Maria Shriver launches program honoring her dad

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Maria Shriver launches program honoring her dad
Maria Shriver and Sargent Shriver (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Maria Shriver & husband Arnold Schwarzenegger flanked by her parents Sargent Shriver & Eunice Kennedy Shriver (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Bobby Shriver, Christopher Shriver, Eunice Shriver, Anthony Shriver, Maria Shriver, Arnold Schwarzenegger, & Sargent Shriver (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 23: Maria Shriver arrives with parents Eunice and Sargent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the opening of 'Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years, Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.' The exhibit, put together by the museum's Costume Institute, is a retrospective of the style and elegance of the late first lady. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
HYANNIS, MA - SEPTEMBER 1: Sargent Shriver and Maria Shriver sighted on September 1, 1980 in Hyannis, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
American politician and ambassador Sargent Shriver (born Robert Sargent Shriver Jr) and two of his children, Maria and Timothy (Tim), attend the premiere of the film version of 'Fiddler on the Roof' at the Rivoli Theater, New York, New York, November 3, 1971. (Photo by Tim Boxer/Getty Images)
HYANNIS, MA - SEPTEMBER 1: (L-R) Maria Shriver, Sargent Shriver and Robin Lawford sighted on September 1, 1980 in Hyannis, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver and Sargent Shriver (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

By Beth Harpaz

NEW YORK (AP) - Maria Shriver is launching a new U.S. volunteer initiative called the Shriver Corps, named in part to honor the legacy of her late father, Sargent Shriver, who founded the Peace Corps.

The Shriver Corps will train volunteers to help poor Americans connect with programs they're entitled to but that they may not be aware of - everything from tax credits and food stamps to employment, health and child care assistance.

"Many programs exist that are intended for people who have no idea that they exist," Maria Shriver said in a phone interview preceding the official launch Thursday of the Shriver Corps. "This is a chance for young people to be of service and help others who can't navigate the system by giving them a helping hand. ... A lot of people in this country are struggling."

Sargent Shriver founded the Peace Corps while working in the administration of President John F. Kennedy and also established domestic anti-poverty programs like Head Start and the now-defunct VISTA volunteer program, which was a forerunner of AmeriCorps.

Maria Shriver said she hopes the Shriver Corps inspires young Americans "to learn about Daddy and what his beliefs were and his vision."

She said she was also inspired to create the corps by work she did on women's issues and with families in need when she was first lady of California. Her ex-husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, served as governor from 2003-2011.

Maria Shriver said the Shriver Corps will partner with an existing nonprofit organization called LIFT, which helps the poor in six cities find jobs, housing and employment. The first group of 20 Shriver Corps fellows are AmeriCorps volunteers who will work full-time for a year in a community served by LIFT.

Like AmeriCorps workers, Shriver Corps fellows will receive cost-of-living allowances. The program, which is supported by Bank of America, was announced Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, at a Bank of America Student Leaders Summit event.

"Service can be a powerful agent of change to combat poverty," said Anne Finucane, Bank of America's head of strategy. "Partnerships like this are advancing the service movement."

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