programs.
Corpsmembers enrolled in member organizations of The Corps Network will be able to request an annual maximum of $1,000 to help address short-term obstacles to their service term success.


WASHINGTON, DC (December 8, 2021) –– The Corps Network is pleased to announce the launch of the Patricia Sagawa Corpsmember Relief Fund. Through an application process, this fund will offer critical financial support to young adults facing barriers during their term of a service in one of the 140+ member organizations of The Corps Network. Applications for support through the fund will open on January 10, 2022. The fund is made possible through a generous donation by Shirley Sagawa, a member of The Corps Network’s board of directors, in honor of her mother.  

“The Corps Network has long been a leader committed to making national service accessible to young people of all backgrounds, which makes it a perfect home for this fund,” said Shirley Sagawa. “My mother would be so pleased to know that her legacy of giving will be honored in this way.” 

“A term of service in a Corps is often a transformative experience, providing a young person with the opportunity to develop marketable skills and explore their own potential. The option to serve our country through a national service program should be accessible to all, but we know that financial barriers and family obligations can create obstacles for those who have much to give and gain through a service term. We are thrilled that the Patricia Sagawa Corpsmember Relief Fund will help make national service a more viable option for many young people,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President & CEO of The Corps Network. “On behalf of the Corps community, I extend deep appreciation to the Sagawa family for making this fund possible.”  

The fund is designed to offer support to young adults facing obstacles to their service or conditions that may prevent them from serving or completing their term of service. Funds can be requested to support short-term relief including, but not limited to: 

  • Childcare 
  • Clothing and Supplies (boots, tent, backpacks, professional clothing, etc.) *only supplies not covered by the program are eligible 
  • Food 
  • Housing 
  • Medical Expenses 
  • Transportation (public transportation, fuel, repairs, etc.) 
  • Unforeseen need to travel home  
  • Utilities 

Shirley Sagawa is the former CEO of Service Year Alliance, where a similar fund was piloted. She has been called a “founding mother of the modern service movement” for her work on national service. As a co-founder of sagawa/jospin, a consulting firm that provided strategic counsel to nonprofits, she played strategic roles in the creation of America Forward, Cities of Service, Service Year Exchange, and the Presidio Institute Fellows Program. She served as a presidential appointee in both the first Bush and Clinton administrations, and has been nominated by President Biden to serve on the Board of AmeriCorps. As special assistant to the president for domestic policy, Sagawa was instrumental to the drafting and passage of legislation creating the Corporation for National and Community Service. After being confirmed by the Senate as the Corporation’s first managing director, she led the development of new service programs for adults and students, including AmeriCorps. 

Her mother, Patricia Sagawa, passed away in 2018. Shirley describes her as a person who cared about people in need. There were many examples of her caring nature through her life’s actions: she raised money to pay for the breast cancer surgery for a business contact in Africa, assisted the family of a handyman who had attempted suicide, tried to keep an employee in her restaurant out of prison when he was arrested on a drug offense, and cared for many, many other people. She was passionate about the civil rights movement and attended the White House swearing in of the first AmeriCorps members. Knowing what it was like to grow up in a poor family with parents who never graduated from high school, she too faced setbacks when her college savings had to go towards an emergency. Later in life, first as a nurse and then as the proprietor of two small businesses, when someone she knew was in need, she could not help but step in.  

Applicants to the Patricia Sagawa Corpsmember Relief Fund can request up to $500 at one time. Requests may not to exceed two in a calendar year. Applicants will be asked to explain their need in a narrative format, but will not be required to submit proof of income or need. Programs will verify the status of the Corpsmember. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis; awards will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. If an applicant submits more than one application within a six-month period, those requests will be considered based on availability of funds. No more than $5,000 may be awarded to members associated with the same entity within a calendar year. 

To apply for funding, applicants must meet the following criteria: 

  • A Corpsmember actively serving in a Full Service and Conservation Corps member organization of The Corps Network.  
  • Individuals who have been accepted to participate in a Full Service and Conservation Corps member organization (applications may be submitted no more then 60 days prior to the start of their service term) 
  • Alum of a Full Service and Conservation Corps member organization (up to 6 months post service) 

Funds can be requested by Corpsmembers directly, or in coordination with Corps staff. Payments from the Patricia Sagawa Corpsmember Relief Fund will be made to the Corpsmember only, not to Corps organizations. Assistance and guidance with the application process can be provided if needed. More information about the fund and the payment process will be published in advance of the release of the application on January 10.  



About The Corps Network

The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, provides leadership and support to over 140 Corps across the United States. Through advocacy, and providing Corps access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables more than 22,000 Corpsmembers to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service. Learn more about The Corps Network at 


Hannah Traverse
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Washington, DC 20005