Recipes for Healthy Holiday Eats and Treats

The holiday season is amongst us, which includes an ample dose of delicious celebratory foods and drinks. It can be hard to pass up egg nog, creamy dips, latkes, or any holiday food. And as a number one fan of my mother’s sugar cookies, I wouldn’t ask anyone to give up their indulgent holiday favorite.

However, several days ago, I contributed to a healthy holiday potluck gathering with fellow HealthCorps’ corps members. The spread of “healthified” and inexpensive options varied from creative appetizers to desserts and reaffirmed the notion that healthy holiday treats can extend beyond an entire table of carrots and yogurt dip. I’ve chosen several inexpensive, healthier, and delicious recipes to incorporate into your regular holiday fare this year. Follow the recipes to a “T” or create your own versions.

Spicy Sweet Potato Cakes and Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato or yam, cooked and peeled
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and very thinly grated
  • ½ Jalapeno pepper, minced Continue reading
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Calling All Applicants! Webinar on Getting into the Peace Corps!

All right, all you prospective Peace Corps applicants I’ve been talking with lately: here is your chance to get expert insider advice on how to ace your Peace Corps application.

Tomorrow, 12/19 at 10 am PST (1 pm EST), Kate Kuykendall — a former Peace Corps Volunteer and recruiter, who is now the Public Affairs Specialist in the Los Angeles Peace Corps regional recruitment office — is sharing her best advice on “Getting into the Peace Corps” via an online webinar.

Here’s the description:

With approximately one in three applicants entering Peace Corps service and the recent 18% increase in applications, applying to become a Peace Corps volunteer is more competitive than ever.

Please join us for a webinar that will suggest ways in which future and current candidates can strengthen their Peace Corps application. A staff member from the L.A. recruitment office will cover general application tips, as well as specific volunteer experiences or language study that will make your application more competitive.

Register here!

Are you attending? What do you want to know about the process?

Teachers College Announces a New Teacher Residency Program

Teachers College at Columbia University is launching a new program to help people earn an affordable master’s degree while apprenticing with experienced teachers in high-needs New York City classrooms.

Funded through a new U.S. Department of Education initiative to bring teacher education into the 21st century, the Teaching Residents at Teachers College (TR@TC) program is a 14-month graduate-level program.

Modeled after a medical residency, the new teaching residency at TC gives teaching students, or “residents,” the chance to implement ideas in a classroom setting, while receiving feedback and support from expert practitioners. Residents are simultaneously taking graduate level classes.

While other teaching residency programs also focus on bringing highly qualified, diverse people into the classroom as Continue reading

Senate Approves Funding for Peace Corps and AmeriCorps Programs

Today the Senate  gave final congressional approval to a package of six appropriations bills to fund many government programs for Fiscal Year 2010, including 1.149 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service, and  $400 million for the Peace Corps.

President Obama is expected to sign the appropriations package into law shortly.

The $400 million appropriation for Peace Corps is larger than Obama’s budget request, and it means that the agency should be able to place higher numbers of Volunteers in the field.

The $1.149 billion appropriation is the largest in the history of the Corporation for National and Community Service — $260 million more than last year. The increased funding will make it possible for the organization to move forward implementing initiatives authorized by April’s Serve America Act. Here’s an excerpt from this afternoon’s announcement:

The budget provides increases for all the Corporation’s programs, including a significant expansion of AmeriCorps, taking the first step towards the Serve America Act goal of 250,000 AmeriCorps members by 2017.  In addition to increasing member positions, the bill funds the first-ever increase in the dollar amount of the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award members earn in return for their service. The $220.9 million for Senior Corps includes increases for all three Senior Corps programs and will support nearly 500,000 older volunteers to meet local needs through service.  The five percent increase for Learn and Serve America will support 1.3 million participants, increase the number of disadvantaged youth participating, and begin a 10-year longitudinal study on the impact of service-learning.

