1. Sign the Declaration of Service, and join with one million+ Americans to express your support for service
As we pause for reflection on this September 11th, AmeriCorps Alums asks that you spend a moment to reflect on the value of service, and its importance in your life and to America. And if you find that it carries value for you, as it does for millions of Americans, AmeriCorps Alums asks that you take less than 60 seconds to join with over a million other Americans in renewing the call to service by signing the Declaration of Service.
2. Participate in the ServiceNation Day of Action on Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thousands of communities around the nation will mobilize on September 27, the Day of Action, to demonstrate the impact that service has – and could have – upon our country and the power of citizens to create large scale change. Over 2,000 events are planned in all 50 states, and AmeriCorps Alums wants you to get involved in your community. To register or learn more, click here now.
Also see this post from Future Leaders in Philanthropy (FLiP).
Jean Case of the Case Foundation: bring the sectors together to change the conversation about national service and sustain the energy we’ve felt here. Introducing the CEO Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs. “It says something when one of the most powerful companies in the world works so hard to eliminate inequalities.”
Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs: Staff of Goldman Sachs are expected to volunteer with organizations they care about. People already come with a strong sense of service. People leaving the firm often go on to public service, so the corporate volunteer program at Goldman Sachs must be strong. One corporate engagement program, 10,000 Woman, is a program that enables business and management education for women in developing countries and the United States who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. Alligns with fundamental business of Goldman Sachs. Program develop curricula, works with professors, increases accessibility of business education. Includes Goldman Staff employees through its mentor-match connections to the women seeking business education. Another Goldman Sachs outreach area includes helping nonprofits through the Capacity Building Initiative and is launching a new enterprise, Leadership in Service, a daylong conference for nonprofit executives. Coming Spring 2009, with Case Foundation. Sessions on specific areas like board development, financial management, staff development, and program evaluation.
Anne S. Moore, Chairman and CEO of TIME Inc. Doesn’t play favorites among staff and sees amazing work come across her desk. It’s hard to knock her socks off. Occasionally her breath is taken away. “If you want to be happy for a lifetime, help other people” — quoting from a Rabbi’s advice to a newly married couple. Says Rick is her favorite editor today. Will support him in escalating the call to serve. Introduces Hillary Clinton.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Each of us can serve in a way that suits our talents and interests. Service Nation can make sure that the table of service in the United States can be big enough so that everyone can find a place. Many problems in the United States but with Service Nation’s leadership, we “can turn what is an American phenomenon and turn it into a great and growing movement.” AmeriCorps members turn a one-or-two year commitment into a lifetime of service. Bill Clinton says AmeriCorps is “one of his favorite accomplishments.” Clinton is proud to join the co-sponsorship on the Serve America Act. Also working on the U.S. Public Service Academy bill with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). Need more youth to consider public service. She says she was taught the importance of service in church and school as a youth, that she owed something back. She says she has been in service her entire life, and it has taught her a lot about herself. “A candle loses nothing of its light by lighting other candles” – quoting from Fr. James Keller. “What we are doing is going out and igniting tens of millions of other candles.” Every year her staff volunteers on 9/11 and helped kick off MyGoodDeed.org, founded by Jay Winuk in the spirit of his brother Glenn Winuk who lost his life when he went into a tower as a volunteer firefighter on 9/11 to help. Clinton says we are the beneficiaries of the American experiment and struggle against enemy forces. “I think it takes a village, and now it takes a nation….Service Nation, we are ready…”
Followed by…Jon Bon Jovi…”How am I supposed to follow that?” The rocker is optimistic that candidates are going to meet and exceed goals of Service Nation, with the help and support of Service Nation and its partners. Proud that his oldest daughter was present to hear Hillary Clinton speak. Bon Jovi was born “a year to the day” after the creation of the Peace Corps. His oldest daughter was born the year AmeriCorps was created. “You might remember me as a 26 year old with a guitar and a dream,” he says. You don’t have to be wealthy to tap into the “power of we.” He is now the co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football League team which serves its community in addition to playing football. The team takes on projects such as building homes and reclaiming troubled urban neighborhoods. “I want to make volunteerism the new black!” (If you don’t know, “the new black” means “the coolest thing ever.” I had to ask. In Portland we tend towards blues and greens I guess?)
Dr. Mehmet Oz, Founder of the privately funded service program HealthCorps, heart surgeon, author, and Oprah favorite! [Life altering side comment: I have met a really interesting woman Amy B. on the Service Nation media team, who works with Health Corps and knows Dr. Oz, who in turn works with and knows Oprah. I am two degrees of separation from Oprah. I LOVE Oprah. What a great day today is.] Service Nation has the right prescription, Dr. Oz says, in bringing the private sector and the public sector together. Introduces Arnold Schwarzenegger who joins us by satellite.
