Posts Tagged ‘ President Obama ’

President Obama on the Serve America Act

Barack Obama

Update, April 21, 2009: President Obama signs the Serve America Act into law. To take effect October 1, 2009.

This evening President Obama issued this statement in the hours after the Senate passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

“I’m so pleased that the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act — legislation that will usher in a new era of service. I want to applaud all those who have worked so hard to see this bill through, and I am eager to sign it into law.

“This legislation will help create new opportunities for millions of Americans at all stages of their lives. From improving service learning in schools to creating an army of 250,000 volunteers a year dedicated to addressing our nation’s toughest problems. From connecting working Americans to a variety of part-time service opportunities to better utilizing the skills and experience of our retirees and baby boomers. This legislation will help tap the genius of our faith based and community organizations, and it will find the most innovative ideas for addressing our common challenges and helping those ideas grow.

“It is fitting that this legislation is named after Ted Kennedy, a person who has never stopped asking what he could do for his country. This legislation is not just a tribute to the service to which he has dedicated his life, it is a call to action for the rest of us. Our work is not finished when I sign this bill into law – it has just begun. While our government can provide every opportunity imaginable for us to serve our communities, it is up to each of us to seize those opportunities. To do our part to lift up our fellow Americans. To realize our own true potential. I call on all Americans to stand up and do what they can to serve their communities, shape our history and enrich both their own lives and the lives of others across this country.”

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President Obama’s Call to Service

picture-17In speech and action, the 44th President of the United States calls on us to serve.

In his career, his MLK Day volunteering, Inaugural address, and his National Day of Renewal and Reconciliaion 2009, Barack Obama has called on Americans to serve in their communities.

Excerpted from the Proclamation, signed shortly after taking office:

We are in the midst of a season of trial. Our Nation is being tested, and our people know great uncertainty. Yet the story of America is one of renewal in the face of adversity, reconciliation in a time of discord, and we know that there is a purpose for everything under heaven.

On this Inauguration Day, we are reminded that we are heirs to over two centuries of American democracy, and that this legacy is not simply a birthright — it is a glorious burden. Now it falls to us to come together as a people to carry it forward once more.

So in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, let us remember that: “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2009, a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, and call upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.

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Service Nation and MTV to Co-Host Inaugural Ball

Service Nation and MTV will co-host the Be The Change Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2009, the day President-Elect Barack Obama becomes president.

Service Nation, the campaign to increase support of national service, and MTV will partner to host a ball that celebrates the turnout of youth during the recent election. According to the MTV press release:

A record 24 million people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2008 presidential election, accounting for 18 percent of the 133.3 million voters who hit the polls. It marked the third major election in a row with increased youth-voter numbers, and for the first time in 20 years, the number of young voters surpassed the number of voters over the age of 65.

The event will take place in Washington, D.C.’s Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Guests will include celebrities, government leaders, and young volunteers. You’ll be able to watch the event on

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Obamas, Public Allies in the Spotlight

Service program receives more, positive, media attention while solving tough social problems for communities and offering professional growth for corps members.


Public Allies has received a lot of tough press among obscure blogs this year, but with established connections to the future President and First-Lady, the outlook in the media has just gotten brighter for the national, Milwaukee-based AmeriCorps program.

Here are just a couple news items involving Public Allies in the past week since the election:

The National Public Radio show Morning Edition mentioned Public Allies this morning in a discussion of Michelle Obama’s executive experience since graduating from law school. She was the founding Executive Director of Public Allies Chicago.

