Kennedy Serve America Act/GIVE Act PASSES – On Its Way to Obama’s Desk

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

Guest contributor Put Barber is the Editor of the Nonprofit FAQ at

The drama about a massive expansion in the national service programs is over. The House of Representatives adopted the Senate version of the Serve America Act on a vote of 275 to 149  at about 3 pm EST today. See how representatives voted on the Senate’s amendments to H.R. 1388.

The bill is the same as the version of the bill that passed the House last week, but the Senate version is different in several key ways.

Symbolically, the bill was renamed in honor of Senator Edward Kennedy, one of the original sponsors, who is currently undergoing treatment for a dangerous brain cancer.

Substantively, the restrictive language about advocacy that had been inserted into the House bill at the last minute was removed.

And interestingly, the Senate version includes start-up funding for a program of federal support for state-level nonprofit capacity-building centers across the country.

And, of course, at the headline level, the bill authorizes an increase from 75,000 to 250,000 in the numbers of enrollees in the various programs of the Corporation for National and Community Service — AmeriCorps, VISTA, and several others.

A good introduction to the details of the new programs can be found through the link on this Independent Sector website. Here is the text of the Serve America Act, as passed by the Senate (and approved today in the House) (PDF).

How Will the National Service Legislation Affect You?

Serve Next asks for your stories about how the Serve America Act, if it passes, will affect you and your community.

Kim Wollner writes on the Serve Next blog:

With the most difficult tasks behind us, we now look forward to the effects the Serve America Act will have on the nation.  The legislation joins together numerous service organizations to increase their resources, numbers, and funding.  But what does that really mean?

I am in the process of collecting stories and expectations for the Serve America Act from these organizations and individuals involved in service at all levels.  These stories will explain how a piece of legislation will improve national service in the very near future.

She invites you to share your personal story, or your reaction to the Serve America Act with her, kim [at]

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National Service Legislation Goes Back to the House for a Final Vote

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

According to Voices For National Service, the House could send the National Service Bill to President Obama this week.

Monday and Tuesday of this week, the House of Representatives will consider the version of the national service legislation that was amended and passed last week by the Senate. The legislation goes by the names The GIVE Act and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, and is also known as H.R. 1388.

If the House passes the bill, the legislation will be sent to President Obama to be signed into law.

The House is considering H.R. 1388 on the Suspension Calendar, and debate will be limited to 40 minutes. Under suspension, no one can further amend the bill, or recommit it to the House Labor and Education Committee where it originated. The bill must get a two-thirds super majority to pass.

Because the Senate’s bill is more costly than the original bill passed in the House, getting it through the House with a super majority may prove challenging.

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AmeriCorps NCCC: Give A Lot & Gain Even More!

A conversation about AmeriCorps NCCC — from people who know the program well. NCCC is currently accepting applications.

Sunday Kofax's Flickr photostream

Sunday Kofax's Flickr photostream

Last evening, I had dinner with two AmeriCorps NCCC alumnae, at a quaint French bistro with absolutely the best roasted chicken. Needless to say the conversation went where it naturally flows when national service folks are gathered:

“Which NCCC campus did you serve at?” “You did Peace Corps…what country did you serve in?” “So, two years…that’s a long time.” “What was your favorite project?” “Why did you choose NCCC?” “Did you like your assignment?” “Did you get along with anyone on your team?”

Satiated from her roasted chicken dinner and awaiting her crème brulee, Tiffany admitted she was attracted to NCCC because of the broad range of service opportunities it offered. She said the various project assignments (members complete four to five different projects in ten months) was a natural fit to her goal-oriented nature.

While Shawna, who’d just polished off a truly appetizing duck confit (she gave me a piece), was now savoring her profiteroles Continue reading

Idealist to Participate in the National Conference on Volunteering and Service

In late June, the national service community will come together NCVSonce again for the annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service.