Arnold! Has promised not to leave California till the state budget is passed — apologizes for not being here in person. He and Maria are all “pumped up” over national service. He’s really funny and has made the audience laugh out loud several times in the first few minutes of his talk. Blunt and has good timing to boot. As a youth, his goals were simple: build a perfect body and then go to Hollywood to make movies. He says he never would have guessed he’d be happy doing service, working for no salary (he hasn’t accepted a salary from the state of California since becoming governor). He started out serving people to “pump them up” but they pumped him up! Wasn’t making a million dollars, but “felt like a million dollars.” Says the Kennedy influence brought him into service. (His wife, journalist Maria Shriver, is the daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver who was active with the Special Olympics movement, and Sargent Shriver the first director of Peace Corps. She is also a niece of late President John F. Kennedy.) Going “from one thing to the next,” he got involved with fitness and exercising as a public health issue. Now he loves being a governor, to get up every morning to think “What can I do for these millions of people?” Sometimes government gets in the way. For example, volunteers couldn’t work on union-protected projects till he helped changed the law to pave the way for volunteers to serve. Today he tells his children (with a weight my parents could not have had if they had told me) that they can be millionaires if they want, but that they should reserve a place on their resumes for service. He also was the first governor to elevate the California commissioner on voluntary action and and service, Jesuit Volunteer Corps Alumnae Karen Baker, to a cabinet-level post. (New York governor David Patterson announced last night that he planned to do the same.)
With the conclusion of Schwarzenegger’s speech, Emily Cherniack of Be the Change Inc. thanked sponsors and partners, and the historic event concluded with the audience and volunteers enjoying a networking period.
Notes from the panel discussion Building Bi-Partisan Support
See the Change/Wire post 10/29/08.
Friday afternoon, I attended a session on Building Bi-Partisan Support for national service.
RPCV Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT): Service alters your life in ways you can’t imagine, and the lives of the people you serve. Domestic service isn’t just about doing good and feeling good. It’s practical. For every dollar put out through national service, we save four or five dollars. The provider, the community, the tax-payer all benefit. That is how we convince Congress.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY): When she was first a member of Congress (after 30 years as a nurse), she started out serving in a committee that she was elected to, but that she didn’t know that much about. Started to look at re-authorizing the Give Act, she was amazed because she didn’t know that it existed. She knew a lot of people who were giving their time but they weren’t communicating among each other. Legislation is impossible without bipartisan support.
Rob Portman, Former Republican Congressional Representative from Ohio and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget. We must publicize ways to measure the value of service. Must demonstrate the value when there are competing priorities and a deficit. Government leverages service and volunteerism. Provides matching grants to coalitions. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have served. We have results. For example in Cincinnati, the anti-drug campaign has been successful. If AmeriCorps were a government program from Washington it wouldn’t have worked. Because of the grassroots ownership AmeriCorps is successful.
passion.) She says she is a return on that Federal investment in communities (national service funding). Says her job on the panel is to be the living testimony of the value of national service. “It’s a conversation worth having.” When she found Public Allies New York, she was aging out of foster care, held down a $5.15 an hour job, was going to be homeless — again — because she couldn’t afford to rent a place. Public Allies bridged the gap between foster care and her public service career. Public Allies helped her learn to serve her community. Annie E. Casey Foundation consultant serving three county sites working on foster care issues. (Throughout the Summit, the most impressive speakers have been the national service alumni, from Mallory Josol, to Chris Dodd, to Giselle. Nice going, Alums!)
AnnMaura Connolly, Sr. Vice President, Public Policy and Special Initiatives, City Year. How we build support is by sharing stories, understanding the impact on the Corps members as well as the people they serve. We haven’t done a good enough job of sharing stories of participants and communities. During times when AmeriCorps funding has been threatened, it clearly revealed what would happen if AmeriCorps funding were pulled out. An example is Giselle John telling her story. Alumni can tell their story more powerfully than anyone else.
Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) Don’t give up on Republicans because it won’t happen without them. If any party should promote public service, it should be Republicans. Rush Lumbaugh scoffs at the idea of paying volunteers; he feels if you pay them they won’t do it for free. But look at alumni and what they are doing. One paid volunteer can leverage thousands of unpaid volunteers. Don’t assume members of Congress know what you are talking about with respect to how national service works and how AmeriCorps is funded. Show respect and explain it to them.
