Category Archives: Chapter Launches


Matt and I served in the Upper 9th Ward today (we were “floating” drywall, hence the picture), followed by our ServeNext New Orleans meeting at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center.  At this point, we’re exhausted.  I’ll leave you with a quick story and links to some organizations who are doing great work to help rebuild New Orleans everyday.

Story: Matt, Sean (from Safer, see below) and I went to a local establishment for some Shrimp Po Boys. (They were delicious.)  While driving through the 9th Ward on the way back to the house we were working on, we saw 3 or 4 teams of AmeriCorps volunteers working on homes all throughout the neighborhood.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to talk to any of them (we had work to do!), but it was cool to see so many volunteers out and, along with taking part in direct service ourselves, reminded Matt and I of our service “roots.”

I told you it was short.  

Here’s a link fest!

AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women age 18–24. Members live on one of four campuses, located in Denver, Colorado; Sacramento, California; Perry Point, Maryland; and Vinton, Iowa.


The mission of AmeriCorps NCCC is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service. In partnership with nonprofit organizations, state and local agencies, and faith-based and other community organizations, members complete service projects throughout the region they are assigned.

Drawn from the successful models of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and the U.S. military, AmeriCorps NCCC is built on the belief that civic responsibility is an inherent duty of all citizens and that national service programs work effectively with local communities to address pressing needs.


Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans is currently operating 51 programs, several of which are geared directly toward hurricane recovery. Our nearly 1,000 staff members have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of residents in Southeast Louisiana. As we rebuild our region, we are committed to bring a vision and a hope to those who need our aid.

Green Light New Orleans is an environmental organization addressing global warming and rising energy costs in the New Orleans Area.

Born and raised in Switzerland, musician Andi Hoffmann moved to New Orleans in 1993. He founded the organization in 2006 as a response to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. “I had to do something to help New Orleans get back on its feet again”, he said, “And I knew it had to be beneficial to the city of New Orleans as well as to our planet”. “We calculated the pollution we created by touring to Europe and figured out how many CFLs had to be installed to offset the pollution.” With each concert ticket sold at shows in europe people were asked to donate to Green Light New Orleans. The audience immediately suppported the idea and the fundraiser was a big success .

With the support of private donations, sponsors and supporters Green Light New Orleans is rapidly growing to meet the rising demand created by New Orleanians’ desire to save energy and help the planet. 

Hands On New Orleans Do something good. Be Hands On.

Good work happens through Hands On New Orleans. Get started with Hands On New Orleans, and we will connect you with a volunteer opportunity that makes a meaningful, positive rewarding change in New Orleans.

What can you do?

Help re build a home. house. Tutor a child. Care for abandoned pets. Clean a park. Renovate a school. Lead a volunteer group. Learn about and take action on community issues. Whether you are visiting New Orleans, or work and live here, Hands On New Orleans offers a variety of ways to get involved while meeting your availability and interests.

Volunteer for a one-time project . 
Volunteer , or volunteer for a few weeks. 
Volunteer after work, or between classes. Volunteer alone, with family, friends or co-workers.

When you volunteer with Hands On New Orleans, you join people from all backgrounds and experiences. You get a chance to explore issues that shape our community and develop your leadership and job skills. 

SAFER takes the direct approach to rebuilding the city of New Orleans, offering free labor to people who would otherwise be unable to afford the cost of repairing their homes. We communicate directly with our families about their needs and their hopes for their rebuilt homes, and with community leaders and organizations about their plans for revitalizing their neighborhood. We realize that rebuilding can be a huge challenge, especially for homeowners who have few funds or also have the responsibility of a job and caring for a family. SAFER’s approach to rebuilding is to try to make the return home as simple as possible by helping the family in every aspect of rebuilding: applying for loans, getting building permits, and finding skilled labor to repair plumbing, electrical work, and roofing, among other tasks. Once the family is home, we can provide further assistance, such as finding a good daycare or school and getting money donated for groceries, furniture, and/or appliances. 