This year the conference will take place in San Francisco; early bird registration is open through April 30. is honored to host a career center within the conference where we want to hear from you about your career transition needs and questions.We’ll be offering one-on-one career consultation, an overview of free and relevant resources for you and your team to use, and mini workshops on a range of topics like informational interviewing and self assessment.

If you are a program director, I invite you to a workshop I’m offering to help you support your corps members with their career transitions while balancing the myriad other priorities of your work.

With the mounting energy of expanded national service, this summer promises to be one of the most exciting conferences ever. Stay up to date about conference developments by following NCVS on Twitter, or subscribing to the new blog!

We at Idealist are eager to see you there!

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National Peace Corps Association Looking for Several New Interns

Peace Corps ConnectThe independent organization of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, based in Washington, D.C., is recruiting several interns.

The National Peace Corps Association is seeking the following interns:

An advocacy intern, responsible for supporting and building the network of NPCA advocates, assisting with Capitol Hill advocacy actions, website editing and general advocacy campaigning, including and especially our More Peace Corps campaign.

An assistant to the president (intern) working closely with the president of NPCA to write and edit grant proposals, fundraising letters, and articles for publication, as well as help in the development of organizational projects.

A membership and group relations intern responsible for coordinating and communicating with member groups, identifying and highlighting best practices, marketing and program administration.

And finally a communications/social media intern to work closely with the Director of Communications to help write and edit pieces for the NPCA website, blog, e-newsletter and Worldview magazine, as well as to help manage the NPCA accounts on Web 2.0 sites including Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin, and Flickr.

The internships are unpaid, but the organization’s staff is enthusiastic, wise, and caring. Deadline to apply is April 15th.

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Career Tip: Setting Yourself Up for Success!

In my workshops with corps members who are considering their future career transitions, I  first emphasize things they can do during their term to get ready for their next steps, whether it’s going back to school or taking on a job.

You do not have to wait till the very end of your term to gear up for “Life After…”. You can do several things now to help you prepare — things that enhance your performance in your service corps, and that may help you relax about the changes ahead.

1. Save material evidence of your service experience: numbers, photos and “artifacts” (writing samples, performance evaluations, thank-you notes to you, agendas of meetings or events you organized, etc.)

2. Discern your next steps! Take some time to figure out what you want to do. Also see the self assessment exercises in Chapter Three of the Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers. The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers is a free, downloadable guide to the nuts and bolts of a career transition — and is applicable to any sector, though the focus in on nonprofits. Look for the companion guide for corps members coming this summer.

3. Once you know where you may be headed, figure out who is already there — and how they got there, how they like it, what they actually do.

Maintain good relationships with the people in your service community (partners at other organizations, for example) by striving to be a good resource for them. Build additional strategic networks through informational interviewing.

Ask people in your network where local jobs are posted in the fields you‘re interested in. Don’t forget that many nonprofits and government agencies  list their jobs only on their own sites. has job listings, too, is expanding to offer government job postings, and you can sign up for email alerts; other nonprofit-specific job sites you can check out here.

Learn how to talk about your service experience with the people in your new networks, and prepare to talk about it for the job interview. Also check out this podcast show featuring Meg Busse, co-author of the Idealist Guide.

4. Build new skills. Take advantage of projects you are working on at your host site to explore new roles you can play to get on-the-job practice with new skills. Let your site director know what your training needs are — for direction about where to get the support as well as to suggest possible topics for the existing, regular trainings you have with other members of your team.

Seek out other professional development workshops, or if you can, take a college course.

Check out The Resource Center for free online training, recorded webinars, and resources for your professional development. If you have specialized expertise, share it with others on your team.

5. Finally, beef up your job search skills, or learn as much as you can about grad school. For nuts and bolts of your job search — resume crafting, writing cover letters, prepping for your interview, negotiating a salary — please, please check out the Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers which you can download for FREE.

Specific questions about your career transition? Please email us at and we’ll try to answer them (without identifying you) on the blog.

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