Moderator: At the Republican National Convention, day two was “Service Day” and day three was “Mock Community Organizing Day.” As McCain pointed out at the Service Nation Summit Presidential Forum, Columbia University encourages some service but doesn’t have on-campus opportunities to choose Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Is the bi-partisan support problem that of language? Can we come up with a definition of service that can resonate with all of us?
Carolyn McCarthy called the nonprofit sector the knitting of the community. So as a member of Congress she works with nonprofits. If national service proponents can win over the Congressional staff, the staff will get to the Member of Congress. Everyday McCarthy said she would go across the aisle and explain what she was trying to do to Republicans, until they began to understand and come on board.
Chris Dodd said it’s not about how you vote (in agreement with, or against) another Senator, it’s about the relationship with another Senator. A disappointment these days is that Congress can’t functions on a level of community because the community doesn’t have time to build. It used to Senators got paid for one round trip home per year, and because of that, they got to know others in the Senate. He said, you went to Washington and you stayed. Now people come in for part of the week and fly home; they don’t know each other that well. (This statement makes me wonder: When did this start to change; can we trace the current gridlock we see currently to this trend?) Fast food analogy: if two major fast food chains destroy each other by running constant commercials about how unhealthy and disgusting each other’s food is, all that happens is the industry of fast food will self-destruct. No one would want to eat fast food anymore. Same thing is happening in politics. People are losing their interest in either side.
Moderator: The Corporation for National and Community Service recently released a study that show that two-thirds of AmeriCorps Alums have entered nonprofit and public sector careers. Does this trend resonate with both sides?
AnnMaura Connolly says we need people in every sector who understand community issues. Private companies, academia, etc.
Moderator: In a time of rising deficits, how do we make national service a must-fund agenda?
Rob Portman says that we use national service to meet needs we have to meet anyway, in a more cost effective way.
Chris Dodd says that the government merely creates the architecture so that volunteer work can be rewarded. It’s a mosaic of organizations that grows and manages the programs rather than the government trying to manage everything.
After the Town Hall, Chris Dodd was to speak:
Chris Dodd, in his opening remarks, says that he has spoken with Ted Kennedy and that Kennedy apologizes for not being here. Dodd announces that he has signed on as a co-sponsor of the Servce America Act. Our candidates are stronger because they have served their country: McCain in the military, and Obama in his community. Their examples of service remind us that who or how or where you serve, but that you serve. Sited the value to his life and values of his own Peace Corps service. Founded the bipartisan National Service Congressional Caucus in the Senate and introduced the Summer of Service legislation. We can’t write a check at all of our problems, but we can invest more in service. We spend in Iraq on one day what we spend all year on AmeriCorps and Peace Corps. We must translate our ideas into action, and change our country. Talk about what we can and must do as a nation, and the role national service plays in helping us accomplish our goals.
In an interview after the speech, Dodd said that we aren’t emphasizing enough how well the investment national service programs leverages community volunteers and resources, and facilitates the growth of strong communities, that would be far more expensive without national service Corps members. When I asked him about the challenge of keeping the spotlight on national service, he said he was committed to doing his part in the Senate and pointed to his emphasis on the movement during his presidential campaign this year.
Also see Building Bi-Partisan Support, a panel discussion with Dodd, following Dodd’s speech.
Follow tweets by RocchiJulia.
Moderated by David Gergen, Senior Political Analyst at CNN and advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. In his opening remarks, Gergen says this is the most hopeful movement he’s seen since the civil rights movement.
Kirsch was part of the founding of Public Allies. Says Eli Segal would be proud of the bipartisan support of national service we have been witnessing during the Summit. Emphasis on public-private partnership. We can actually solve problems with the human capital invested through national service! Teach For America used to be a small idea, and now tens of thousands of top college graduates are applying. Need to scale up national service to meet the desire to serve.
Gergen: how do you mobilize this many people to sign up? (Kennedy and Hatch’s Serve America Act would authorize the funding of 250,000 national service slots.)
Michelle Nunn says Kennedy-Hatch bill includes many different types of service: national service, community volunteering, international service. Coalition includes all sectors, faith-based groups, and more to work together to “make the bill a reality.”
Usher: Youth have always been on the fore-front of change. Youth leaders need a sense of ownership. Incentives may include scholarships. (Soft spoken but then says he’s nervous! Audience cheers him on.) Youth are engaged by leaders who lead example. Not “this is what you should do” but “this is what we will do together.”
Mallory Josol: (She is so young, and so, so well-spoken!) It’s important to have leaders call on youth to serve, but it’s more important to live the example. Youth will answer the call to service if they know about the opportunities. Need is all over the country, youth are all over the country. Josol says she is from a zip code “of need.” You don’t have to be wealthy to serve.
