Announcing the IANYS 9th Global Conference on National Youth Service

Guest post by ICP Intern Christina Sewell

Calling all Civic Engagement Enthusiasts!

The International Association for National Youth Service Invites You to its 9th Global Conference on National Youth Service in Alexandria, Egypt this October


The International Association for National Youth Service (IANYS) is pleased to announce that its 9th Global Conference on National Youth Service will take place at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library of Alexandria) in Alexandria, Egypt, from October 25-28, 2010.

The Conference will be organized in partnership with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy & Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP), the IANYS Secretariat.

This global event is designed for organizations and individuals interested in creating high-quality youth service programs, advocating for government support in this endeavor, and/or undertaking evaluations and research of Continue reading

Freeze Home-Cooked Food, Save Money!

Imagine a frozen TV dinner consisting of seasonal vegetables, a hearty soup and a homemade entrée ready in 5 minutes —that you made!

Convenient food? Check.

Fresh food? Check.

Healthy and Budget-Conscious Food? Of course.

Cooking and freezing foods in bulk allows for easy, inexpensive, and healthy eating throughout a hectic workweek. Try these following tips and meal ideas instead of wasting money on store-bought prepared foods, other convenient foods with questionable ingredients, or soon-to-spoil foods in your fridge.

#1: Base your cooking around seasonal foods.

Buy fresh vegetables and fruits during their natural harvest season for optimal taste, texture, and nutrient levels. I, myself, am learning which foods are best during which season. For seasonal food lists, try online sources or visit your local Continue reading

Senate Recognizes VISTA’s 45th Anniversary

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution honoring the work of Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), for its 45 years of work towards alleviating poverty, and other accomplishments.

Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-VA) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) introduced the resolution (S.Res.449), and were joined by several co-sponsors. Rockefeller first lived in West Virginia as a VISTA, when he was 27 years old.

The resolution recognizes the more than 175,000 VISTAs who have served since 1965, and their creation of “many successful and sustainable community initiatives, including Head Start centers, credit unions, and neighborhood watch groups.” The resolution honors VISTAs’s work on diverse poverty-related issues such as health care, technology, crime/recidivism, housing, and literacy. The resolution also highlights these numbers:

  • 7,000 VISTAs serve each year
  • Annually, VISTAs bring in $100 million in cash and in-kind donations to their organizations
  • Also each year, VISTAs recruit 1 million volunteers who engage in 10 million hours of volunteer service.

Read the entire Senate resolution here. Oddly, the House introduced a similar bill (H.RES.1152) last week, but it wasn’t passed; instead it’s been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.

According to a statement today from the Corporation for National and Community Service, which operates VISTA, the resolution marks the official kick off of VISTA’s 45th anniversary celebration — a series of events and celebrations that will take place this year.

Celebrations will include a photography exhibit of VISTA photography from 1968, an effort to collect and share stories of VISTAs, and I’ll be launching a podcast episode featuring three VISTAs who’ve served across the decades during AmeriCorps Week in May.

Are you a VISTA or former VISTA? How will you commemorate the 45th anniversary of the organization?

What Happens When Life Issues Become Legal Issues?: National Service as a Solution to the Justice Gap

Justice Corps member DeAndre

Contributed by guest blogger Martha Wright, Senior Court Services Analyst for the California Administrative Office of the Courts and Statewide Co-Director of the California JusticeCorps, an AmeriCorps program that places diverse university students to assist overburdened courts with supporting self-represented litigants.

Nowhere is the effect of the current economic downturn more visible than in the halls of our nation’s courthouses.

Just as budget cuts are forcing courts to close their doors one or more days a month and furlough or even downsize staff, caseloads spurred by economic hardship are on the rise.

The legal issues proliferating these days involve tenants evicted because their landlord is in foreclosure; marriages pushed beyond the breaking point; collection notices on bills that can’t be paid; or loss of health insurance due to a lay off.

The Justice Gap

These life problems gone unresolved often become legal problems. And without the means to hire professional Continue reading

Celebrating Women, Celebrating Civic Engagement: A message from Queen Rania of Jordan

Guest post by Talloires Network Intern Alissa Brower. Cross-posted from the Talloires Network blog.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, this article places a spotlight on one female leader who has had a great deal of influence on civic engagement in the Middle East. Recently, the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy & Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo hosted Jordan’s Queen Rania Al-Abdullah who spoke to students about their impact in society and the difference they can make in the larger community.

The objective of Queen Rania’s speech was to encourage students to realize the kind of difference they can make in society and take advantage of attending a university that provides support for civic engagement and community service.

Her majesty started her speech with a story that symbolizes where civic engagement and understanding can start. The story itself can be considered a celebration of women making a difference in the world, as it involves a young girl who wanted to change the living conditions of a less fortunate community. The story begins with Raghda visiting an elderly community outside of central Cairo. Raghda met a woman who invited the girl into her home. What Raghda saw when she Continue reading

Emerging Corps: Blue Engine’s Nick Ehrmann

Blue Engine's Nick Ehrmann

The New Service podcast show features a service program tackling the challenges of college completion for students from low income families. Blue Engine is now accepting applications for its 2010-11 corps.

In 2010, a new national service corps is getting off the ground. Blue Engine, based in New York City, aims to recruit a corps of about a dozen fellows for the 2010-2011 school year to facilitate daily, differentiated, small-group instruction for high school freshmen.

Our guest is Nick Ehrmann—Blue Engine’s engine and a Teach For America alum— who says that we know how to get high-needs kids into college, or getting them “college eligible” — nonprofits and schools have been targeting and tackling hurdles like high school completion, college admissions, and financial assistance.

But, while the high school drop-out problem is far from solved, groups are paying far less attention to college completion rates for high-needs kids, or “college readiness.”

Blue Engine aims to close the gap between college eligibility and college readiness.

After graduating from Northwestern University in 2000, Ehrmann began his career in education as a Teach for America corps member in Washington D.C. In 2002, he joined forces with local philanthropists to launch the nonprofit “I Have a Dream” Project 312, a youth development program for Nick’s fourth-grade students. In the fall of 2003, he began doctoral work in sociology at Princeton University as a William G. Bowen fellow.

Over the past three years, Nick spent months shadowing his former students in high school classrooms, living with their families, and conducting extensive interviews in the local community, where he has witnessed firsthand the negative effects of academic underperformance on the transition from high school to college. His dissertation—Yellow Brick Road—is scheduled for defense in the spring of 2010.

Idealist’s Amy Potthast talks with Nick about the Blue Engine fellowship, its application deadlines (March 10 and April 28, 2010); the gap between college eligibility and true college readiness; and why it’s crucial to expect more out of high schoolers in order to prepare them for high school and college success, and beyond.

Listen to the show here.

AmeriCorps Connect Launches – New Site to Help You Access AmeriCorps Stuff

Today, the Corporation for National and Community Service announced the launch of its new web portal, AmeriCorps Connect — a one-stop shop for frequently-used national service content.

Frequent visitors to other national service sites like NationalService.gov and AmeriCorps.org will notice that AmeriCorps Connect’s homepage is less-text heavy.

The home page features three types of links, explained this way in today’s announcement:

LEARN includes links to resources designed to help you with the day-to-day aspects of your job such as grant management, member management, and service-related activities.

CONNECT includes social media and other tools, including a wiki to help you collaborate with your staff, partners, and other stakeholders. Use it to create and edit shared documents or other project communications. Subscribe to an AmeriCorps e-mail list, or check out the upcoming national service events Continue reading