National Conference on Volunteering and Service Showcases Innovative Solutions to Community Challenges

National Conference on Volunteering and Service Showcases Innovative Solutions to Community Challenges
Jun 1, 2011

National Conference on Volunteering and Service Showcases Innovative Solutions to Community Challenges

Largest Gathering of Volunteer and Service Leaders Convenes in New Orleans, June 6-8

New Orleans, June 1, 2011 – As communities across the country face challenges ranging from the dropout crisis to childhood hunger to natural disasters, and as Americans look for ways to give back, volunteer service has become an essential strategy for solving community challenges. Leaders from the service sector will come together to share solutions, best practices and lessons for achieving greater impact at the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS) in New Orleans, June 6-8.

The conference, convened by Points of Light Institute and the Corporation for National and Community Service, is the world's largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from the nonprofit, corporate and government sectors. This year's event will provide nearly 4,000 “Champions of Service” with an opportunity to learn, connect and be inspired through a range of plenary sessions, workshops, special events, service projects and more.

“Service is fundamental to meeting the pressing issues of our time,” said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute. “The National Conference on Volunteering and Service seeks to equip those at the heart of community progress with the tools to mobilize people, design and manage effective programs and cultivate a renewed ethic of service that recognizes that everyone can, and must, be part of the solution.”

This year's conference also showcases the city of New Orleans as a laboratory for social innovation in areas reaching far beyond disaster recovery. Since 2005, millions of volunteers have helped address the city's educational challenges, economic development issues and government leadership. NCVS will provide an opportunity to pay tribute to the impact of volunteerism on the revitalization of the city, demonstrating the critical role of service in improving communities and our nation at large.

“This remarkable city and the entire Gulf coast offer an extraordinary example of the power of citizens to make a difference through service,” said Mark Gearan, chair, Corporation for National and Community Service Board of Directors. “Gathering in New Orleans underscores the power of people to emerge from disaster and challenge by joining together in action. At a time of great social need, service is a critical, cost-effective investment that taps our greatest resource – the energy and ideas of our citizens – to get things done.”

Target is this year's title sponsor for NCVS and the official education sponsor. The company will host the opening plenary session that will feature a conversation between political consultants James Carville and Mary Matalin about the impact of volunteerism on their hometown, a performance by jazz legend Branford Marsalis and an “only in New Orleans” experience for attendees.

“Volunteerism is one of the many ways Target works with the communities in which we operate to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Laysha Ward, president, Target community relations. “Last year, Target volunteers spent 430,000 hours serving their communities, in schools, libraries and with nonprofit organizations.Target's sponsorship of the National Conference on Volunteerism and Service is part of our commitment to ensuring volunteer service continues to grow and expand.”

In addition to Target, NCVS is sponsored by Chase, impact sponsor and the official economy track sponsor; University of Phoenix, leadership sponsor and official Road to the Gulf sponsor; and UPS, impact sponsor and official preferred carrier.

NCVS attendees will hear from renowned presenters during multiple workshop blocks. More than 150 workshops, 11 immersion learning sessions and seven forums will be offered in focus areas ranging from disaster response to youth leadership. Expert presenters from the nonprofit, corporate and government sectors will engage participants in hands-on sessions to explore topics relevant to volunteerism and service.

“New Orleans uniquely understands the value of volunteer service to create change and build community,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, chairman of the NCVS Host Committee. “We hope the attendees at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service are inspired and energized by our city and the innovative ideas and learning opportunities they will experience.”

Conference highlights include:

Signature Service Project, Monday, June 6, 8 a.m.

NCVS will serve as the final stop on University of Phoenix's six-month Road to the Gulf program. The signature park restoration projects will be held at Sam Bonart Park in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Volunteers will install new playground equipment, repair basketball courts, install sideline benches, build soccer fields, install lighting and beautify the park.

Public Participation in the Wake of Disaster, Monday, June 6, 1 p.m.

Join us for a discussion framed by retired Admiral Thad Allen on the importance of public participation in the wake of disaster. Admiral Allen will discuss his experience as U.S. Coast Guard Commander during Hurricane Katrina and the 201 Gulf oil spill. He and Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and Karen Baker, California secretary of service and volunteering, will discuss the value of acting now to build resilient communities across the country.

National Service General Session, Tuesday, June 7, 10:30 a.m.

Service is central to innovative approaches for solving community and national problems. Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour will share ideas and highlights of the ground-breaking work being done to address pressing issues by partnering with government, leveraging service and incorporating volunteering to achieve impact throughout the nation.

Citizen Solutions for Economic Opportunity, Tuesday, June 7, 2 p.m.

Fostering and advancing economic opportunities in under-resourced communities is a constant challenge. Some communities have found success drawing on existing resources and the power of volunteers. At this session, sponsored by Chase, Diahann Billings-Burford, chief service officer for New York City, David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center and MSNBC contributor and The chief correspondent Jeff Johnson will discuss practices of asset-based community development and case studies of successful community programs will be highlighted.

Leaders Make the Future: Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World, Tuesday, June 7, 3 p.m.

An interactive conversation, sponsored by UPS and eBay, with a cross-section of leaders about the skills needed to be successful in a world characterized by volatility, complexity and ambiguity. Panelists including Dr. Hal Colston, executive director of the Vermont Commission on National and Community Service, Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach for America, and Max Stier, president and CEO of Partnership for Public Service will discuss their predictions for the future, the leadership frameworks they work within and how those frameworks lead to lasting impact in communities.

Innovate to Educate: Community Solutions for Education Success, Tuesday, June 7, 4 p.m.

This signature conference event, sponsored by Target, will highlight innovative citizen-driven solutions that are helping address the challenges facing America's education system. It will showcase inspiring examples of community-based engagement that have resulted in tangible results for schools and students nationwide. Attendees will hear from featured speaker Soledad O'Brien, award-winning journalist and anchor for CNN's special investigations unit, as well as community leaders who are collectively leading the charge for innovative education solutions.

The NCVS opening plenary session on Monday, June 6, will feature civil rights activist Ruby Bridges, a conversation between political consultants James Carville and Mary Matalin, moderated by ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts, about the impact of service on their hometown of New Orleans, and special performances by Branford Marsalis and Roots of Music, a music program for New Orleans middle schoolers.

The closing session on Wednesday, June 8, features the presentation of a Presidential Volunteer Service award to actor and activist Rosario Dawson, performances by Grammy Award-winner Chris Thomas King and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Percy Sledge and the announcement of the 2012 NCVS host city, all hosted by comedian John Oliver from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

For more information on NCVS, please visit

Media Contact

Samantha Jo Warfield
(202) 491-8250

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