The San Francisco Chronicle published this article about social entrepreneurs’s hopes for the new administration. The New York Post ran an article on Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama chatted last week with a Newsweek journalist about her experience with Public Allies and the future of national service generally:

[Richard Wolffe:] You want to continue what you did with Public Allies (which trains young people to become leaders of community groups and nonprofits) as First Lady. What’s your thinking on how to go about that?

images[Michelle Obama:] Barack is talking about a deeper investment in national service; that’s been part of his platform. He’s been meeting with some of the leadership of the AmeriCorps national-service movements—the Public Allies, the Teach for Americas, the City Years of the World—and figuring out how do we use that model, expand upon it, and help use that as a more creative way to defray the costs of college for young people and get all Americans really engaged. What AmeriCorps showed me, during the time that I worked on it, is that all these resources of young people, and not-so-young people, as I call them—because AmeriCorps is not just for young adults but people of all ages—you can fill a lot of gaps with the help of community-service hours. The young people in my program worked as program directors. They worked with kids and they worked in parks and they worked with nonprofit organizations that didn’t have the resources to bring people in full time. So this is one of those clear win-wins. You can help kids pay for school, you can get needed man-hours into really critical things like the environment, senior care, Head Start—a whole range of things. And you get the country more focused on giving back.

Earlier this year, Fast Company named Public Allies and its President and CEO Paul Schmitz one of the top 45 Social Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the World.

11/12/08 an article about Public Allies appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

11/13/08 in Canada’s National Post.

What is Public Allies?

Public Allies is a 10-month service and leadership program that serves in 15 cities across the United States.  Corps members — called “Allies” — serve with nonprofits and universities to “create, improve and expand services that address diverse issues, including youth development, education, public health, economic development and the environment.”

The monthly stipend (at $1300-$1800) is higher than many AmeriCorps programs, and Allies are eligible for the $4725 AmeriCorps education award at the end of the term. But the best benefit of the program may be its extraordinary training opportunities. This, from the Public Allies web site:

A rigorous leadership development curriculum delivered by community leaders, practitioners and educators, which includes:

  • Intensive weekly skill training and leadership development seminars
  • Critical feedback, reflection, and personal coaching toward individual performance and professional goals
  • Community building and team projects with a diverse cohort of peers
  • Presentations of learning at the end of the year to demonstrate how one met the learning outcomes of the program

Good news for Public Allies and for national service

Not only Public Allies stands to benefit from the media attention, but national service as a whole does as well, including efforts like Service Nation, the campaign for expanded funding for service.

Besides the media attention, no president has had as much direct experience with the challenges and opportunities of national service as President-Elect Obama, who was a founding board member of Public Allies Chicago. He stepped down from his board post before Michelle Obama joined as staff.

Read more

Read more about applying to Public Allies, its distinguished alumni network, hiring a graduating Ally for your organization, hosting an Ally at your organization, and the program’s legacy of achievement.

On Michelle Obama and Public Allies, check out the Public Allies factsheet, and look for this year’s Michelle: A Biography by Liza Mundy at your local library.

A Socially Networked Administration

Blogging for, Adam Ostrow offers several suggestions for how Obama’s administration can continue to use its well-established social networks during the next four years and beyond.

Most of his ideas include keeping Obama’s base civically engaged—educating them about legislation that needs congressional support, and calling citizens to service:

Obama has often talked about a call to service during his campaign – things like expanding the Peace Corps and offering tax credits in exchange for public service. Why not allow users of MyBarackObama to utilize the platform to organize community service projects? Use Twitter and SMS to alert people to opportunities to give back in their own communities or when national tragedy strikes. Utilize Facebook to get the word out about charitable events. The tools and the users are already in place.

Rather than requiring people to be so proactive about doing good, Obama’s social media reach allows them to be reactive – staying informed of things going on in their communities, organizing people that can help, and then pitching in – all from the comfort of their personal computer.

I feel old saying this, but there was a time not so long ago when presidents wouldn’t even appear on night-time talk shows. What do you think of a President who keeps a blog, whom you can support on Facebook and who can follow you on Twitter?

How else can we capture the energy left in the wake of the election, where Democrats and Republicans mobilized to the mantra of “change”?

See this post about Obama’s plans for his social network.

Also check out this article on the implications of Obama’s online campaign for the social sector, by Tom Watson, author of CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World and publisher of OnPhilanthropy.


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