GIVE Act Gets Robust Approval from the House Labor and Education Committee

Update, April 21, 2009: President Obama signs the Serve America Act into law. To take effect October 1, 2009.

March 11th, the House Education and Labor Committee approved H.R. 1388, the Generations InvigoratingVolunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act, on a 34-3 vote. The bill is expected to be sent to the full House for consideration during the week of March 16 and is the House companion bill to the Serve America Act (S. 277).

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Committee Chair

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Committee Chair

Chairman George Miller, Ranking Member Howard McKeon, Subcommittee Chair Rep. Carolyn McCarthy,  Rep. Todd Platts and others on the Committee issued a  Committee summary of the GIVE Act, outlined below:

“America is facing unprecedented challenges – the economy, health care, energy, schools in need of improvement and more. With our public needs intensifying in this recession, there’s no better time to support and energize community service and volunteerism to help our country get through this economic crisis, restore confidence and prepare our nation for the future. President Obama has called on Congress to create new opportunities for Americans to build a stronger country by helping students perform better in school, prepare Americans for green and innovative 21st century jobs, rebuild cities in times of disaster, improve communities and much, much more. This legislation answers his call. It will launch a new era of service that will give Americans of all ages an opportunity to invest through service in our nation’s recovery.”

Specifically, the House Education and Labor Committee’s bill will do the following things, as outlined by the Committee: Continue reading

Changes at

The America Serves section of the presidential transition website contains some new information.

There are short descriptions of Classroom Corps, Health Corps, and Clean Energy Corps. These programs are pretty much as you would expect. My big question had to do with Veterans Corps, as I wasn’t sure if this program would be made up of veterans or provide services to veterans. From the website, it appears to be the latter.

Another big development: According to the website, “…college students who engage in 100 hours of community service [are] to receive a fully-refundable tax credit of $4,000 for their education.” That’s pretty cool. One-hundred hours is easy enough for most students to be able to accomplish that goal, and $4,000 is enough to buy a good chunk of school (more than half of a full year’s tuition at most state schools).

I’m looking forward to hearing more!

Update 12/10: is now Open for Questions! Vote on issues most pressing for you and your family; submit questions of your own.

I checked out the presidential transition website today to see if I could find much about national service. Yikes, it’s a high enough priority that it even gets its own tab (“America Serves”) across the top of the page! There isn’t that much content yet (but that might change by the time you click your way there. I am hopeful that national service will be less of a White House pet project than one of the primary solutions to the many problems affecting the country.

To read more about Obama’s service initiatives, check out his pre-election stance. To read more about service programs currently available, including teaching corps, conservation corps, etc., check out our side bar — “corps and coalition,” categories, and tag cloud.

Obama, McCain, and the future of national service

Major party candidates and their plans for national service

(Update on 9/11/08: this article from Chronicle of Philanthropy about the two Senators records on national service.)

Whatever you think of Senators Obama and McCain and their political parties, you probably hope that each of them has something valuable to add to the conversation about national service — after all, one of them will be president soon, and service corps alumni stand to fill the looming public service leadership shortage created as the Baby Boomer generation retires.

Register so that you can vote on November 4.

Barack Obama on National Service

Obama’s plan is listed as an issue on his site, and is expansive: tripling AmeriCorps and doubling Peace Corps; creating new service corps on education, health care, clean energy & green jobs, veterans, and homeland security; and engaging baby boomers on a larger scale. Reading the plan, you get the idea that the stereotype of a national service participant will no longer be that of someone young and inexperienced, and in fact, that stereotypes no longer apply. Participants will represent a wide cross-section of the United States, people who come to a term-of-service opportunity for many reasons. Read more on his web site, or download the plan (PDF). (His plan also addresses military service.)

Note that some service corps programs such as Peace Corps are currently shrinking number of participants due to budget restrictions.

Video from Service Vote ’08:

Here is Obama speaking Sept. 11 as part of the Service Nation Summit:

John McCain on National Service

McCain‘s plan has not been easy to track down, though he has been supportive of AmeriCorps, and was the first of the two candidates to agree to speak at the Service Nation Summit. In 2001, he published this article in The Washington Monthly explaining his views on the topic. McCain worked with Senator Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) in 2001 to try to expand national service, but has said that the war in Iraq has pushed these efforts to the “sidelines.” And in 2003 McCain worked to ask President Bush not to cut funding of AmeriCorps. (For some analysis of McCain’s history on the topic of national service, read “Service Interruption” by Washington Monthly‘s Paul Glastris. Also check out Steve Benen on “McCain, Obama, and National Service.”)

Video from Service Vote ’08:

Here is the first part of McCain’s interview on Sept. 11 at the Service Nation Summit: