While the 60-day National Service Express Tour has come to a close, we hope that you’ll choose to listen to (by clicking on) our good ol’ Uncle Sam…
In 60 days, you joined over 500 individuals at 35 meetings in 28 states. After 30,000 combined miles, we’re finally back and sleeping in our own beds! What an unbelievable journey with twists, turns, stories, and faces that we’ll not soon forget. On behalf of ServeNext, it is an understatement to say that we have truly appreciated the opportunity to see the ways that AmeriCorps members (and alumni) are making a difference through their service across the country.
To all we met along the way – thanks for coming out to our organizing events, hosting us on your couches and futons, feeding us, making us laugh, and helping us better understand what’s at stake in your communities as we continue to build the National Service Movement.
A special word of thanks to members of our mighty Tour Steering Committee. For taking a chance on an idea and an organization… for helping us clarify our message before we the road… for making cold calls and convincing people that this was something they wanted to be a part of… for choosing to invest your own precious “free” time in the future of AmeriCorps… thanks for making National Service history with us this spring. It is an understatement to say that we couldn’t have done this without you. Thanks for your boundless energy and determination to make this first National Service Express Tour one that will rival all others yet to come.
That’s right, friends… “other” National Service Express Tours! In the meantime, check out the brand spankin’ NEW! — ServeNext.org — and join the team. We’ll be in touch.
A: In Atlanta, at Be The Change’s Change Agent Academy and the 2008 National Conference on Volunteering and Service.
Since we last posted, we’ve been on a 16 hour bus ride from Miami to Columbia, had three awesome meetings in Columbia, met an amazing man named Elliiot Epps, taken an hour too long 6 hour bus ride from Columbia to Atlanta and are now attending these great conferences in Atlanta.
We’ll be posting about the conferences this weekend and early next week, including an update about President Jimmy Carter’s closing address on Tuesday!
Matt and I are in Columbia, SC, officially on the home stretch of the trip. Last night we met with supporters in Miami at Miami-Dade College. Below is a long awaited picture of Matt and I:
Miami was especially exciting because in many ways it served as “phase 2” of the ServeNext engagement process. Let me explain.
In March, Aaron, Zach, Matt and Patrick (Schmitt, former National Field Director for ServeNext) had a retreat in Miami, during which time they had a roundtable with the start up team at City Year Miami (about 10 people). The meeting was similar to the ones Matt and I have had throughout the tour. And what we saw yesterday was the ServeNext citizen-advocate movement beginning to grow. Instead of only City Year representatives, we had the opportunity to speak with AmeriCorps VISTAs, other AmeriCorps programs, such as Public Allies, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and a handful of citizens who heard about the event through word of mouth.
Through a diversified constituency and broader coalitions, we’re able to build strength in numbers. We had a chance to see this strength in Miami, and we look forward to seeing similar action networks throughout the country. We’ll have an update on Columbia and Atlanta in the coming days. Stay tuned!
Politico writer Ben Alder has two recent articles touching on National Service in relation to the presidential campaigns. The first, McCain is slow to gain young voters, is in regards to the youth vote, and how Clinton, McCain and Obama campaigned about issues that matter under-30 voters. While Clinton and Obama have referenced National Service on the stump (and off), McCain will be looking to push that issue during the general election, as he did in a recent speech in Columbus.
And McCain’s campaign aides and supporters believe he’ll appeal to young voters in another area: national service. “John McCain has constantly spoken to the need for young Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest,” Pounder wrote in an e-mail. “This is a call that John McCain will continue to make and engage young voters on.”
The second, Hopefuls’ education plans show divides, discusses National Service in the context higher education affordability. Thus far, this is another area that Clinton and Obama have discussed at greater length than Senator McCain.
Obama touts his requirement that those who receive a tuition tax credit perform 100 hours of community service. “Something that Sen. Obama feels strongly about is community service built into the tax credit,” said Higginbottom. “He always gets the biggest response from audiences for not just giving money away but asking people to serve.”
Clinton does not require community service but, like Obama, proposes to expand opportunities for receiving college aid in exchange for participating in a national service program such as AmeriCorps.
With the National Service Express nearing its end (27 stops/cities down…3 to go), it’s really incredible to think about all of the conversations that Sean and Matt have had as they traverse America. And in those conversations, it is even more incredible to think what the experience of service will produce in those who gave their time and energy. Friday night I came across one such story.
I was flipping through the TV late Friday evening when I stopped at the Charlie Rose Show. He was interviewing Fred Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx (video below). There are many fascinating stories about the origins of this incredibly impressive company…some true, some urban legend. (One true story is that he went to Vegas to raise money , but only had a few hundred dollars on him. He met a guy on the plane who gave him a $1,000 line of credit which he turned into $25,000 in Sin City.)
Anyway, what most interested me as I listened were two things: 1) Fred’s age when he conceptualized FedEx and 2) a major source of inspiration for FedEx’s innovative model. The founder was in college and his service in the Marine Corps gave him an important insight as to how to design a new way of shipping.
The innovation inspired by the Marine Corps is that FedEx integrates ground and air transportation to key hubs to more efficiently distribute shipments. Says Smith, “The air-ground part of it came from my service in the Marine Corps.” This isn’t that exciting to hear some 35 years later, but that’s not the point. The point is that service — time spent with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet, doing important things you might not otherwise do — creates all sorts of new perspectives and insights that can be applied to a variety of fields.
I’m a huge believer that the depth of one’s innovation is dramatically enhanced by spending time in other fields to see how they operate. I’m constantly telling people that a year of service is not just for people who want a career in non-profits, education, community development, etc. Making the case to do a year of service to someone whose first passion is busines is often a challenge. Not because they are not compassionate, idealistic, or concerned citizens. Rather, I find many think that a year of service feels like they have derailed from the competitive track. We, service proponents, need to alter this perception.
Fred Smith’s story is a big help.
Near the end of this segment of the interview (min. 17), Charlie Rose asks Smith, “So you’d rather have a young man [at FedEx] who went to the Marines than a young man who went to business school?” Smith replies matter-of-factly, “I’d rather have a young man who went to the Marines then went to business school. That would be the best of all worlds.”
Watch the full interview here.
We recently got word of exciting news coming out of Minnesota from the Minnesota Conservation Corps. It sounds almost definite that the state will eliminate the tax on the Segal Education Award given to AmeriCorps members after serving their term of service. Senator Tom Bakk and Representative Tom Rukavina were the chief authors of this bill. Nice work, fellas!
Eliminating the tax on the education award is gaining momentum in other states and on the federal level. Last week, Senator Dodd announced his intention to eliminate it federally. Watch his announcement here.
What other states are working on this? Any success stories? Let us know by leaving a comment.