The legislation funds a number of new initiatives, including $50 million for the Social Innovation Fund, which will help solve some of our nation’s most difficult social challenges by investing in promising programs and practices that have demonstrated outcomes. In addition, $4 million was included for the Volunteer Generation Fund to develop and improve volunteer recruitment efforts, $1 million will support a new Nonprofit Capacity Building Program, and $2 million was allocated for a new Summer of Service program to engage middle school students in community-based service-learning projects.  For more information on the Corporation’s Fiscal 2010 budget, click here.

The First Gathering of VISTAs at the White House – 45 Years Ago Today

This past week my friend Rich lent me a copy of a book called Warriors for the Poor by William Crook and Ross Thomas, published in 1968, which tells the story of one of our first national service corps, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America).

Inspired by the Peace Corps as a way to improve the lives of people in poverty here at home, and initiated several decades after the Civilian Conservation Corps (a public works corps during the Depression years), the VISTA experiment had its share of champions and doubters.

Some doubters didn’t believe U.S. citizens would sign up — but as the numbers of applicants rose throughout the 60s, those doubts were forgotten. Other doubters worried that the corps would be marketed as a glossy panacea to all a community’s woes, and that it would duplicate volunteer efforts on the ground, and that it would unnecessarily bypass a state’s government for approval.

In 1963, still under the Kennedy administration, the first legislation that would have created a National Service Corps or a Domestic Peace Corps barely passed in the Senate, and died in the House Rules Committee.

But in 1964 it finally passed as part of the Johnson administration’s War on Poverty, as a volunteer corps that would help to tackle poverty at the grassroots level, and at the invitation of local communities with the approval of state governors. Last night I read that the first group of VISTAs was received at the White House on Dec. 12, 1964 — exactly 45 years ago today.

Today VISTA is one branch of the AmeriCorps network of service corps overseen by the Corporation for National and Continue reading

CNCS Chief Nominee Corvington Clears Committee

Corvington, Obama's pick to lead CNCS

Patrick Corvington, Barack Obama’s pick to become the C.E.O. of the Corporation for National and Community Service, was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee earlier today.

His nomination may see the floor of the Senate as early as next week — if he’s supported there, he’ll be able to start his new job early in the new year.

It’s been over a year that David Eisner left his position at CNCS, when his Chief of Staff Nicola Goren stepped up to serve as Acting C.E.O. Last month Eisner assumed his new role at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, as its new President and CEO.

Corvington, who has been working in leadership development and nonprofit capacity building at the Annie E. Casey Foundation has a strong record of interest in next-generation social change leadership—for example, co-authoring studies Ready to Lead: Next Generation Leaders Speak Out and Next Shift: Beyond the Nonprofit Leadership Crisis, and supporting the work of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

Groups he’s been involved with like the social innovation fellowship Echoing Green and the nonprofit education organization American Humanics have soundly endorsed Obama’s choice to head CNCS. Read the CNCS press release announcing his nomination earlier this year.

In addition to overseeing the work of AmeriCorps programs, the Corporation may soon take on new responsibilities outline in the Kennedy Serve America Act that was signed into law earlier this year and is making its way through the Continue reading

Congress is Considering Final Action to Appropriate $400M for Peace Corps

More Peace Corps may be in the stars — and the budget.

Yesterday evening, Jonathan Pearson of the National Peace Corps Association’s Advocacy Program announced that According to Congressman Sam Farr, speaking tonight at an event in Washington to celebrate the Peace Corps, negotiations on the State/Foreign Operations Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bill have closed.

Farr says the final bill contains $400 million for Peace Corps — an impressive figure that falls in between what the House ($450M) and the Senate ($373M) recommended for the Peace Corps appropriation.

The Peace Corps Polyglot yesterday sounded optimistic that because of the amount of work that Congress needs to get done by December 18th, the $400 million figure is not likely to be amended.

Peace Corps advocacy groups like the National Peace Corps Association‘s More Peace Corps campaign, and the informal group Push for Peace Corps have been urging Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and other supporters to contact their elected representatives this week to voice their support for expanded Peace Corps funding.

Yesterday the NPCA sent a letter to President Obama asking him to increase his suggested Peace Corps budget for his 2011 budget request. That letter was signed by almost 60 RPCV affiliate groups.