This week, RPCV Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced s.1382, the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009.
The bill, as currently written, would authorize $450,000,000 for fiscal year 2010; $575,000,000 for fiscal year 2011; and $700,000,000 for fiscal year 2012 — representing a gradual increase to double Peace Corps’s current budget. The bill also requires the agency director carry out assessments that lead to a new strategic plan. (As of now, Obama hasn’t appointed a new Peace Corps director, Jody Olsen serves as Acting Director.)
Read the legislation (PDF). After it was introduced, the bill was sent to the Committee on Foreign Relations. (Is your Senator a member of this committee?)
Here is the transcript of Dodd’s speech on the floor of the Senate Thursday. Thanks to Jonathan Pearson at the National Peace Corps Association for this text:
I rise today to introduce the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009.
For 48 years, the Peace Corps has stood as a uniquely American institution. What other great nation would Continue reading
When the various bills that became the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act were in play, there was talk about eliminating the taxes from the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.
In case you are new to national service, the education award is the post-service benefit received by AmeriCorps and VISTA members that can help them pay for educational expenses and/or student loans. It’s considered taxable income.
It was never the Kennedy bill but rather a separate bill introduced by Senator Dodd of Connecticut that would have ended the tax on the education award. Late in the process, elements of Dodd’s national service bills were incorporated into the Serve America Act. However, the elimination of the taxes on the education award was not one of those elements. The tax remains.
I called Senator’s Dodd office last week and asked a staffer if there were any plans to follow through with Continue reading
Today’s guest contributor is the ICP Summer of Service Fellow Joshua Truitt.
On Tuesday, April 21, 2009, President Obama took a tremendous stride toward supporting youth civic engagement in the United States by signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law. Included in the legislation is funding for a new innovative program called Summer of Service (SOS).
A national SOS program — to help communities create positive alternatives for middle school students during summer vacations — was first proposed by Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP), an organization committed to increasing youth service opportunities in the United States and abroad. In the summer months, the lack of constructive activities and opportunities for young people often results in academic decline, risky behavior and an increased likelihood of failing to make the transition to high school. Yet, when young people participate in service activities they are better able to control their own lives in a positive way, avoid risky behaviors, strengthen their community connections and become more engaged in their own education.
A national SOS will enable a large number of young teens to participate in service as a “rite of passage” from middle to Continue reading
Today, President Obama made the following remarks before signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.
The transcript was released by the Office of the White House Press Secretary. Re-play the signing and hear the speech for yourself on CSPAN.
Thank you. Please be seated. Thank you. Well, what an extraordinary day. It is good to be here with all of you.
I want to, first of all, thank President Bill Clinton for joining us here today — where’s President Clinton? — (applause) — for his lifetime of service to our country, but also the fact that he created AmeriCorps, and that not only made this day possible, it has directly enlisted more than half a million Americans in service to their country; service that has touched the lives of millions more.
Now, it just so happens that one of those people who have been touched by AmeriCorps was FLOTUS, otherwise known as First Lady of the United States — (laughter) — Michelle Obama, who ran a AmeriCorps-sponsored Continue reading
How branding national service as an opportunity only for young people does more harm to the movement than good.
Christian Witkin for TIME Magazine
While many service corps do have upper age limits — City Year, AmeriCorps*NCCC, Public Allies, and many other team-based programs — most programs do not have an upper age limit.
In fact, several programs specifically recruit professionals — Experience Corps, Atlas Corps, CUSO-VSO (the Canadian VSO), Volunteers for Prosperity, and United Nations Volunteers just to name a few. Others like Peace Corps and AmeriCorps*VISTA recruit almost entirely college graduates because of the skill required in carrying out service.
And yet when people speak of service they almost always describe it as an opportunity for young people to give back, receive scholarship money, develop leadership skills, and go an an adventure before settling down with a real job.
What difference does it make if most people think of national or international service as a pursuit for the young?
Here are some reasons:
If we assume only young people will enlist in a citizen service corps, we won’t recruit new corps members as creatively Continue reading