Category Archives: College Affordability

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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Filed under AmeriCorps, College Affordability, National Service in the News

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

Iowa considers making AmeriCorps living allowance and Segal Education Award tax-exempt

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Yesterday, Sandra Hansen, Executive Director of Iowa Campus Compact, sent us an email with news of some exciting political happenings in the Hawkeye State!

Each year college students spend millions of hours volunteering to make their communities a better place to live. … Iowa has the chance to set a new precedent for National Service by exempting the living allowance and Education Award from being taxed. … This is something that needs to be acted on quickly.

If you live in Iowa and would like to take action or simply want to learn more about this exciting piece of legislation, click here for text of the entire email.  The National Service Express will get into Des Moines in just a couple short weeks.  We’ll have the full story for you then! 

This is not the first time that the value of the Eli Segal Education Award, given at the successful completion of AmeriCorps members’ term of service, has been under scrutiny.  Originally designed to give civic-minded Americans access to and opportunity through higher education, the Segal Education Award has, over time, lost its value with the rising costs of college.  Last week, we met Devin and Peter, who are on a similar crusade in Minnesota.

In October, U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton announced her plan to increase the Segal Education Award from $4,725 to $10,000 at Plymouth State University.  Following the event, Senator Clinton also signed the ServeNext Presidential Pledge to Expand National Service, which supports an increase in AmeriCorps’ ranks by 100,000 members beflre the end of the next President’s first term.

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The Twin Cities: A Bedrock of National Service Support

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Today’s Minneapolis chapter launch was awesome.  Fred and the gang couldn’t make it, but 12 citizens of the Minneapolis community took time out of their Sunday to learn about ServeNext and share their knowledge of the Twin Cities.  While this was our smallest event so far, the quality of the people in the room and the conversation blew Matt and I away.  Starting with our amazing hosts — Warren Hanson and Denise Mayotte — who provided 3 different chili’s (as well as a bed for me since Thursday), we discussed various ways AmeriCorps is making an impact in Minnesota, aided by Stacey’s insight as a ServeMinnesota program officer.  We also met one of the co-leaders of the AmeriCorps Alums Twin Cities chapter.

At the beginning of the day, we were a bit worried about the turnout for the event.  This was our first event without a strong base before the tour, and it was on a Sunday afternoon.  Our concerns were put to rest as the event began.  The size of the group allowed everyone in the room to grow their understanding of AmeriCorps within Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as the national movement.  Some great ideas were thrown around: ways to leverage the Republican National Convention in September, engaging gubernatorial candidates about state support for National Service programs and different ways to share information throughout the ServeNext community among others.  

One of the highlights of the evening was hearing from Devin Clarkson and Peter Caldwell, two gentlemen working on behalf of the Independent Concerned Citizens and advocating for the removal of Minnesota’s state tax on the education award.  Check out their video.

We’ll have more info about their campaign in the coming days at BlogNext.

Matt and I are getting ready to jump back on the proverbial bus for chapter launches in Madison and Chicago on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, before heading back East for the rest of the April.  Both those events are looking great, if you’re in either area feel free to join us! 

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Filed under Chapter Launches, College Affordability, Stories of Service Impact