Lt. Gen. Freakley: Programs, civilian or military, offer youth opportunities to serve and to realize their potential. Not organized on the internet! Have to get into social networking! Bring military retirees into the process: they can plan, they can execute, they can train!
Gergen: Where does government fit in?
Kirsch: Middle way. Not about big government or just the private sector. Government, philanthropists both partners. Citizens elevate programs, government invests. AmeriCorps is a network of organizations, succeeding with capital invested from the government. Not “big government.” Most organizations that receive AmeriCorps funding are otherwise private-sector funded for the most part.
Freakley: Move youth from entitlement to empowerment. We adults have given them a sense of entitlement. When they feel empowered, they will serve.
Participant: It’s a religious experience being here. Largest coalition of bipartisan support for service. Serve America Act is an appropriations bill. May compete with labor bill. Can we build an even broader coalition so that we don’t do harm but instead to good?
Freakley: Need Public Service Academy to train people to serve in public sector and alumni who can speak out for service.
Harris Wofford steps up to the microphone on the ballroom floor: The reason Kennedy and Shriver were confident that Peace Corps could grow to 100,000 is because the original CCC employed 500,000. AmeriCorps is primarily a nonprofit sector endeavor. Seed funding from government.
Film tribute to those whose lives were personally affected by the tragic events of Sept. 11th, 2001, created by the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.
National anthem! Melinda Doolittle from American Idol Season Six. BIG soft spot in my heart for Melinda Doolittle.
Vartan Gregorian, Service Nation Co-chair and President of the Carnegie Corporation speaks. Giving is part of our culture. Low income families give four percent of income to charities. Three-quarters of Americans give an average of $1800. annually. Democracy is not a spectator sport, we have to work to make it a success, we should praise people who serve as elected officials. Benefits of our society oblige us to return the favor. “It’s in giving that we receive” – St. Francis. Become a true citizen through giving. “Live out our passions lest we be judged as not having lived at all” (missed who the paraphrased quotation is from).
Laurie Tisch of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund introduced NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Mayor Bloomberg speaks. “When you talk about volunteerism, America needs us,” including military service members who are putting their life on the line for us. We are the beneficiaries of their service. Their families suffer the loss. Service can respond to issues such as global warming. In NY they are planting a million trees. Converting city government, schools, own home to CFL bulbs.
First Lady Laura Bush speaks. Talks about engaging older adults volunteering by mentoring and tutoring youth. Cites examples of national service participants. “We can build an America with 100 million volunteers.” (I apologize for the brief paragraph but I inadvertently missed the first part of her talk. See the text from the White House Press Office. )
Hearing from representatives of different programs:
City Year Philadelphia alum Leon McClain speaks about regretful choices he made to give into peer pressure, and ended up with two bullets in his leg, but turned his life around when he joined City Year. Talks about a student Ray he worked with and the feeling of satisfaction he gets from knowing he made a difference.
Walter Atwood, alum of original Civilian Conservation Corps, upon which AmeriCorps*NCCC is based.
Antonio Ramirez, Youthbuild alum, crediting AmeriCorps with helping him become his family’s first Associates of Arts (AA) degree holder. Has an infant daughter, and he’s proud to be able to create a good future for her and his family.
Brianna O’Brien, Hands On Network staff who served in New Orleans after Katrina.
Carolyn Kennedy (daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy) introduced Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Kennedy’s uncle Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Hatch have worked together on issues for a long time in the Senate together.
Hatch officially announced the bill this morning at the Service Nation Summit and spoke touchingly of his work with Kennedy across the aisle. The senators have worked together for a long time and Hatch’s affection for his friend was obvious and endearing. (Kennedy was convalescing at home.)
In a statement that drew enthusiastic applause, Hatch announced that both Senators McCain and Obama have signed on to co-sponsor the legislation! To the bi-partisan crowd, all supporters of national service, the support of both Presidential candidates means a lot. Hopes are high for national service and the next administration. Other co-sponsors include Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), and RPCV Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).
In an interview with Hatch after his speech, he addressed a question about the cost to government of national service. The bill, he said, “should please those who are concerned about cost.” He cited the relatively low cost of supporting trained volunteers compared to the cost of allowing high schoolers to drop out, and ignoring young people who have lost their role models to prison and worse fates. Further, according to Hatch, elevating these youth, educating them, and connecting them with job skills will serve the economy well, as will the creation of jobs, including in the energy industry.
After the morning line up of speakers, the gathering broke into panel discussions. See the schedule here.