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 priorities of the ongoing Service Nation strategy, including establishing a cabinet-level role for service and volunteerism in every state, and reaching out to form military-civilian alliances around service:

A panel on keeping the momentum of the service movement that is so strong and energized right now with:

  • Introduced and facilitated by Col. Rob Gordon of City Year
  • Arianna Huffington, Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post: talked about the benefits of service to the servant—specifically the life-changing experiences for her daughters of getting involved in their communities as young people. (She gave the same speech Monday night.)
  • Colin Jones, an AmeriCorps VISTA with Bay Area Community Resources: as usual, the current (and/or former) corps members are the most interesting to listen to. Colin talked inspiringly about volunteering to clean up New Orleans homes during his undergraduate years at Oberlin, and his efforts to recruit other college kids to join him.
  • Lisa Paulsen, CEO of the Entertainment Industry Foundation: explained EIF’s initiatives to bring stories of service into the prime t.v. linue up during a week this coming October. Her son is a new City Year corps member.

Watch the home video-style footage of the panel:

Melody Barnes, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, who spoke about the example and inspiration of Barack and Michelle Obama as committed public servants, and President Obama’s call to citizens to take an active role in partnership with government to overcome challenges we’re facing today. She asked for the coalition’s support in getting the Serve America Act full appropriations amount that was authorized, and reported that the Social Innovations Fund appropriations process is already underway (see the first part of her talk below, and link to watch parts two and three):

Other speakers included corporate sponsors Laysha Ward, President of the Target Foundation and Shannon Schuyler, U.S. Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Alan Solomont, Chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service, spoke, emphasizing that it’s “no longer enough to provide good service experiences for those who serve” but that we must also, as a field, measure the impact of service in a more serious way than we have in the past. He echoed the Obama administration in also talking about taking feasible innovations to scale. He called political support for service and volunteerism “a mile wide but an inch deep,” as evidenced by mayors and governors not requesting stimulus funding for more national service corps members, and by the recent Massachusetts legislature coming this close to zeroing the budget of the Massachusetts commission on volunteering and service.

Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the new Allforgood.org initiative, spoke. All for Good is a free, open source application designed for all citizens to serve, and put together by engineers at Google. Already set to use the application are Serve.gov and MTV’s community engagement site. Idealist’s Ami Dar is on a board supporting All for Good, and Idealist’s volunteer opportunities will feed into All for Good and Serve.gov.

And the luncheon ended with Michael Brown, CEO and co-founder of City Year, and a leader among the Service Nation organizers:

Individual participants had a limited chance to offer questions during the panel and after Melody Barnes’s speech — and otherwise we were encouraged to jot our notes down and pass them along to organizers after the event.

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