U.S. Public Service Academy Bill Re-Introduced in the House

U.S. Public Service Academy logoThis week, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) re-introduced legislation that would establish the U.S. Public Service Academy, a civilian counterpart to the military academies.

The Academy would offer four years of tuition-free civilian education to train new generations of public service leaders, in exchange for five years of service in public institutions, meeting critical needs.

The Academy’s mission is “to educate, develop, and inspire civilian leaders who have the character, intellect, and experience necessary to serve the nation honorably and effectively, and who are committed to devoting their lives to public service.”

The curriculum as drafted emphasizes civics, history, economics, constitutional law, ethics, leadership, foreign language, and service, and includes an internship component.

Similar to the military academies like West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy, applicants would be nominated by their member of Congress and then compete for admission with other nominees from their own state (each state to have its own allocation of students). (Read more…)

The legislation has 37 co-sponsors, according to the U.S. Public Service Academy website. Read (and comment!) on the full bill, H.R. 2102.

This Huffington Post article by Grayce Cheng offers insight and analysis.

Check out my 2007 podcast interview with one of the founders of the U.S. Public Service AcademyEchoing Green Fellow and TFA Alum Chris Myers Asch, and other news about the Academy.

You can also follow news on the Academy’s blog and Twitter feed.

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Change.org: How Would You Change the U.S.?

The social networking site Change.org (not to be confused with Obama’s transition site Change.gov) asks you to submit and vote for the best ideas to change the United States.

Here are some of the top national and public service ideas afloat.

uspsalogoVote for the U.S. Public Service Academy, a four-year, federally subsidized, civilian counterpart to Westpoint and the other military academies. Students would attend cost-free in exchange for a commitment to a few years of public service post-graduation. Spearheaded by Echoing Green Fellow Chris Myers Asch, and backed already by many government leaders. (Listen to the Idealist.org podcast on the idea.)

Vote for a national service program to improve local infratructure. “A large yet light and fast corps of workers – not unlike President-elect Obama’s campaign infrastructure – mobilized to solve such regional blights could have a huge impact on our economy, our environment, our education, and our civic engagement and empowerment, all from the ground up.” Submitted by librarian and media ecologist Terence Fitzgerald.

Abigail Falik

Abigail Falik, Founder of Global Citizen Year

Vote for Global Citizen Year, “The world urgently needs globally engaged American leadership.  Poverty, disease and climate change affect us all, threatening global security, prosperity and survival.  Yet Americans remain dangerously uninformed and unengaged in global issues….By recruiting and training a diverse corps of emerging leaders, and supporting them as apprentices with development organizations across Asia, Africa and Latin America, we’ll ensure that many more students have the global fluencies and civic savvy they need to approach their lives with passion, perspective and purpose. ” Global Citizen Year is already incorporated as an organization, headed by Abigail Falik, with plans to launch its first corps during the fall of 2009.

Atlas Corps logoVote for a two-way international service corps. “For 47 years Americans have had the opportunity to volunteer abroad with the Peace Corps and other programs, however it is almost impossible for someone overseas to volunteer in the U.S. The U.S. Government should support a global, two-way, service corps, such as Atlas Corps, where nonprofit leaders from abroad can volunteer in the U.S. and U.S. nonprofit leaders can volunteer abroad.” Submitted by Scott Beale, the founder of Atlas Corps.

Vote for incorporating social entrepreneurship into the national service plan. “While many students will be thrilled with the loan-repayment and service opportunities provided, and will rush at the ability to as teachers in under-privelleged schools or as Peace Corps volunteers abroad, the social entrepreneurs among the undergraduate crowd need support for their style of making change as well. This group are the synthesizers that see gaps in current nonprofit service provision and create new, innovative approaches to change. Unfortunately, there is almost no regularized funding available for student social entrepreneurs to translate their student work into full time careers and full-scale nonprofits. Social venture funding is needed.” Submitted by Nathaniel Whittemore, a Chicago-based social entrepreneur.

