Monday, March 23, 2009

GIVE And Ye Shall Receive

Volunteerism To Have More Than Own Reward

Who said that being a volunteer doesn't pay?

Sure, to volunteer, as we do at The Community Alliance, and as many of our readers do in their communities, is its own reward.

Now, under new legislation, passed in the House and making its way to the Senate, service to the community will become more compelling and, yes, even more rewarding.

The United States House of Representatives has passed a measure -- the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act (GIVE) -- which, if enacted into law, would create a nationwide community-based infrastructure that would promote -- and fund -- traditionally volunteer activities.

Through matching funds, fellowships, stipends, and other local incentives, community-driven projects -- and the volunteers who support and implement such initiatives -- would be given a major boost, and not just a pat on the back.

GIVE provides a WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN in creating jobs, fostering community service, rebuilding community from the ground up, and calling all Americans to service -- the very foundation of our great democracy.

For highlights of GIVE, we bring you a blogpost from our friends at

Obama Asks Us to GIVE
Caitlin Baggott

When Obama the candidate spoke about the need for a generation of service, I was pretty sure that it would take his administration a year to set up. Far from it. Tomorrow, Congress will be voting on a comprehensive and inclusive Act to, among other things, increase the number of volunteer service positions in the US from 75,000 to 250,000.

The GIVE Act (The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act) is a direct response to the energy, passion and talents of people who want give back to their communities. It is a multi-generation call to service.

Highlights from the bill are after the jump. The GIVE Act will be on the House floor tomorrow. You can track the bill from here and contact your Elected Officials from here and here. Act now so that tomorrow we can get to work.

One note on this landmark legislation -- there is no funding here for people to participate in public service on civic participation (registering voters, getting out the vote, educating communities about important issues, etc.). While many, many young Americans are involved in community service volunteerism, few participate directly in the political or civic process as volunteers. This legislation is an important step toward a new generation of service. And there's more work to do.

Creates 175,000 New Service Opportunities and Rewards Americans for Commitment
Grows the number of volunteers nationwide to 250,000, up from 75,000. The bill also links the full-time education award to the maximum authorized Pell Grant award amount in order to keep up with rising college costs.

Provides Incentives for Middle and High School Students to Engage in Service
Establishes the Summer of Service program that engages middle and high school students in volunteer activities in their communities and allows them to earn a $500 education award to be used for college costs.

Makes High School Students Part of Solution to Challenges in their Communities

Establishes Youth Engagement Zones, a new service-learning program to help bridge partnerships between community based organizations and schools in high-need, low-income communities to engage high school students and out-of-school youth in service-learning to address specific challenges their communities face.

Recognizes and Supports Colleges and Universities Engaged in Service

Establishes the Campuses of Service to support and recognize institutions of higher education with exemplary service-learning programs and assists students in the pursuit of public service careers.

Boosts Opportunities for Disadvantaged Youth

Expands opportunities for disadvantaged youth, including those with disabilities, to become more involved with service and strives to include people of all ages and those from diverse background in volunteerism.

Creates Green and Other New Service Corps to Meet Key Needs in Low-Income Communities

Establishes four new service corps to address key needs in low income communities, including a Clean Energy Corps to encourage energy efficiency and conservation measures, an Education Corps to help increase student engagement, achievement and graduation, a Healthy Futures Corps to improve health care access, and a Veterans Service Corps to enhance services for veterans.

Broadens Scope of Collaborative Service Efforts

Expands the focus of the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) to include disaster relief, infrastructure improvement, environmental and energy conservation, and urban and rural development.

Encourages service partnerships with other federal agencies.

Recruits Scientists and Engineers to Service to Keep America Competitive

Recruits scientists, technicians, mathematicians and engineers into national service to help keep America competitive.

Expands Service Opportunities for Older Americans and Public-Private Partnerships

Creates two new fellowships to engage social entrepreneurs, boomers and retirees, the private sector and Americans from all generations in service.
-ServeAmerica Fellowships: ServeAmerica Fellows are individuals who propose their own plans for serving in their communities to address national needs and are matched up with a service sponsor.
-Silver Scholarships and Encore Fellowships: These programs offer boomers and seniors, age 55 or older, opportunities to transition into service post-career as well as entrance into new careers in the public or nonprofit sector.

Creates a nationwide community-based infrastructure to leverage investments in service

Builds a nationwide service infrastructure through community-building investments and social entrepreneurship.
Community Solutions Fund: Creates a Community Solutions Fund pilot program that awards competitive matching grants to social entrepreneur venture funds in order to provide community organizations with the resources to replicate or expand proven solutions to community challenges.

Establishes Call to Service Campaigns
Includes a Call to Service Campaign to launch a national campaign encouraging all Americans to engage in service and to observe September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
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NOTEWORTHY: Of the 221 Aye votes in the House, only 2 came from Republican members, Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland and Ron Paul of Texas. 187 Republicans voted Nay, chiefly in opposition to spending. [Gee, where were these Republicans during the course of the past eight years, when they spent us from a surplus to a how many trillion dollar deficit?]

The House bill was sponsored by our own Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. Bravo!

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