Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. with a day on, not a day off

featuredThis coming Monday, January 17th, is the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — a national day of service in the United States. Where will you volunteer your energy and time?

People across the country are kicking off the new year by creating, joining, or reporting on MLK Day service projects in their communities:

Every year I try take part in a service project. This Monday, my family is going to carry out our second annual DIY project Continue reading

Youth Civic Participation in Action: New publication highlights global momentum for youth civic participation across the world

Innovations in Civic Participation recently released a new publication providing brief snapshots of youth civic engagement programs and policies in 101 countries spanning six continents.

The report, Youth Civic Participation in Action: Meeting Community and Youth Development Needs Worldwide, builds on information ICP has gathered over the years from previous participants of the International Association for National Youth Service global conferences, from partners throughout the world and as part of various ICP projects.  The snapshots are not intended to be comprehensive, but instead provide a brief glimpse into how youth civic participation is taking shape in various countries.  The publication highlights the growing international movement in which more and more countries are supporting youth and community development by expanding youth civic participation opportunities.

Programs for civic participation can take many forms and work best when adapted to the needs and resources in the local community.  As a result, the snapshots in this publication describe programs ranging from intensive, highly-structured, government programs to infrequent volunteering with community-based organizations; from service-learning integrated into primary, secondary and university curricula to young people creating their own organizations to engage others in addressing issues that matter most to them.

This report demonstrates that young people worldwide are active in addressing the needs of their communities through service including medical students meeting health needs in rural areas in Latin America, young people supporting disaster relief efforts in Asia, service programs bolstering social services as an alternative to conscription in Europe, peer mentoring to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa and young people sparking grassroots campaigns for community development in the Middle East.

Throughout the world, young people are building their skills while meeting critical community needs through service. To learn more about these efforts, please browse through the snapshots on the publication website or view the full report. We will do our best to update the online space with new information as it becomes available. If you have news about youth civic participation programs or policies, please send it to me at Hammelman [at] icicp.org.

Community Shares Stories of Priceless AmeriCorps Service at the Northwest Service Academy Luncheon

A gathering to celebrate Northwest Service Academy.

Monday, 50 members of the extended Northwest Service Academy community gathered at the Lower Columbia Center here in Portland to share stories of the remarkable impact NWSA has had in the community and in their own lives. The gathering felt like a celebration and, frankly, a closing of sorts.

Last month the Corporation for National and Community Service declined NWSA’s proposal for continued funding, and we still aren’t sure why. The organization has been operating an environmentally-focused AmeriCorps program for 16 years that has brought together a who’s who of sustainability organizations, people, and projects in a region renowned for its environmental values. NWSA AmeriCorps members have built countless and far-reaching social and environmental programs.

Unfortunately, the guest of honor for the occasion Ruth Lampie, the program officer from the Corporation for National and Community Service, had arrived in town for her site visit but was too busy preparing for her site visit to attend the summer BBQ in her honor during the lunch hour. The announcement came about 30 minutes into the scheduled luncheon.

Among the speakers at Monday’s event were Idealist’s first Portland intern Bob Potter, Kathy Dang a program manager at Oregon Tilth — the organics certifier — and Katy Kolker, executive director of the Portland Fruit Tree Project which she launched as an NWSA member several years ago.

Without complaining, the gathered community went on with sharing stories and celebrating the remarkable accomplishments of NWSA.

Here are summaries of the stories community members shared:

Bob Potter, NWSA Alum

An NWSA alum, and Idealist’s first Portland office intern Bob Potter spoke.  Bob is the Assistant Director of Operations for the Cascadia Region Green Building Council. As an NWSA corps member several years ago, Bob served two terms, first as a field team member working with an at-risk youth group in Clackamas County and secondly as the volunteer programs coordinator for The ReBuilding Center, a reuse/reclaim program at Our Continue reading

Idealist.org Grad Fairs in DC and New York this Week!

For folks seeking graduate school options, check out our first two graduate admissions fairs of 2010 this week on the East Coast.

Both events feature 60 public interest graduate schools and 6 pm panel discussion. Admission is free!

New York City — June 15th

Tuesday, June 15, 2010, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (check out the schedule)Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus, Pope Auditorium
113 West 60th Street, New York, NY (directions)

Washington, DC — June 16th

Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (check out the schedule)
American University, Katzen Arts Center, Main Rotunda, First Floor
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, D.C. (directions)

More…

Check out more grad school resources on Idealist!

Also take a look at which grad schools are…

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?

Where will you Volunteer on MLK Day, Jan. 18th?

A group of City Year Young Heroes during their 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service project at Emery Elementary School in Washington, DC

January 18th is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day — a national day of service. Where will you volunteer your energy and time?

For 15 years, MLK Day has been a national day of service, mobilizing projects that strive to transform Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community service that helps solve social problems — strengthening communities, bridging barriers, and empowering individuals.

The day of service, which is known as a “day on, not a day off,” typically enjoys a great deal of support and participation among national service corps—who volunteer for and often organize service projects.

This year organizers are launching a special initiative to connect schools in need with technology support. If you serve in a school that could use tech support — anything from a website facelift to blogging support for student clubs — you can post a volunteer opportunity on AllForGood.org:

When you create your volunteer opportunity, be sure to:

  1. Use a descriptive title and make sure to include the “MLKTech” keyword – the keyword is necessary for search.
  2. Set the date as January 18, 2010

Web professionals can search for opportunities on Serve.gov.

Learn more and find opportunities to serve on the Serve.gov and  MLKDay.gov sites. Also check out yesterday’s Change/Wire post from Service Nation, chock full of MLK Day resources.

Check out Hands On Network’s MLK Day page, including the virtual Town Hall Meeting it will hold on January 18th.

Already planning a project? Be sure to register it so that people in your community will find out how to support it!

Last year, inspired by Barack Obama’s call to service, MLK Day enjoyed the largest turnout in its history. On January 19, 2009, service projects numbered about 13,000 (compared to 5,000 in 2008), and the Corporation for National and Community Service estimated the total number of volunteers at a million.

Check out this video with more information about MLK Day:

Make a Difference Day

Today marks Make a Difference Day, when volunteers and national service members take on community service projects across the country.

Every October, on the fourth Saturday, people implement service projects to improve their communities — anything from “beautification” projects to improve the grounds of schools, urban areas, and public gardens to canvassing neighborhoods door to door on behalf of breast cancer awareness (October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

In many places, national service groups are encouraged to lead community volunteers in special one-day projects in addition to their regular service assignments. For example, this weekend:

For service project leaders today and everyday, check out these discussion prompts that help volunteers reflect on their service experience and connect their efforts to social impact careers.