Vote to Expand AmeriCorps. “The benefits of giving Americans a chance to serve their country radically outweigh the costs.  In addition, service is a wonderful way to give young people the resources they need to go to college.  President Obama should keep his promise to expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 members a year by immediately pushing to increase its funding, instituting a “health corps” and a “green corps,” and giving a major speech in which he personally solicits young people to make a commitment to filling these slots.  More than ever, Americans desire the opportunity to serve their country; President Obama must make that a priority immediately.” Submitted by UPenn law student, activist, and AmeriCorps Alum Adam Schwartzbaum.

The top ten ideas overall, submitted in a wide range of categories, will be presented to President-Elect Obama on inauguration day (January 20).

Voting will take place in two rounds — round one ends on December 31. The top ideas from each category will make it to round two. Read more about the Ideas for Change in America.

New Echoing Green Podcast – Application Tips

Echoing Green logoEchoing Green’s latest podcast episode highlights tips for applying for one of its prestigious social-enterprise fellowships.

For people who have innovative ideas for solving the world’s most intractable social ills, Echoing Green offers two years of start-up funding, support, and networking. Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America, received seed funds from Echoing Green. Chris Myers Asch, founder and leader of the U.S. Public Service Academy movement, is a current Fellow. Read about other 2008 Fellows.

From Echoing Green’s web site:

Applicants should be sure to check out this week’s episode of the Be Bold podcast.  In this episode, Echoing Green’s Lara Galinsky answers questions about the Echoing Green Fellowship including:

  • What is the Echoing Green Fellowship?
  • What are the application requirements?
  • What are common mistakes in the application process?
  • What additional resources does Echoing Green provide to applicants?

Applications to the fellowship are due December 1, 2008 at 5pm EST. The initial application is online. Read more about the application process.

Listen to the Idealist podcast on Echoing Green featuring Lara Galinsky.

Call for stories. Also, Echoing Green has issued a call for submissions to its next verstion of the book Be Bold.

Service Nation Summit the Finale

BetheChangeInc and RocchiJulia are tweeting.

Also see this post from Future Leaders in Philanthropy (FLiP).

Jean Case of the Case Foundation: bring the sectors together to change the conversation about national service and sustain the energy we’ve felt here. Introducing the CEO Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs. “It says something when one of the most powerful companies in the world works so hard to eliminate inequalities.”

Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs: Staff of Goldman Sachs are expected to volunteer with organizations they care about. People already come with a strong sense of service. People leaving the firm often go on to public service, so the corporate volunteer program at Goldman Sachs must be strong. One corporate engagement program, 10,000 Woman, is a program that enables business and management education for women in developing countries and the United States who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. Alligns with fundamental business of Goldman Sachs. Program develop curricula, works with professors, increases accessibility of business education. Includes Goldman Staff employees through its mentor-match connections to the women seeking business education. Another Goldman Sachs outreach area includes helping nonprofits through the Capacity Building Initiative and is launching a new enterprise, Leadership in Service, a daylong conference for nonprofit executives. Coming Spring 2009, with Case Foundation. Sessions on specific areas like board development, financial management, staff development, and program evaluation.

Rick Stengel, Managing Editor of TIME. Great speaker. Educate the governed, essential for a democracy. He’s just doing his job.

