CNN iReport Features City Year’s New York Corps

Jairo and Brittany

Jairo and Brittany

City Year corps members featured as part of CNN’s series on leaders under 30.

CNN’s Young People Who Rock blogger Nicole Lapin blogs about City Year New York, and will interview two corps members Jairo Estrella and Brittany Maslowsky live online, Friday 12/11 at 3:30 EST.

Do you have questions to ask? Post them as comments!

Read about the experience from the New York Corps member perspective.

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AmeriCorps Project Co-Founder Named CNN Hero of the Year

Thanksgiving night, Anderson Cooper will name Liz McCartney, co-founder of the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans, CNN’s Hero of the Year. The Project credits the involvement of AmeriCorps members with its success.

The following is copied directly from the press release issued by the Corporation for National and Community Service that funds and governs AmeriCorps programs:

Ms. Beatrice and a relative

Ms. Beatrice and a relative

Washington DC — Liz McCartney, cofounder of a Louisiana nonprofit that engages volunteers and AmeriCorps members to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, was named the 2008 CNN Hero of the Year at a ceremony Saturday night in Hollywood.

McCartney received $100,000 to continue the project’s work in rebuilding homes in St. Bernard Parish. McCartney had already received $25,000 for being one of 10 finalists.

The “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” ceremony, hosted by AC 360 host Anderson Cooper and featuring musical performances by Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, and John Legend, will be broadcast on CNN at 9 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving.

“To the country and the world, I ask you to please join us,” said McCartney in her acceptance speech. “Together we can continue to rebuild families’ homes and lives. If you join us, we’ll be unstoppable.”

The top ten finalists were selected from more than 3,700 nominations by a panel that included Magic Johnson, Kristi Yamaguchi, Deepak Chopra, and Desmond Tutu. McCartney was chosen as CNN Hero of the Year after six weeks of online voting in which more than 1 million votes were cast.

Liz McCartney, CNN Hero of the Year 2008

Liz McCartney, CNN Hero of the Year 2008

McCartney formed the St. Bernard Project two years ago with her boyfriend Zack Rosenburg after the couple came to the New Orleans area to volunteer in the wake of Katrina.  Shocked by the widespread destruction, they quit their professional jobs in Washington D.C. and moved to Louisiana.

The project has mobilized more than 9,000 volunteers to renovate and reconstruct 151 homes for residents of St. Bernard Parish.  It has relied heavily on the intensive service of AmeriCorps members to do construction work and manage volunteers. In the past two years, 260 AmeriCorps members have provided more than 80,000 hours of service, trained and managed more than 8,000 volunteers; supervised and worked side-by-side with volunteers to rebuild 120 families’ homes; provided more than $1 million worth of in kind volunteer supervision and labor; and helped raise more than $2 million in funds.

“We would not be where we are today without our partnership with AmeriCorps. This award is a tribute to all of our efforts,” McCartney said yesterday.  “Our relationship with AmeriCorps has been a very powerful and effective force for the community.”

The project works with families to do reconstruction work that’s needed to allow them to move back in. This varies from house to house but typically includes mold remediation, rewiring, plumbing, insulation, sheetrock, cabinetry, installing appliances and cabinets, and other tasks. It takes an average of 12 weeks and $12,000 to rebuild a home.

“I am surrounded by the people who are the real heroes, the people of St. Bernard who have put up with so many challenges and are still fighting for their community. The problems are big but the solutions are readily available. This award is great for the community because it will put St. Bernard and the New Orleans area in the national spotlight and show that we are making progress but still need volunteers,” McCartney said.

At the CNN Heroes ceremony, the top 10 finalists were introduced by celebrity presenters including actors Cameron Diaz, Salma Hayek, John Krasinski, Forest Whitaker, Meg Ryan, Terrence Howard, Lucy Liu, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale and Selena Gomez.  The CNN Heroes campaign salutes everyday people accomplishing extraordinary things in their communities and beyond.  For more information about CNN Heroes, visit

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the Corporation engages four million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs. For more information, visit

See the original The New Service post about Liz McCartney as a Top Ten Hero from Oct. 24.

AmeriCorps Program Named CNN Top 10 Hero

Program involving AmeriCorps members is honored as part of CNN Heroes series.

Yesterday, Anderson Cooper named his Top 10 Heroes of 2008 on CNN. Among them, Liz McCartney and the St. Bernard Project, an AmeriCorps project in St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans.

According to a press release from the Corporation for National and Community Service,

Liz McCartney, co-founder of a Louisiana nonprofit that relies on volunteers and AmeriCorps members to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, has been selected as one of 10 finalists in the second annual “CNN Heroes” program.

The St. Bernard Project, formed two years ago by McCartney and Zack Rosenburg, has mobilized more than 9,000 volunteers to renovate and reconstruct 151 homes for residents of St. Bernard Parish, an area just outside New Orleans that once was home to 67,000 people that suffered massive damage from Katrina.

Watch the AC 360 clip from CNN.

Anyone can vote for the Hero of the Year.

The announcement is expected Thanksgiving night. The winner will win $100,000.

The top ten heroes each won $25,000 and McCartney donated hers back to the project.

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RPCV David Schweidenback pushes Pedals for Peace

Today Peace Corps Polyglot highlights the work of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer David Schweidenback and his innovative program that brings bikes to people who need them in the developing world.

Pedals for Progress takes bikes that would otherwise be discarded and ships them to developing countries where transportation on a bike often makes a huge difference in people’s lives.  Because many people in developing nations have to walk everywhere, their access to services, resources, and jobs is significantly hindered.  Simply owning a bike can provide people with the ability to get the things they need and work more effe ctively.  Since 1991, P4P has rescued over 115,000 bikes shipped them to impoverished people in 32 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

At Peace Corps’ 40th annivesary celebration at the JFK Library in Boston in 2001 I had a chance to meet Schweidenback. He was a really nice guy. His work was so impressive to me, because transportation makes such a huge difference in people’s lives.

A similar project that plays out at the local level here in Portland, OR, is the Community Cycling Center‘s Earn-a-Bike program, where donated bikes are refurbished, people with low-incomes apply to receive a bike, and recipients attend an orientation to bike commuting.

Service Nation Town Hall Meeting

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.

Participants include Lt Gen Ben Freakley, Vanessa Kirsch (New Profit, Inc.), Mallory Josol (City Year and Jumpstart alum), Michelle Nunn (Hands On Network), Usher (er, well, of Usher!).

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?

Participant: The U.S. Public Service Academy be successful? Will it compete with military service academies?

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.