January is National Mentoring Month

Be The Change, Mentor a Child

From Change/Wire:

“ServiceNation is partnering with the Harvard School of Public Health, and Mentor, to promote one of the most rewarding, important, activities we can all do to help build a better future: mentoring. We are doing it because January is National Mentoring Month, and here’s how you can get involved. Thanks to the brilliant Jay Winsten at Harvard, the ad [to the left] will run in Newsweek and other publications. The fact that we got clearance from President-elect Obama to use him in the ad caught the attention of the New York Times, here. We are hoping to be able to run a video ad, too. Stay tuned. And while you do, go ahead and sign up for some mentoring!”

Search volunteer mentoring opportunities on Idealist.org.

Follow BeTheChangeInc on Twitter.

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Michelle: the Public Allies Connection

Biography of Michelle Obama offers insights into her work with Public Allies.picture-161

Liza Mundy has recently published her biography of the future first lady called Michelle: A Biography.

USA Today excerpted the book earlier this month. Below are some pieces of that excerpt, regarding both Obamas’s work with the national service corps Public Allies.

If Michelle was helpful to Barack, the converse was also true. In the early 1990s, Barack was on the founding board of Public Allies, a new nonprofit whose mission was to train young people to work in the nonprofit sector, with the hope of producing a fresh generation of public service leaders. The Chicago branch needed an executive director, and Obama suggested Michelle. In 1993, she was hired. Barack resigned from the board before she took over. …

According to Julian Posada, her deputy director at Public Allies, Michelle was as hardworking as her husband. Public Allies would soon become part of the Clinton administration’s AmeriCorps program, and she was determined that the Chicago branch would succeed and excel, which it did. Among other things, she was a zealous money raiser, and left the organization, three years after starting, with cash in the bank. “There was an intensity to her that — you know, this has got to work, this is a big vision, this isn’t easy,” recalls Posada. “Michelle’s intensity was like: we have to deliver.” He was impressed with her sleeves-up attitude. “I’m sure she came from a lot more infrastructure. There was no sense that this was a plush law firm, that’s all gone. It’s like, ‘Who’s going to lick envelopes today?’ Nothing was beneath her.”

One of the first orders of business was recruiting “allies,” young people who picture-17would spend ten months working in homeless shelters, city offices, public policy institutes, and other venues for public service. Allies were recruited from campuses and projects alike. Michelle knocked on doors in Cabrini Green, a notoriously rough public housing project, but also phoned friends to ask if they knew any public-spirited undergrads at Northwestern. “We would get kids from a very very lily-white campus to come sit down with inner-city kids, black, Hispanic, Asian,” says Posada. In addition to recruiting and managing allies, she had to raise funds from Chicago’s well-established foundations, competing with more established charities. As such, she had to be in touch with the old-money world of private philanthropy and the no money world of housing projects, moving easily between almost every world that existed in Chicago. …

Many allies found Michelle inspiring. “You kind of know when you’re in the presence of somebody who is really terrific,” says Jobi Petersen, who was in the first class of Chicago Allies. “I owed a lot to her. She’s really fair, she’s calm, she’s smart, and she’s balanced and she’s funny, she doesn’t take any crap. I get a little bit angry when I hear the thing about her being negative. She is the least negative person I’ve ever met. She is a can-do person.” Peterson remembers a time when “one of the allies was despairing about how difficult things were, or the world wasn’t bending their way, and [Michelle] would come back and say, ‘You know what, today you have to get up and do something you don’t love doing. If it’s helping people, it’s worth it.’ She had a way of making you feel you could do anything. Humor, personal style, warmth, she can be strong and tough and not come across as nega-tive. She’s got timing. She can pass you one look and you’d laugh.”

Public Allies has enjoyed the spotlight since the election due to its history with the Obamas in Chicago. Paul Schmitz, the program’s C.E.O., serves on the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform working group for President-Elect Obama’s transition team.

Public Allies is a 10-month service and leadership program that serves in 15 cities across the United States.  Corps members — called “Allies” — serve with nonprofits and universities to “create, improve and expand services that address diverse issues, including youth development, education, public health, economic development and the environment.”

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Shays for top Peace Corps post?

picture-21Support emerges for outgoing Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) to fill Peace Corps director role under the new administration.

Shays served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji (1968-70) and has been a career-long advocate of citizen service.

The entire Connecticut delegation to Congress is rallying for Shays to get the post, after Rep.-Elect Jim Hines (D) initially spoke out for Shays. From the blog at TheHill.com:

“As I’ve noted many times, Chris Shays is a man of grace and courage who served the Fourth District well for many years,” Himes said. “As a former Peace Corps volunteer and a strong believer in America’s special obligation to work toward peace and freedom, Congressman Shays would do a wonderful job of representing our country to those nations of the world served by the Peace Corps.”

Himes recently defeated Shays in a re-election bid for Shay’s congressional seat.

Recently the National Peace Corps Association — currently waging a campaign for More Peace Corps — sent an open letter to President-Elect Obama asking for a Peace Corps director with direct experience as a Peace Corps staffer or Volunteer. Read more about their recommendations (PDF).

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Obama site for MLK Day events

President-Elect Obama’s inaugural team invites organizations to post their MLK Day events to the inauguration website.

This coming year, MLK Day falls on January 19th, the day before the 2009 Inauguration. Known as a “day on not a day off” and a popular day for organizing direct-service events, President-Elect Barack Obama is encouraging people to serve in their communities MLK Day and beyond.

Organizers of projects are invited to post their projects on the event registration page on the inauguration site. If you are an organizer and you’ve already posted your event on MLKDay.gov, you are asked to wait to cross post; the aim is for MLKDay.gov events to be migrated to the Inauguration site.

Community members will be able to search for local projects after the New Year. Here is analysis from the Huffington Post; below is the text of the invitation:

Every time our nation faces crisis, our national experience has shown Americans rise to the challenge. While government has an important role to play in helping rekindle our economy and addressing the problems of a distressed nation, President-elect Obama believes each of us, as Americans, have a responsibility to do what we can for our communities and fellow citizens.  We are one nation….

As a tribute to that legacy and the very real needs of our nation, the President-elect and Vice President-elect will launch a national organizing effort on the eve of their Inauguration to engage Americans in service. This national day of service will fall on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 19, 2009 and, unlike past calls to service, President-elect Obama will ask Americans to do more than just offer a single day of service to their cities, towns and neighborhoods.  He will ask all of us to make an ongoing commitment to our communities. …

The call will go to all Americans to organize service projects and join others at events in their communities. As the Co-chairs of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, we invite you and your organization to join other Americans to organize service projects in your communities. The Presidential Inaugural Committee will offer Americans a new website to help promote your events and for Americans to make their commitments, build communities, find opportunities to serve and share their results. These can be events that orient people to your organization’s work, engage people in direct service, or bring people together to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy and how they can commit to becoming more engaged citizens.

The official place to post and search for projects is on the MLKDay.gov site. Read more about resources for running a great project.

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Indicorps – Opportunities for the Indian Diaspora

Indian service program recruits people of Indian family background, from all around picture-15the world, to commit to service in India. Indicorps is now recruiting interns to start January 2009.

Indicorps encourages aspiring young leaders of the Indian Diaspora to engage in intense grassroots development opportunities that explore the promise of leadership and help leverage their skills and talents to address India’s pressing needs.

The organization encompasses several programs, including Volunteer Ahmedabad (VA!), capitalizing on the spirit of volunteerism of Ahmedabad citizens; Ahmedabad Ultimate, promoting the spirit of fair play and competition through Frisbee; and the flagship Indicorps Fellowship Program. The Fellowship emphasizes public service and personal growth, seeking to nurture and inspire a new brand of socially conscious leaders through structured one – and two-year grassroots service opportunities in India.

Interns — who do not have to be of Indian origin — support the “backbone” of the U.S. and Ahmedabad-based Indicorps, strengthening organizational capacity and growing initiatives, and interacting with many people in the NGO sector in India. While not a field-based internship, interns serve a critical role in supporting fellows, encouraging others to serve, and effecting change. The internship offers weekly, structured learning opportunities, an off-site service requirement in a rural community,  and a chance to work across programs.

Interns receive a one-week group orientation (including housing) and assistance in finding housing for the duration of the internship if necessary. The orientation includes an introduction to the city of Ahmedabad and to the NGO sector.

Internship openings right now include:

  • Marketing and brand management: Indicorps seeks a marketing/brand management professional to assist Indicorps strengthen its inspirational messaging in India through Indicorps and related programs.
  • Alumni outreach: Indicorps seeks an individual to help structure an Alumni Association that functions independently, but is closely linked to Indicorps as a host organization.
  • Technology: Indicorps seeks a self-proclaimed technology wizared to help stay on the cutting edge of operating and outreach technology, using its current resources efficiently.
  • Ultimate Frisbee: Ahmedabad Ultimate seeks four coaches to coordinate, publicize, and host month-long summer camps during school summer vacation from April-May 2009. (Internship lasts 5-6 months, through May.)
  • Publications: Indicorps seeks a publications intern interested in helping the organization self-publish an anthology that inspires people through stories of Fellows’s experiences in the field.

Most internships are flexible, unpaid, last 4-6 months, and do not require special visas. (You may still need a visa to enter India.) Read more Frequently Asked Questions. Look for news about 2009 Fellowship applications, coming soon.

Indicorps founder Sonal Shah co-chairs the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform working group for President-Elect Obama’s transition team. She’s an economist and heads Google.org’s global development efforts. Also serving on that working group are Paul Schmitz, Public Allies C.E.O., and Cheryl Dorsey, Echoing Green executive director.

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