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Filed under AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps*NCCC, Chapter Launches, Stories of Service Impact

DNC Superdelegate & Friend of ServeNext lobbied by Obama’s Hollywood

Democratic National Committee Superdelegate and friend of ServeNext Madison, Awais Khaleel, has become quite popular over the last few weeks.  After putting up a YouTube video (see above) asking his peers across the country what to do with the “power” of being a superdelegate in the historic 2008 Presidential Primary, he has received lots of feedback — including from actor Kal Penn, star of Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and National Arts Policy Committee Member for the Barack Obama for President campaign.   

Mr. Penn is one of the many prominent candidate supporters Ms. Wolfe, 25, a law student at the University of Detroit-Mercy and Mr. Khaleel, 23, a junior at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, have heard from recently. But the two of them haven’t been swayed just yet. They posted a YouTube video two weeks ago asking for input from other college students on how to vote.

“Guess who might decide the leader of the free world?” Mr. Khaleel asks in the clip. “Me!”

A friend of Reilly Goodwin (our Lead Organizer at the University of Wisconsin), Khaleel took the time out of his busy schedule to speak at the ServeNext Chapter Launch event in Madison last month.  His message centered on our unique moment in American history and the grassroots excitement now growing around the expansion of National Service programs.  Interestingly, Penn’s open letter to Khaleel included college affordability, volunteerism, and the call for young people to play an active role in our democracy. 

State after state, I have been meeting young people who, for the first time in their lives, are not simply voting, but volunteering for a campaign. After being told for years that their voices don’t count for much, they have risen up and joined us in securing a better world for all Americans. Many of these folks cannot afford a college education. Many lack health care. Some are caring for ailing parents. Others are first-generation Americans. Overwhelmingly, they’ve answered the challenge that Senator Obama has given them: to take responsibility and become involved. I ask you not to ignore them any longer.

While we know that Khaleel won’t be swayed by celebrities, Penn’s words reinforce the feeling among the National Service Community that the time to expand AmeriCorps is upon us… that there is a perfect storm brewing.  We wish Awais the best of luck and, regardless of which campaign he chooses to back, we hope that he’ll bring the passion, idealism, and can-do spirit of our generation with him to Denver this summer for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.


Filed under 30-in-60 Bus Tour, Chapter Launches, Human Interest, National Service in the News

Back in the Saddle

That right there is an official Standard Black Trooper saddle.  More or less unrelated to our next bus adventure, but fits with the theme of a great weekend in the mountains.

Last night Matt and I had a ServeNext meeting in Denver at the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado‘s office.  We had a good group join us, including the Director of Projects & Training for AmeriCorps *NCCC in Denver, the Colorado AmeriCorps Alums Chapter leaders and a group of AmeriCorps *NCCC alums.  Some really great things are happening in the Denver area, especially regarding disaster preparation and environmental stewardship.  The AmeriCorps Alums chapter in Denver is doing some great things, including an Issues Forums every 2 months, social events, and helping lead the efforts for the “AmeriCorps Week” (May 11-18) Kick Off.  The Alums will also be recognized in a pre-game, on field ceremony at the Colorado Rockies home game on May 17th.

We’re headed to Seattle this morning, having just celebrated our 1 month anniversary on the road.  We’ve got an exciting month ahead of us and we’re looking forward to seeing more of the country and meeting more people looking to move National Service forward.  We’ll send an update during our 31 hour adventure to Seattle… hopefully we won’t run into any more tornados!

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Filed under 30-in-60 Bus Tour, Chapter Launches

In Our Own Words: Gregory Scott, New York Urban League

Every night, Sean and I are meeting some pretty incredible people and organizations on the National Service Express Tour.  As much as we can, we’re going to try to share the stories of these incredible people right here on the blog. 

On Thursday night in the Big Apple, we had the privelege and pleasure of talking with Gregory Scott of the New York Urban League, one of our event’s co-sponsors.  We asked if Gregory would recap the ServeNext NYC Chapter Launch event and also highlight some of the amazing work that the New York Urban League is engaged in over the next few months.  Push play above to hear what Greg had to say! 

Visit the New York Urban League online to learn more or get involved with in any of their upcoming events.  Special thanks also go out to the American Jewish Committee for hosting and handling the logistics of Thursday evening’s event and to Caroline Ross and Mat Hanson for reaching out to the National Service community.  What’s not to love about NYC?! 