Anne S. Moore, Chairman and CEO of TIME Inc. Doesn’t play favorites among staff and sees amazing work come across her desk. It’s hard to knock her socks off. Occasionally her breath is taken away. “If you want to be happy for a lifetime, help other people” — quoting from a Rabbi’s advice to a newly married couple. Says Rick is her favorite editor today. Will support him in escalating the call to serve. Introduces Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Each of us can serve in a way that suits our talents and interests. Service Nation can make sure that the table of service in the United States can be big enough so that everyone can find a place. Many problems in the United States but with Service Nation’s leadership, we “can turn what is an American phenomenon and turn it into a great and growing movement.” AmeriCorps members turn a one-or-two year commitment into a lifetime of service. Bill Clinton says AmeriCorps is “one of his favorite accomplishments.” Clinton is proud to join the co-sponsorship on the Serve America Act. Also working on the U.S. Public Service Academy bill with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). Need more youth to consider public service. She says she was taught the importance of service in church and school as a youth, that she owed something back. She says she has been in service her entire life, and it has taught her a lot about herself. “A candle loses nothing of its light by lighting other candles” – quoting from Fr. James Keller. “What we are doing is going out and igniting tens of millions of other candles.” Every year her staff volunteers on 9/11 and helped kick off MyGoodDeed.org, founded by Jay Winuk in the spirit of his brother Glenn Winuk who lost his life when he went into a tower as a volunteer firefighter on 9/11 to help. Clinton says we are the beneficiaries of the American experiment and struggle against enemy forces. “I think it takes a village, and now it takes a nation….Service Nation, we are ready…”

Followed by…Jon Bon Jovi…”How am I supposed to follow that?” The rocker is optimistic that candidates are going to meet and exceed goals of Service Nation, with the help and support of Service Nation and its partners. Proud that his oldest daughter was present to hear Hillary Clinton speak. Bon Jovi was born “a year to the day” after the creation of the Peace Corps. His oldest daughter was born the year AmeriCorps was created. “You might remember me as a 26 year old with a guitar and a dream,” he says. You don’t have to be wealthy to tap into the “power of we.” He is now the co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football League team which serves its community in addition to playing football. The team takes on projects such as building homes and reclaiming troubled urban neighborhoods. “I want to make volunteerism the new black!” (If you don’t know, “the new black” means “the coolest thing ever.” I had to ask. In Portland we tend towards blues and greens I guess?)

Capt. Amy Clements of Colorado. Reading the Declaration of Service on stage with others who enthusiastically share in the reading. Consider signing the Declaration if you are of a mind to!

Dr. Mehmet Oz, Founder of the privately funded service program HealthCorps, heart surgeon, author, and Oprah favorite! [Life altering side comment: I have met a really interesting woman Amy B. on the Service Nation media team, who works with Health Corps and knows Dr. Oz, who in turn works with and knows Oprah. I am two degrees of separation from Oprah. I LOVE Oprah. What a great day today is.] Service Nation has the right prescription, Dr. Oz says, in bringing the private sector and the public sector together. Introduces Arnold Schwarzenegger who joins us by satellite.

Arnold! Has promised not to leave California till the state budget is passed — apologizes for not being here in person. He and Maria are all “pumped up” over national service. He’s really funny and has made the audience laugh out loud several times in the first few minutes of his talk. Blunt and has good timing to boot. As a youth, his goals were simple: build a perfect body and then go to Hollywood to make movies. He says he never would have guessed he’d be happy doing service, working for no salary (he hasn’t accepted a salary from the state of California since becoming governor). He started out serving people to “pump them up” but they pumped him up! Wasn’t making a million dollars, but “felt like a million dollars.” Says the Kennedy influence brought him into service. (His wife, journalist Maria Shriver, is the daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver who was active with the Special Olympics movement, and Sargent Shriver the first director of Peace Corps. She is also a niece of late President John F. Kennedy.) Going “from one thing to the next,” he got involved with fitness and exercising as a public health issue. Now he loves being a governor, to get up every morning to think “What can I do for these millions of people?” Sometimes government gets in the way. For example, volunteers couldn’t work on union-protected projects till he helped changed the law to pave the way for volunteers to serve. Today he tells his children (with a weight my parents could not have had if they had told me) that they can be millionaires if they want, but that they should reserve a place on their resumes for service. He also was the first governor to elevate the California commissioner on voluntary action and and service, Jesuit Volunteer Corps Alumnae Karen Baker, to a cabinet-level post. (New York governor David Patterson announced last night that he planned to do the same.)

With the conclusion of Schwarzenegger’s speech, Emily Cherniack of Be the Change Inc. thanked sponsors and partners, and the historic event concluded with the audience and volunteers enjoying a networking period.

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.