The Serve America Act—Speak Up About It!

The Corporation for National and Community Service will host conference calls beginning tomorrow to get input about Picture 3the implementation of the Serve America Act.

The new era of service and volunteering officially begins October 1, when the Serve America Act goes into effect. As that date approaches, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNS), the agency charged in the act with both expanding existing programs and creating several new programs and initiatives to increase service opportunities and strengthen our civic infrastructure, will host a series of (6) public forums to get input from the public about how to Continue reading

Summer of Service Creates Positive Alternatives for Middle School Students

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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

Abortion Services and Referral Added to List of AmeriCorps Prohibited Activities

A little talked-about change in the Serve America Act that recently passed into law includes a new “prohibited activity” for AmeriCorps members.

A new category has been added to the list of prohibited activities in the new law that will take affect October 1: AmeriCorps staff and members will be barred from “providing abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services.” The category seems to be included in order to quell the concerns of conservative groups that Federal funding will go to support abortions since, for example, Planned Parenthood chapters often host AmeriCorps members to work on public health education topics.

Check out the full text of the legislation.

And a word on prohibited activities which seem to confuse people unfamiliar with national service to no end.

While charging time to the AmeriCorps program, accumulating service or training hours, or otherwise performing activities supported by the AmeriCorps program or the Corporation for National and Community Service, staff and all Continue reading

Obama’s Remarks on Signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

Today, President Obama made the following remarks before signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

Barack Obama on national service

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

The Signing of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

SAA signingToday President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law. It will take affect October 1 of this year. Read more about the Act.

During one of the most exciting National Volunteer Weeks in recent memory, President Obama and national service supporters gathered today at the SEED School in Washington, D.C., an academic and boarding charter school.

At the signing, Obama said, our “government cannot do everything alone,” but needs the help of citizens in local communities everywhere. And national service isn’t just for recent college graduates (watch news footage from AARP.) Sounding Whitman-esque, he called people every where to “Put your shoulder to the wheel” of service — and if you do, you can look back on the “moment when your own story and the American story converged.”

Michelle Obama and Bill ClintonHe also recognized Bill Clinton for launching AmeriCorps during his administration, and the First Lady Michelle Obama who was the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago, a national service program.

Obama went on to talk about the long legacy of service contributed by the Kennedy family including Ted Kennedy, for whom the legislation is now named.

He also introduced Maria Eitel his nominee for the new chief executive post at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and Acting C.E.O. Nicola Goren.

The bill re-authorizes CNCS and its programs through 2014, and authorizes sweeping expansion of national service (with a nod Continue reading