The Byrds, Temptations, Lovin’ Spoonful and VISTA

A VISTA Campus web site has been launched to serve as a learning resource for VISTAs and supervisors. One of my favorite sections is an alumni page that includes audio files from many of the “Voices of VISTA” radio programs that aired during the 1960s. Musical performers who perform VISTA public service announcements include Otis Redding, Simon and Garfunkel, and Peggy Lee. Leonard Nimoy also did a Voices of VISTA spot, but for whatever reason it’s not included here.

When you click the link, log on as a guest to check out these sound files. You can also check out other sections of the campus.

Service Nation Summit

A campaign for service

Want to keep up with the latest Service Nation news? Follow Service Nation news through BetheChangeInc on Twitter!

On September 11 and 12, 500 leaders from public, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors will come together in New York City to call on the next president of the United States to “enact a new era of voluntary service and civic engagement in America, an era in which all Americans will work together to solve our greatest and most persistent societal challenges.”

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain (presidential nominees of the two major parties) have both now confirmed that they will speak at the Service Nation Summit.

And you can watch it live (Thursday, 8 pm EDT) on CNN!

Other speakers at the two-day event will include First Lady Laura Bush (invited), Senator Hillary Clinton, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The aim of the summit will be to lay out a policy blue print for solving tough social problems through expanding citizen service. Read the TIME magazine article from this summer by TIME Managing Editor Rick Stengel.

The Service Nation campaign is a coalition of over 110 organizations (including Idealist.org) that has been organized by Be the Change Inc. and founded by City Year‘s founder Alan Khazei. The initiative will come to a service project near you on September 27 with over 1000 events in communities across the country on the Service Nation Day of Action. Learn more and to find out how you can get involved with the Service Nation campaign in your community. Read more on The Page blog by Mark Halperin.

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Do you have questions to ask of Senators McCain or Obama about national service?

At the Service Nation Summit Presidential Candidates’s Forum Sept. 11, facilitators will ask questions submitted on the Service Nation web site.

Also, check out the Service Nation page on Facebook.

A VISTA perk

Not only is VISTA service a great way to serve a year (or two or three) and get an award to help pay for school or repay student loans, it can also give alumni an advantage when applying for federal jobs.

Upon the completion of service, VISTAs receive a year of non-competitive eligibility for federal jobs. What this means is you can apply for federal jobs that are not open to the general public. (NOTE: This benefit only applies to VISTA and Peace Corps.)

This benefit doesn’t guarantee you a federal job, but as long as your qualified and there is an opening, you have a better shot at getting hired than someone who never served.

Here’s some additional info from cns.gov:

To establish your non-competitive status, you will need proof of eligibility. Once you have completed service, log onto the My AmeriCorps portal to print an AmeriCorps*VISTA certification letter. Visit http://my.americorps.gov to register at the My AmeriCorps portal. Click the “My Service Letter” link to create and print your letter. If your letter is incorrect or the portal cannot locate your record, please contact the VISTA Member Support Unit at VISTAMemberSupportUnit@cns.gov.

Submit copies of this statement with your federal job applications. Information on federal positions can be obtained from USAJOBS, the federal government’s one-stop source for federal jobs and employment information. USAJOBS is accessible at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/.

Service alumni needed to blog about grad school

Bloggers Needed for Idealist.org
School seekers and students write about grad school

Tomorrow’s civic leaders learn about grad school through Idealist’s events and resources.

Soon they can learn from each other.

In fall 2008, Idealist will link its Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center to bloggers who take on grad school.

The resource center is a collection of articles and advice about researching and choosing schools, applying and financing a degree, and more. The resource center will not host the new blogs, but link to blogs elsewhere on the web.

Types of bloggers we are looking for
We aim to look at grad school from 9 different lenses

Current or prospective…
1. Participant in a term-of-service program (Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Teach For America, etc.) who is taking advantage of an educational benefit associated with service2. International student pursuing a graduate degree in the United States who is a resident of the United States and intends to stay (immigrant)
3. International student pursuing a graduate degree in the United States who is a nonresident/alien who plans to leave the United States upon graduation (F1 Visa)
4. U.S. citizen pursuing a degree outside the United States
5. Grad student enrolled in a joint degree program
6. Part-time grad student working full-time
7. Doctoral Candidate
8. Undergraduate applying to grad school, with the aim of enrolling the fall after college graduation
9. Masters degree candidate

To learn more, go to http://tinyurl.com/idealistblogger!

