President Obama Expands National Service Opportunities for Americans

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Jul 15, 2013

Interagency and public-private partnerships will solve problems, expand opportunity, and use tax dollars more efficiently 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the White House, President Obama honored President George H.W. Bush’s lifetime of public service and announced new steps to expand opportunities for Americans to solve problems and strengthen communities through national service programs like AmeriCorps.

Building on a longstanding tradition of bipartisan Presidential support for service and volunteerism, the President announced an interagency task force led by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The task force will develop strategies to expand national service to meet national needs through partnerships with other Federal agencies and the private sector.  

“Our country is a better and stronger force for good in the world because more and more we are a people that serve,” said President Obama.  “Today I want to announce a new task force with representatives from cabinet agencies and other departments across the government to take a fresh look at how we can better support national service, in particular on some our most important national priorities – improving schools, recovering from disasters, mentoring our kids…  In times of tight budgets and some very tough problems, we know that the greatest resource we have is the limitless energy and ingenuity of our citizens.”

By creating new partnerships for national service, the President’s action will engage more Americans in results-driven service, expand economic and educational opportunities for those who serve, enhance Federal agencies’ capacity to achieve their missions, more efficiently use tax dollars, and build the pipeline of Americans ready to enter public service.

At today’s event, the President honored President George H.W. Bush’s contributions to service and volunteerism, including his signing of the 1990 national service legislation and his creation of the Points of Light movement and its signature award.  The Daily Point of Light Award has been presented 5,000 times to individuals and groups who find innovative ways to meet community needs.

“Volunteer service is and always has been a fundamental part of the American character, “said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, the agency that administers AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.  “For decades, presidents of both parties have embraced national service as a cost-effective way to tap the ingenuity and can-do spirit of the American people to get things done.  The President’s actions today will usher in a new wave of innovative partnerships to solve problems, expand opportunity, and strengthen our communities and nation.”

The Presidential Memorandum released today establishes a National Service Task Force consisting of representatives of 13 cabinet departments, the Peace Corps, National Science Foundation, Office of Personnel Management, Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House. The task force will be co-chaired by the CEO of CNCS and the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Among other activities, the task force will make recommendations on polices to expand national service opportunities, recommend ways to coordinate volunteering and service programs across the Federal government, develop opportunities for interagency agreements between CNCS and other federal agencies, and identify public-private partnerships to expand national service.

During the next six months, agencies participating on the task force will confer with CNCS about potential partnerships to engage more Americans in national service to solve local problems and advance agency missions.

The President’s establishment of this task force builds on the Administration’s commitment to using national service as a solution for pressing challenges.  Over the past year, CNCS has launched several innovative partnerships with federal agencies, including: 

  • FEMA Corps, which is a new 1,600 member AmeriCorps program solely devoted to disaster response and recovery.  FEMA Corps strengthens disaster capacity, prepares young people for emergency management careers, and saves significant taxpayer dollars.  FEMA Corps members provided invaluable service in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and recent tornadoes in the Midwest and have developed innovative ways to serve disaster survivors.
  • School Turnaround AmeriCorps, which is a partnership between the Department of Education and AmeriCorps that will bring more than 650 new AmeriCorps members into some of our lowest-performing schools this fall, where they will work to boost student academic achievement, attendance, high school graduation rates, and college and career readiness.
  • STEM AmeriCorps, which President Obama announced at the White House Science Fair this spring, is multi-year initiative to place hundreds of AmeriCorps members in nonprofits across the country to mobilize STEM professionals to inspire young people to excel in science, technology, engineering and math to build the pipeline for future STEM careers.

The Presidential directive will also accelerate CNCS’ outreach to corporations, foundations, and other funders to secure additional support for national service.  

In addition to administering AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, national days of service, and other programs, CNCS provides vital leadership, coordination, resources, and support to America’s volunteer sector.  Each year, AmeriCorps members recruit and manage more than 4 million volunteers for the organizations they serve.  The President’s FY 2014 budget requests a significant increase in the Volunteer Generation Fund, a CNCS program to strengthen volunteer management practices, and proposes renaming the program the George H.W. Bush Volunteer Generation Fund.

Media Contact

Samantha Jo Warfield
(202) 606-6775
sjwarfield@cns.gov

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