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National Education Conference Participants Pass Declaration Seek Federal Support for Service-Learning

Posted By Maddy Wegner, Monday, May 6, 2019

On Tues., April 17, more than 400 students, educators, and community partners from across the country passed a declaration to advance federal support for the civic education approach known as “service-learning”. The declaration passed with a unanimous vote during the National Service-Learning Conference held at New Foundations Charter School in northeast Philadelphia.

 

A rousing midday session featured appellate court judge and former first lady of Penn. Marjorie Rendell. She urged conference participants to “Embrace the unexpected call to the duties of citizenship,” referencing the historic 1969 Supreme Court decision that affirmed students’ first amendment rights in schools. That effort was led by 13-year-old Mary Tinker, who wore a black arm band to school protesting the Vietnam War. 

 

Like 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg, these conference participants lead initiatives in their communities and schools that take on issues ranging from the opioid epidemic to the achievement gap, applying their academic skills to critical needs. 

 

As the Declaration reads: “The needs of the Nation and the world are not only for an educated, high technology work-force, but a socially cohesive, service-oriented citizenry. Young people are necessary resources to society with inherent ideals, boundless energy, and flexibility making them important co-creators and co-workers with older adults. Therefore, we hereby affirm the need for service-learning as called for in The National and Community Service Act and respectfully call for The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service to stand boldly in support of service-learning for all ages, all communities, and places of learning.”

 

The declaration now moves to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCOS) in preparation for a final report to Congress and the President. The final report will detail policy proposals submitted by citizens and citizen service organizations supporting participation in military, national, and public service.Over the next year, NCOS is providing the public with an opportunity to comment on these and other policy proposals. (The final report will be submitted by March, 2020.)

 

To ensure politicians are hearing from champions of national service and service-learning, please consider endorsing this declaration in your response to NCOS and/or creating one of your own.

Fill out an online comment form here: https://www.inspire2serve.gov/content/share-your-thoughtsor send comments via email.

Tags:  national service  service-learning 

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President Trump’s Budget Proposes Elimination of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on February 12th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

The White House just submitted their budget proposal for fiscal year 2019. As in last year’s proposed budget, it recommends the shutdown of the federal agency that administers national service programs, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and elimination of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. These steps would end the country’s 80-year investment in national service.

“The elimination of national service funding would have significant negative effects here in Minnesota,” says NYLC CEO Amy Meuers. “In our community, numerous nonprofits have increased their capacity to serve local residents, thanks to CNCS. Through AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, organizations such as the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, Math, and Reading Corps deliver critical services in the high-need areas of education, health care, and veterans services.”

Since 1994, nearly 30,000 Minnesotans have served as either AmeriCorps or Senior Corps members, fighting the opioid epidemic and helping communities rebuild after natural disasters. They connect returning veterans to jobs, support seniors living independently, preserve public lands, foster economic opportunity, prepare students for college, and more. In exchange for their service, members enhance their job skills and earn an education award they can use to pay for higher education.

National service also has multi-partisan support. A poll in nine presidential battleground states found that 83 percent of registered voters, including 78 percent of Republicans, support increased or maintained federal investment in national service.

Fortunately, the Administration’s budget is just one step in the process to determine fiscal year 2019 funding. Congress ultimately decides which federal programs are funded and at what levels.

Congress will soon begin the FY19 appropriations process. Please send an urgent message to  members of Congress to continue, and even expand funding for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.

“We look forward to working with our congressional delegation — including Senators Klobuchar and Smith — to ensure that national service continues to provide vital support to communities across Minnesota,” says Meuers.

Last year, supporters successfully mobilized to protect funding for CNCS. “With your help, we can do it again. Thank you for taking action with us today,” Meuers adds.

(Read the full Voices for National Service statement on the President’s Budget here.)

Tags:  AmeriCorps  national service  SeniorCorps  service 

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“National Service should become the common expectation and common experience of all Americans.” Senator Harris Wofford (1926-2019)

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on March 1, 2019 on nylc.org.)

