What Does the Election Mean for National Service?



Here’s what the reelection of President Obama means for national service:

In 2008, then Senator Obama pledged to make national service a cause of his presidency.  In the first 100 days of his administration, he turned his pledge into action by signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act – the boldest national service legislation since the era of FDR.  The bill promised to more than triple AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 AmeriCorps by 2017, to grow Senior Corps, and to advance impact volunteerism and proven social innovation.

Unfortunately, the growth of national service stalled when Congress and the President did not invest fully in the promise of the Serve America Act.  Today, we have about 80,000 AmeriCorps members when the number should be 140,000 and growing. There are also 100,000 fewer Senior Corps members, and the entire Learn and Serve America program was eliminated.

As the President and Congress focus on fiscal priorities, they must spend limited resources on efforts that return financial and social benefits. National service meets this test. National service unites political parties, trains young leaders, tackles problems, and reinforces commitment to country.

With so many Americans looking for jobs, so many challenges in our communities and schools, and our nation looking for unity, national service should remain a top priority.  It should not only be the cause of a presidency, but also a cause of our nation.

In last night’s victory speech, President Obama said: “The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote.  America has never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together.”

That is exactly right. We need to demand that the President and Congress fulfill their promise to expand opportunities for Americans to serve their nation.  The only way this will happen is if you speak up, take action, and we work collectively and relentlessly moving forward.  Will you take a first step by sharing our "1 Million New Jobs" petition on Facebook and Twitter?

Onward,

Ken, Zach, Morgan, Jerry, and the entire ServiceNation + ServeNext team

PS - We also want to congratulate two additional winners last night.  Representative Tom Latham, a new member of the National Service Caucus, and Senator-elect Martin Heinrich, the first AmeriCorps alumnus to be a Senator!

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