More Peace Corps Rally Saturday, June 13th

More Peace CorpsShow your support for More Peace Corps at a rally in Washington, DC, tomorrow from 2-4 pm at Freedom Plaza.

Hundreds of former Peace Corps volunteers will come together tomorrow to remind President Obama of his campaign pledge to build a Peace Corps of 16,000 volunteers by 2011, the 50th anniversary of the agency.

The rally will culminate with a march to the White House, led by Tim Shriver — CEO of Special Olympics International and son of Peace Corps’s founding director Sargent Shriver.  Leamer, a speaker at the event as well as one of its organizers, insists the event isn’t anti-Obama, but a friendly reminder to honor his own campaign promise.

The event will feature music from an 22-woman Brazilian drumming group Batala, Peruvian flutist Juan Cayrampoma and the American rock-n-roll band Cairo Fred.

In addition to Tim Shriver, event speakers will include:

House Committee Holds a Hearing to Examine Need for Service

Wednesday morning the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing “examine the importance of national and community service in meeting critical economic needs” across the country.

According to a press release from the office Rep. George Miller—the chair of the committee—the hearing will focus on “re-invigorating” civic engagement, expanding national service opportunities for young people, and greening the United States with the help of national service programs.

Witnesses who will testify include:

Sinking Economy? Need More National Service

Harris WoffordDesperate economic times highlight the need for cost-effective, public-private measures to serve the needy in the United States.

Today national service champions Harris Wofford and Stephen Goldsmith outline the need for more national service, as a response to the economic downturn.

Excerpts below…

Food banks’ supplies are set to reach new lows. Yet this year we will see millions of citizens reach out in record numbers to assist those in need — offering food, special care and compassion.

As the government seeks to deal with the economic crisis and relieve the distress felt by millions of families, we should not overlook the great American tradition of service. More than 60 million citizens every year are providing service to their neighbors and their communities.

President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to make service a central cause of his presidency. In his call to service outlining plans for a large expansion of citizen service, he said he would reach out to Republicans, Democrats and independents alike, young and old, and ask all of us for our service and active citizenship. ”We need your service, right now,” he said.

Here are a few examples of what ”We the People” can do right now and in the year ahead:

  • We can help children in danger of dropping out of school by volunteering as tutors and mentors.
  • Skilled professionals (lawyers, accountants, et al.) can go door to door in distressed communities to assist families facing mortgage foreclosure.
  • Volunteers can support displaced families and children by helping them transition from homeless shelters to more permanent housing.
  • Since financial stress and unemployment can lead to substance abuse, psychological despair and homelessness, community assistance centers and shelters will need many new volunteers and basic supplies.

However any such new government resources should be viewed not as a jobs program but as assets and agents necessary to manage and train millions of volunteers. These new forces can be rapidly assigned to existing nonprofits to recruit and organize unpaid, shorter-term volunteers.

Last year 75,000 AmeriCorps members recruited more than 1.7 million local volunteers. One of the best examples of this is AmeriCorps’ relationship with Habitat for Humanity, where members don’t just build homes, but most of all recruit, train and manage the community volunteers on whom Habitat relies. AmeriCorps members serving with Habitat for Humanity helped mobilize 200,000 community volunteers to build 1,700 homes.

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.