By:  James C. Kielsmeier, Ph.D., NYLC Founder/ CEO (Ret), and Senior Scholar

On Saturday, March 2, Harris Wofford will be honored at a Memorial Service at Howard University in Washington, D.C., his law school alma mater.  Harris died January 21, the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Harris Wofford will be remembered for his pivotal leadership in the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s and for the past 60 years, as America’s most important champion of nonmilitary national service and volunteerism. We have Harris to thank for key leadership of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy presidential campaign and Administration. Then without wavering, Wofford continued to build the intellectual, political and organizational leadership foundations for the modern nonmilitary national and community service movement we know today.

In 1979 Harris acknowledged an earlier proposal for the Peace Corps by US Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) in his 1986 biography (Of Kennedys and Kings, 1980) well before JFK embraced the concept. This generosity of sharing credit to advance a greater good distinguishes Harris as a rarity among modern political leaders and helps explain the success of the service movement.

I met Harris in 1989 at the National Governor’s Association annual meeting in Chicago when I was part of Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich’s delegation charged with exploring how Minnesota could grow volunteer service and service-learning. Harris represented Pennsylvania at the Chicago meetings and shared with me his national vision for civic service.  His buoyant personality and shared insights borne of decades of public policy debate and scholarship captured my attention and began three decades of friendship and collaboration.

Harris was both consistent and persistent. In his brief tenure in the US Senate from Pennsylvania (1991-94) he created legislation identifying the Martin Luther King Holiday as a  Day of Service. After being defeated for reelection, Harris was appointed by President Clinton to become CEO of the embattled Corporation for National and Community Service / AmeriCorps. Harris quickly built bridges to sympathetic Republican lawmakers including Dave Durenberger (R-MN), a key Republican national service proponent.

Harris Wofford believed that service should be introduced in schools as an effective “on ramp” to full time National Service/AmeriCorps. Service-learning was already well established in many state K-12 and higher education systems across the country in 1995. That year, National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) worked closely with Harris and the Corporation for National and Community Service and Department of Education Secretary Richard Riley to convene over 500 delegates from 30 states to create a set of core principles linking service-learning with school reform.  Again, it was Harris Wofford who was able to build the base of political leadership that allowed National Service to extend beyond its usual boundaries, in this case into K-12 education.

In 2006 Harris was the first recipient of the William James National Service Lifetime Achievement Award collectively presented by a group of twelve national service organizations and President Clinton. Harris barely took a breath before challenging the crowd in Philadelphia to do more – much more to take service further! That’s our charge today. Thank you, Harris, for charting the course and leading!

In Minnesota we continue to feel the impact of Harris Wofford’s vision through the efforts of many allied service groups. Below is a partial list of supportive organizations which collectively along with donors have made Minnesota among the top three volunteer participation states in the nation. Of special encouragement this year has been the interest of Minnesota Governor Tim Walz in volunteer service and service-learning. Like Harris Wofford, Governor knows service and service-learning as a practitioner. He’s been the top non commissioned officer in the Minnesota National Guard and used service-learning practices as a classroom teacher prior to becoming Governor.

The following is a representative sampling of Minnesota organizations engaged in volunteer service:

  • ServeMinnesota www.serveminnesota.org  is the state coordinator for full time AmeriCorps positions and is currently hiring.
  • The Minnesota Senior Corps www.mnseniorcorps.org is part of AmeriCorps and offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities for older people statewide.
  • Lead advocate for Minnesota Higher Education Service-learning is Minnesota Campus Compact www.mncampuscompact.org
  • National Youth Leadership Council www.nylca non profit organization started at the University of Minnesota in 1983 and continues to primarily support research and technical assistance for K-12 service-learning.
  • The Center for School Change www.centerforschoolchange.org is an advocacy, policy and training hub for service-learning and positive youth development with a significant track record.
  • Youthprise, a nonprofit takes on issues of equity and justice head on often using a service-learning approach. https://youthprise.org
  • Of course, the number of faith-based and civic organizations with opportunities for service is extensive. www.handsontwinCcties.org is a good place to start looking.

At this writing we have learned that the Federal funding base for National Service in Minnesota and nationally is threatened with extinction by the Trump Administration.

More information to follow next week on how proponents can respond.

Tags:  community service  featured  national service  service  service-learning  volunteerism 

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