RPCV Senator Dodd Introduces More Peace Corps Bill

This week, RPCV Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced s.1382, the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009.

The bill, as currently written, would authorize $450,000,000 for fiscal year 2010; $575,000,000 for fiscal year 2011; and $700,000,000 for fiscal year 2012 — representing a gradual increase to double Peace Corps’s current budget. The bill also requires the agency director carry out assessments that lead to a new strategic plan. (As of now, Obama hasn’t appointed a new Peace Corps director, Jody Olsen serves as Acting Director.)

Read the legislation (PDF). After it was introduced, the bill was sent to the Committee on Foreign Relations. (Is your Senator a member of this committee?)

Here is the transcript of Dodd’s speech on the floor of the Senate Thursday. Thanks to Jonathan Pearson at the National Peace Corps Association for this text:

Mr. President:

I rise today to introduce the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009.

For 48 years, the Peace Corps has stood as a uniquely American institution.  What other great nation would Continue reading

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NCVS Opening Plenary Monday Night

Michelle Obama speaking at NCVS 09

Michelle Obama speaking at NCVS 09

The launch of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service Monday night brought a huge crowd of people out to hear First Lady Michelle Obama speak, among other familiar faces.

When I arrived, the throngs of people waiting in line to go through security matched the throngs of people already inside the hall, and everyone was waiting for Michelle Obama. Helping the time fly was comic/emcee Wally Collins who made fun of individual audience members between introducing musical acts like Sondre Lerche and the Glide Ensemble. Also in the lead-in to the main event, Shawn Rubin accepted the Eli Segal Award from AmeriCorps Alums, Alan Khazei of Be the Change, Inc., spoke introducing corporate sponsor Shannon Schuyler of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

The highlight of the night didn’t come at the end, as I would have expected. Michelle Obama took the stage somewhere in the middle of the opening event, and everyone in the crowd cheered and stood if they could. Her words were inspiring of course, but I was more stunned by the simple fact of her presence—the President’s wife chose to spend time with us. She used to run a Public Allies AmeriCorps program—and said to start that she was with her people. What I liked the best about what she said was the reaction she and President Obama received when they each decided to forego lucrative careers for nonprofit jobs—Mrs. Obama at Public Allies and Pres. Obama at various nonprofits like the Developing Communities Project where he was a community organizer. She said, regarding people in our lives who dismiss our career choices: “But what these folks don’t understand is that the story of progress in this nation has always been the story of people who chose — in times of trial and struggle — to serve it.”

Mrs. Obama also announced the launch of the United We Serve summer of service initiative, which will last through Sept. 11th of this year, which will make community service easy to do for anyone, and focus on health care, energy Continue reading

Daily Points of Light Award to Cindy Kerr of ConKerr Cancer

Actress Kerry Washington, representing L’Oreal, presented the Daily Points of Light Award just now to

Adorable child from the ConKerr Cancer website

Adorable child from the ConKerr Cancer website

Cindy Kerr in the lead up to the opening session of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service.

Cindy Kerr’s organization ConKerr Cancer has mobilized volunteers to make over 90,000 pillow cases for sick kids.  Her endeavor began in 2002, inspired by her son Ryan who was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer in 2002. She started making pillow cases to brighten up his hospital room, and soon began to make them for other kids at the hospital.

From the ConKerr Cancer website:

In 2008, Ryan lost his very brave battle with cancer but the pillowcase project – now a not-for- profit called ConKerr Cancer – has grown in amazing ways.  In just two years, Cindy and thousands of volunteers have provided over 90,000 pillowcases to sick children in hospitals across North America and in South Africa.  School groups, sewing circles, church groups and fabric stores have all pitched in and are making pillowcases for the kids.

In 2007, Cindy was an honoree of L’Oreal’s Women of Worth Award.

Careers: Brand New Career Transitions Book for Current and Former Service Corps Members

Picture 19My career transitions book is live on Idealist! Free, downloadable, accessible from any place with an internet connection — and written just for you.

I’ve been working on this for almost a year — giant thanks to everyone who helped out reading and offering feedback!

Intended for national and international service corps audiences of all ages, Service Corps to Social Impact Career – A Companion to The Idealist Guides to Nonprofit Careers is a free new book from Idealist.org.

While most resources and trainings focusing on “life after” the corps begin and end with career search skill building, Service Corps to Social Impact Career emphasizes integrating career development throughout the term.

The book highlights practices that current corps members can incorporate during their service experience which also prepare them for their next steps, including discerning their professional calling, gaining relevant skills, building relationships, and documenting their accomplishments.

For corps members actively transitioning from their service term to a career or further education, Service Corps to Social Continue reading

National Conference on Volunteering and Service ’09: Participate from Home through Live Webcasts

Picture 17The 2009 National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS) starts today!

Last night, Conference organizers announced that they’re offering the first-ever live webcast of a couple of the events this week so that people who can’t be in the room can still see what’s going on and pose questions to the speakers. Learn more & register by following the hyperlinked event titles below:

National Service Town Hall Meeting
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 — 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM PST (2:30 PM-4:30 PM Eastern) Continue reading

Launching Today: YouTube’s Video Volunteers

Originally posted on today’s Idealist homepage blog by Julia Smith.

President Obama has asked everyone in the United States to heed the call of service – to pitch in and make their communities a better place. YouTube is stepping up to provide a very “21st century” way of doing just that: a new program called YouTube’s Video Volunteers.

The mission of YouTube’s Video Volunteers platform is to connect nonprofit organizations with skilled video makers who can help them broadcast their causes through video, reaching new audiences online and driving action around issues and projects that matter to them.

The Video Volunteers page shows video-related volunteer opportunities that have been posted to Allforgood.org (which includes listings from Idealist.org and VolunteerMatch). As a result, a YouTuber eager to help out might find a listing like this (“Afro Diaspora Music Video Website” in New York City) or this (“Promotional Video for the GO-Science Challenger Learning Center” in Greenville, NC).

Do you work at a nonprofit that needs help making a video? From now on, when you post a volunteer opportunity on Idealist, make sure to use the words Video Volunteer in your posting. That way, it will show up in the AllforGood feed – and as a result, on the YouTube Video Volunteers page.

To learn more, visit youtube.com/videovolunteers.

Service Nation Strategy Session in San Francisco as part of NCVS

Monday, Service Nation coalition members and others gathered for a luncheon at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, prior to the kick off of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service.

Overall the strategy luncheon was more luncheon than strategy, but I was glad to see an effort made to bring the Service Nation campaign spirit into the National Conference on Volunteering and Service gathering, which overall seeemed to involve more media attention and celebrity involvement this year than in the past.

Speakers included:

Alan Khaizei, founder of Be the Change, Inc, leader organizer of the Service Nation campaign, spoke—summarizing the Continue reading