Shirley Sagawa’s New Book Sees Citizen Engagement as a Solution

By Put Barber, editor of the Nonprofit FAQ on

Shirley Sagawa has been a source of creative energy for the growing national service movement in the United States for 20 years – from serving on Senator Ted Kennedy’s staff when the first tentative steps towards AmeriCorps were accepted by President George H. W. Bush, to cheering on the day President Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in Washington, DC last spring.

Her recent book, The American Way to Change: How National Service and Volunteers are Transforming America, builds on this experience to document the reasons for the success of this idea. It offers accounts of the positive impacts service has had on participants. It shows the ways the rapid growth in their numbers has made possible both expansion of needed services and brave experiments with new ways to address enduring challenges facing individuals and communities. And it talks about a future in which the engagement of active citizens could—and, if she has anything to say about it, will—“solve the seemingly intractable problems holding back this country from achieving its full potential.”

I had a chance to catch a small glimpse of all this a few days ago when I represented Continue reading

VISTA Career Transitions Featured on Social Media Monday

The upcoming Social Media Monday webshop focuses on the career transition, especially for AmeriCorps VISTAs.

Monday May 24th at noon Pacific, 3 pm Eastern, you can hop online and on the phone for a free web presentation featuring tools for your transition from VISTA.

Social Media Monday webshops (web-based workshops) are “virtual workshops for social change.” Monday’s webshop will focus on:

  • Plaxo, an online contact management and social networking tool that can help you stay in touch with the folks you work with currently as a VISTA, as you move onto your next steps — one of the most valuable, long-term effects of VISTA in your career and life will be the friendships and professional connections you’ve made this year. Plaxo isn’t just another e-rolodex, however. The contacts in your Plaxo network update their own information as they move along in their lives and careers — so you don’t have to. Plaxo also allows you to get all your social network updates in one place.

Learn more and register for Monday’s webshop: (free) Tools for Transitioning: Plaxo, Idealist & More.

Check out past Social Media Monday webshops — archived online — on the VISTA Campus (free login required).

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month Web Event: Diversity in Peace Corps

Diversity among Peace Corps Volunteer groups serving overseas is crucial to the success of the entire program — for many reasons. Peace Corps promotes person-to-person diplomacy, and aims to increase understanding among people of other countries about the United States. Without recruiting Volunteers who reflect the rich array of cultural and ethnic and racial heritages that make up U.S. communities, host country nationals in Peace Corps countries can’t begin to grasp the ways of life that exist here in the United States.

Tomorrow Peace Corps will highlight and celebrate the contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans in Peace Corps service. Last year, hundreds of Asian and Pacific Americans served as Peace Corps Volunteers, providing needed skill sets and services to Peace Corps host countries.

Returned Volunteer Mike Buff  — of South Korean descent — will host an online information session tomorrow Continue reading