(Besides the Yankees…)

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Filed under Chapter Launches, Human Interest, In Our Own Words

American Jewish Commitee’s “Imagining America”

Last Thursday, Matt and I were hosted by Access, the American Jewish Committee’s Youth Professional association, in New York City.  Joined by the the New York Urban League’s Young Professionals and the New York City chapter of AmeriCorps Alums, we discussed ways in which service as a shared experience can break down barriers between individuals and communities.  Look for a video update in the coming days! 

Last year, the American Jewish Committee released a report titled “Imagining America: Making National Service a National Priority.”  Click here to read the full report.

A national task force sponsored by the American Jewish Committee is urging that a year of voluntary national service become the rule, not the exception, for young American adults, ages 18 to 25. The task force recommendations are detailed in its report, Imagining America: Making National Service a National Priority. “At least one year of full-time, intensive service, either military or civilian, should be the standard, not the exception,” concludes the task force. The full report is available at

“We want to invigorate the conversation so that our political leaders will partner with businesses and universities to make a solid investment in this effort,” said Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus of George Washington University, where he is now a professor of public service. Trachtenberg chaired the AJC-sponsored task force. “The goal is to enlist one million participants per year.”

The 30-member task force met over the course of the past year to assess the history of national service in the United States, existing programs such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, and ways to greatly expand the national service efforts to make them available to a diverse group of young adults across the country. Task force members included leaders in business, education, politics and the not-for-profit service sector.

“Service programs link the rights and privileges of being American with a clear sense of responsibility,” states the report. “By helping to create habits of civic engagement in young people that last a lifetime, they provide benefits to both participants and society.”

Existing service programs receive more applicants than they can take, and they are not always able to provide the financial and other type of assistance to draw young adults from diverse backgrounds and with diverse abilities. A broad expansion of the national service concept will require a commitment of support from the nation’s business, education and public sectors.

The task force is calling on Democrats and Republicans to make a commitment to civilian national service part of their party platforms.

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Thousands congregate in Pittsburgh as ServeNext rolls into town…

AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma

When we first added a National Service Express Tour stop in Pittsburgh on the eve of the Pennsylvania Presidential Primary, we knew there would be some buzz… but really, we were blown away. 

Students and community members arrived (at the Peterson Events Center) as early as 11 a.m. to claim their seats for the event, which began at 7:30 p.m. The line snaked from the entrance at the top of the hill, past Pennsylvania Hall and Panther Hall, down the hill past the Chevron building and all the way to Fifth Avenue.   

We had 41 people in New Hampshire for our Tour Kickoff Party, but this was a horse of a different color!  When all 10,000 citizens were through security, seated in the arena, and the event finally started, the event’s guest speaker inspired the crowd by appealing to their sense of patriotism with a common-sense, solutions-oriented approach to making college more affordable by addressing pressing community needs.  It’s the kind of message that folks in cities across the country have come to expect from these ServeNext events and exactly why crowds over the last 2 weeks have built. 

For college students, Obama said he plans to give $4,000 tuition credits to students who volunteer at places like homeless shelters, which is similar to the AmeriCorps program initiated by the Clinton administration.

“We invest in you, you invest in America,” Obama said.

Obama?!  Oh yeah… U.S. Senator Barack Obama was down the street from our ServeNext event for a final campaign rally before Tuesday’s vote.  A small, but mighty crowd gathered at Panera Bread to strategize for ServeNext around key Congressional races in Pennsylvania. 

And you know what?  They’re psyched about the work ahead and the road we’ll travel to get there together.  Fueled by various National Service experiences and united by a passion for expanding opportunities for their peers to serve, ServeNext Pittsburgh is off the ground and actively organizing.

To learn more about the efforts of ServeNext Pittsburgh, click here.  To learn more about the “other” event down the street with Senator Obama, click here.

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Filed under Chapter Launches, College Affordability, National Service in the News

Our Own Words: ServeNext Chicago Chapter Launch


Filed under Chapter Launches