Eight Years Out: the Public Impact of AmeriCorps Service

An Idealist.org Careers Podcast conversation with CNCS’s Bob Grimm

Solid evidence now exists to show that participating in a term of service program (like AmeriCorps, Teach For America, and Peace Corps) really is an effective launching-off point for a public service career.  Idealist has long held this belief, and has been formalizing its support of these programs since 2007.

Earlier this year the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) published an eight-year longitudinal study of people who participated in AmeriCorps programs in 1999-2000, as well as of people who considered participating but chose not to during the same year. It turns out that two-thirds of AmeriCorps alumni (including AmeriCorps*NCCC alumni) from that year are currently engaged in nonprofit or government careers — outnumbering the group who didn’t participate in AmeriCorps.
Click here to download. (0:30:27)

Today’s guest is Bob Grimm, Director of Research and Policy Development & Senior Counselor to the CEO at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in Washington, DC. He speaks with Idealist.org’s Amy Potthast about the study design and outcomes, and about some of the people who have served in AmeriCorps.

Are you a service corps alumni now engaged in a public service career? What do you do? Where do you work? We’d love to hear more!

In New Orleans: Service by the People, for the People

Marginalized New Orleans Youth Strive for a Brighter, Greener Future

The Corps Network has recently launched a new service program in New Orleans. The Conservation Corps of Greater New Orleans (CCGNO) combines many goals:

  • Engage local youth whom the schools have not reached, including formerly incarcerated and court-involved 16-24 year olds
  • Prepare these youth with highly marketable and potentially lucrative green job skills
  • Give them the chance to use sustainable practices to restore the environment and historic structures, conserve energy, and build community
  • Revitalize New Orleans, a city still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina
  • Innovate service learning practices by implementing them without the classroom
  • Transform the public perception of marginalized youth by giving them a platform and a voice
  • Instill in these youth the value of service to community at an early age

CCGNO leverages some investment from the Federal government, to not only transform the lives of its Corps members but also to rebuild and rejuvenate New Orleans infrastructure and community.

The program graduates its first class of Corps members this Friday through its Service Learning Showcase, where 100 Corps members will share their accomplishments from their three-month term of service.

During their term, Corps members visualized success, researched and assessed community needs, proposed and implemented sustainable projects, and finally evaluated their own outcomes. Corps members have served side by side with up to seven peers, plus professional mentors who have guided them. They have served in agencies throughout Greater New Orleans.

Recruited from the parishes of Greater New Orleans, the inaugural class of CCGNO show that quality service-learning comes through youth ownership. By mid-2009, CCGNO hopes to have graduated 800 Corps members.

While some service corps programs are hit-or-miss when it comes to career transitions, CCGNO is all about green workforce development, and commits to propelling its graduating Corps members towards green jobs and further education.

For further reading on bringing all voices to the environmental movement, check out GreenForAll.org. In November 2008, Green For All’s founder Van Jones published a book Green Collar Economy. Also read this New York Times blog post (from 11/10/08) about Van Jones and the Obama administration. Check out this interview with Van Jones, who explains more:

Congressional action on AmeriCorps

Since Congress is in recess, here’s an update on two pieces of legislation relevant to the AmeriCorps world. H.R. 6407 is a bill in the House of Representatives that would eliminate federal taxation on the education award. You can track the progress of the bill through this website. There’s no way of knowing when there will be further action on the bill, or whether or not it will cover former VISTAs and AmeriCorps participants who graduated from the program already but who have not yet redeemed their awards. The bill still has a long way to go before passage, but it’s also the most movement I have seen on the ed award taxation issue I’ve seen since 2002.

On the Senate side, Evan Bayh of Indiana co-sponsored the AmeriCorps Act of 2008 in May. Passage of this bill would adjust the AmeriCorps/VISTA education award to $6,185 (from the current $4,725) and also get rid of the taxation on the award.