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 http://www.ajc.org.
“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.