Roosevelt Scholars Act Introduced in the Senate

Senators George Voinovich (R-OH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have recently introduced the Roosevelt Scholars Act of 2009 (S. 2789) to enable and attract highly qualified people to work for the federal government.

The legislation would fund Roosevelt Scholars to pursue degrees in high-skill, high-need fields while receiving tuition, room & board, and a stipend in exchange for a commitment to serve in the federal government – the civilian equivalent to the military’s successful ROTC program.The Roosevelt Scholars program is one effort in response to these looming workforce issues within the federal government:

  • 273,000 mission-critical positions in federal agencies that need to be filled by 2012
  • $20,056 average debt of 2007-2008 undergraduates who took out loans
  • $47,503 average total loan debt after completion of a graduate or professional degree program, effectively pricing many of our most talented students out of public service

Over 140 college and university presidents as well as leaders of associations and good government groups have endorsed the Roosevelt Scholars Act since Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Mike Castle (R-DE) introduced the bill in the House (H.R. 3510).

The Partnership for Public Service, an independent organization that educates people about federal government careers, is asking supporters to sign the online petition and send it to five friends who care about affordable education and a talented federal workforce, to call their Senators at 202-224-3121 and Representatives at 202-225-3121 and urge them to cosponsor the Roosevelt Scholars Act of 2009.

Read The Washington Post pieces by E.J. Dionne and Joe Davidson on Roosevelt Scholars.

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Roosevelt Scholarship Would Offer Students Funding in Exchange for Public Service Commitment

New College, photo from Anne.Oeldorf's Flickr stream

New College, from Anne.Oeldorf's Flickr stream

Update, July 30, 2009: Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Michael Castle (R-DE) introduced the Roosevelt Scholars Act of 2009 in the House.

The Roosevelt Scholars Act aims to create a new pipeline to public service careers for graduate students who are developing skills desperately needed by the federal government.

The Roosevelt Scholars Act, which was introduced last year in the House of Representatives but not yet during this year’s 111th Congress, would create a scholarship program to fund graduate education for students who demonstrate outstanding potential for a career in a mission-critical occupational area within the federal government, and who in turn would commit to three to five years of service in a federal government agency. The scholarship would would be similar to ROTC, but instead of committing to military service, students would commit to Federal government service.

Rep. David Price (D-NC) is planning to introduce the legislation in the House before the August recess. (Last year, he and RPCV Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) introduced the legislation; Shays was not reelected last November.)

The Act would establish a small foundation called the Theodore Roosevelt Scholarship Foundation to administer the scholarships, including tuition and living expenses. Scholarships could amount to as much as $60,000 per student per Continue reading

Extending Noncompetitive Eligibility to All Former, Full-Time AmeriCorps Members

A movement to extend one benefit of AmeriCorps VISTA and Peace Corps service to other service corps alums.

When AmeriCorps VISTA members and Peace Corps Volunteers finish their service, they are eligible for a year of noncompetitive eligibility when applying for jobs in the Federal government. AmeriCorps State and National members are not eligible for this benefit, though there’s mounting support to change this discrepancy.

Having noncompetitive eligibility status means you can apply for federal jobs posted with a special status (“noncompetitive appointment eligibility”) in addition to federal jobs that are open to the public. Additionally, Federal managers are free to hire you without holding a competition, so hiring and selection processes are expedited for people who’ve already demonstrated a commitment to public service.

With noncompetitive eligibility status, you don’t gain any entitlement to Federal employment but your special status does give federal agencies the option of directly selecting you for a vacant position if you are rated as “qualified” for a particular Continue reading

Pres. Obama and Government Careers

images-4With record numbers of first-time voters and young people backing Obama’s presidency, perhaps a new generation of government workers will not be so hard to recruit after all.

With Baby Boomers retiring in droves over the next decade, fears have been widespread in public and nonprofit sectors that the United States will face a leadership shortage.

Not enough young people have shown an interest in government careers, and in-roads to government careers are not well known. Government has a reputation of being inefficient, less lucrative than business sector work, and very, very bureaucratic. People cite student loans that are just too high, and the need for better marketing of the compelling opportunities available in the government.

“This will not be a call issued in one speech or one program – this will be a central cause of my presidency. We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve. And we will direct that service to our most pressing national challenges.”– U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama during a speech given at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs July 2, 2008.

John F. Kennedy inspired a generation of youth to serve through initiatives like Peace Corps. Will a new generation of people — young people and people who are recently discovering civic engagement — be inspired to join the ranks of an Obama-led federal government? What do you think?

If you are considering a career in government — whether you supported McCain or Obama during this election cycle — you should know about these resources:

President-Elect Obama has been particularly clear that his administration will count on the help of people who have supported his candidacy and on those who didn’t. Young people may accept this invitation by entering the government workforce. If they do so with the enthusiasm and turn-out they have shown in his election bid, the looming leadership crisis may fail to materialize.