Category Archives: AmeriCorps

Miami Update

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:

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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!

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Youth, Education & National Service

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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. 

 

 

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ServeNOLA

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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

Change/Wire highlights Peace Corps, Teach for America…

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Be The Change, Inc.’s (BTC) Change/Wire blog highlighted a couple National Service-related items today:

To get the latest from our friends with BTC, follow them here on Twitter! 

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BlogNext: CT leads Congress on National Service…

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BlogNext, the official blog of ServeNext.org, has a couple posts on Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and their focus in recent days and weeks on National Service.  If you’re from the great State of Connecticut (specifically from the Bridgeport area, which Congressman Shays represents), you should be very, very proud. 

Check ’em out!

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AmeriCorps’ Best Honored With Spirit of Service Awards

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As part of AmeriCorps Week, the Corporation for National and Community Service honored a handful of outstanding AmeriCorps members, alums, and corporate sponsors with Spirit of Service Awards in recognition of their contributions to national service — including several individuals who serve or have served in communities along the National Service Express Tour!

The awardees tackled issues such as disaster relief, homelessness, literacy, and health care, demonstrating the power of service as a solution to tough community problems. The Spirit of Service Awards pay tribute to the most outstanding participants in each of the Corporation’s programs as well as corporate or foundation partners that are role models for private sector support of national and community service.

“These individuals and organizations have gone above and beyond the call to serve their nation,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation. “Not only do they give their own time and talents, they mobilize others in their communities to tackle some of America’s toughest social problems. The represent America at its best, and we salute them for their selfless service.”

Spirit of Service Award recipients that serve or have served in cities on the National Service Express Tour include: 

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The eight-member team of AmeriCorps VISTAs serving with the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter is helping the region’s most vulnerable residents prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies, meeting the great demands of serving a population of 4 million people. Lindsay Dumas, Emerson Chen, Nikki Nichols, Jeff Schurke, Alicia Esterripa, Juan Carlos Pinzon, Francine Williams, and Chester Ng are targeting the needs of specific populations as they design and offer disaster training programs and conduct outreach activities.
  • NEW ORLEANS, LA – Former AmeriCorps*NCCC members Ashley Sloan, Greg Loushine, and Jackie Smith served at the former Charleston, S.C., NCCC campus during the 2006-07 program year. While serving on a project in St. Bernard Parish, they recognized Gulf Coast recovery efforts were hampered by the need for more volunteer housing. Their response was to create Live St. Bernard, an organization that renovated an 1,800-square foot home where up to 16 volunteers can be housed while participating in rebuilding projects. The fundraisers they organized garnered $15,000 in donations. They then led 50 volunteers to clean mold, install insulation, and paint the Live St. Bernard Home. Their efforts were chronicled by CNN and USA Today.
  • NEW ORLEANS, LA – Blue Four, a team based at the AmeriCorps NCCC Western Region campus near Sacramento, traveled to New Orleans for its first project with the Recovery School District immediately after completing training in Denver. Team members focused on their assignment, the physical rehabilitation of schools, while undertaking a variety of additional projects to leave a lasting mark on the school district and the community. Members brainstormed creative ways to increase interaction with students, teachers, and the community in general. They helped create a more pleasing environment at modular schools by painting signs and murals, using discarded tires and other materials to landscape gardens, planting flower beds, installing benches, and spray painting mascots on school grounds. They also organized two field days, seeking various donations such as play equipment and inflatable bouncy castles to entertain 925 students. The team members, led by Tiffany Zapico, include Jennifer Armstrong, Kelly Comley, Kathleen Delahunty, Ashley Duquette, Raven Hughes, Jonathan Lee, Emily Lewis, Brian Tirey, Danielle Trezek, and Miranda Williams.
  • NEW YORK, NY – As an education leader, Pearson has helped the AmeriCorps program Jumpstart grow by nearly 20 percent annually. Pearson, an international company with its U.S. headquarters in New York, and the Pearson Foundation promote Jumpstart, provide leaders for Jumpstart’s national and regional boards, and donate 100,000 books to underserved families each year. They have been the lead sponsor of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign from the beginning – a national awareness event and the largest shared-reading experience on record – helping Jumpstart raise money for young children and rallying together hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country to volunteer for literacy. Together the two organizations have worked to set a new standard for how corporate-nonprofit partnerships can impact the achievement gap in America. Pearson helps Jumpstart and communities grow and learn.

AmeriCorps Week is being marked by hundreds of events across the country, including a Habitat for Humanity blitz building project featuring 700 AmeriCorps members on the Gulf Coast and a closing ceremony today in Miami where more than 600 AmeriCorps members will restore an historic beach park.

For more information, hit up the AmeriCorps Week website, which features a database of events, news, stories, and information about how to join.

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ACTION: Dodd to introduce AmeriCorps Act of 2008 this Friday

BREAKING… BREAKING… BREAKING…

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This Friday, May 16th, U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) will introduce the AmeriCorps Act of 2008.

The AmeriCorps Act of 2008 will:

  • Raise the education Eli Segal Education Award from $4,725 to $6,185 and raise the award each subsequent year to represent the average cost of tuition and required fees at a 4-year public university;
  • Make the education award tax exempt;
  • Restore the Corporation’s previous authority to partner with other Federal agencies to use national service as a strategy to carry out Departments’ priorities; and,
  • Promote the Corporation for National and Community Service to Cabinet level status.

Since inception in 1994, AmeriCorps has encouraged over 540,000 citizens to volunteer, serve, and address the unmet needs of our nation. These citizens have given over 700,000,000 hours toward improving the lives of other Americans.

Your phone call to Washington is critical to ensuring this legislation passes, so please call your Senators today to urge them to become original co sponsors.  The deadline is tomorrow, Thursday at 4:00pm EST.

It will only take 2 minutes to call.  Here is what you need to do:

  1. Call the Capitol Operator at (202) 224-3121 to be connected to your Senators.
  2. Ask your Senators to be original co-sponsors of the AmeriCorps Act of 2008.
  3. To co-sponsor, interested offices should contact Mary Ellen McGuire with Senator Dodd’s office by email: MaryEllen_McGuire@help.senate.gov. Deadline for co-sponsors is tomorrow, Thursday at 4:00pm.
  4. Build power in numbers – ask two other people in your state to call your Senators, as well.  Three voices are louder than just one!

Thanks for taking action and helping to grow AmeriCorps!

Please forward THIS LINK to a friend and check back for details on how you can help to further support the AmeriCorps Act of 2008 and make National Service a national priority!

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