CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service Remarks at Building a GradNation Summit

May 16, 2014


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hello everyone, good morning!  Thank you so much Dan, my good brother in service.

Magnificent. Erector set. Discovery.  Matinee.  Scolded.  Hypnotist.  Those are some of the words that James, the student that I tutor learned yesterday.

We read a book together.  These are new words that he didn't know the meaning of and didn't know how to pronounce.

He now knows these words and the meaning of them and the context in which they were stated in the book that we read together.

We also talked about cause and effect in our session. This is a program called "Reading Partners." It’s an AmeriCorps program in Shaw Elementary School here in D.C.  that recruits volunteers like me to come in and work in a very strategic way with students who need some extra help. To learn to read, to learn to understand new words, to be excited about education.

I'm really proud we've got AmeriCorps programs all over the country.  And I'm really thankful that Alma Powell and John Gomperts are keeping our eye on the prize to make sure that everyone graduates.

Thank you Alma Powell, thank you John Gomperts, we're right here with you.  And you, everyone in this room, you are our champions for America's future, because you are focused, very smartly, on education.

We have at the Corporation for National and Community Service today 75,000 AmeriCorps members, we have 315,000 Senior Corps volunteers -- Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions and RSVP volunteers - serving in 60,000 locations across America.

We have six priority areas: environment, education, economic opportunities, healthy futures, disasters, and supporting our veterans and military families.

So we could take our budget and cut it six ways equally into those six very important areas. But we've chosen not to do that.

We've chosen to invest half our funds in education.   Not one-sixth, but HALF.  (Applause)

It's in the right area, because we know while we’re supporting those other five areas, we know investing in education supports those five areas too, in many, many ways. It's very important.  And many of you are our partners across the country in doing so. I've seen all the AmeriCorps City Year members this morning, many of you have our grants that you are using to invest in your programs as well.

Last year we announced that there's either an AmeriCorps member or Senior Corps volunteer in in 12,000 schools across America. We looked even deeper to find out what type of schools.  Of those 12,000 schools, one in four of them are in persistently low-achieving schools, chronically underperforming schools.  So it tells us we're in the right places.

But until this week, we've never really researched how many AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers are actually in schools today.

We knew the locations, but we really didn't know how many. So I am here to announce that today that we have… and what would you guess?  Maybe 10,000? I hoped it would be 15,000, maybe 30,000.

Today serving in schools, AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers - 82,100 national service participants, 82,100. (Applause) I am really thrilled about that.

I want to enlist all of you if you want to engage service as a strategy as a part of the engine of your education success -- tweet me at WendyCNCS or contact our office and let us know.

This past year, President Obama took an opportunity on July 15 to welcome President George H. W. Bush to the White House and recognize his work around volunteerism and service and the Points of Light Foundation that he started.

Together they recognized the 5,000 points of light. President Obama also took the opportunity that day to announce a Task Force on Expanding National Service.

We need more AmeriCorps members serving, more Senior Corps volunteers serving in our communities, so we're working very hard to do so. We partnered with the Department of Education, and my brother in service, Arne Duncan, and came up with School Turnaround AmeriCorps.

We pooled our funds together so we could provide hundreds of AmeriCorps members in 68 of the chronically low performing schools across the country. We visited Stanton Elementary School a couple of weeks ago to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the School Turnaround AmeriCorps program.

We found something really exciting with the partnership we pulled together.  We found students at Stanton Elementary who were off-track are now on-track, ready for success, because they have national service members working alongside with them every single day.  (Applause)

So we're excited that the fact that growing national service in education is the place we need to be. If you want to engage national service as an engine to startup and really support your work - contact us and let us know, and we're going to be there for you, and we'll grow more AmeriCorps members.

Thank you so much for supporting national service and the Corporation for National and Community Service and our AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers and the 82,100 of them serving in schools today across America, thank you so much for that.

Media Contact

Samantha Jo Warfield
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