Coalition aims to link service with ideas

Members of America Forward, an advocacy coalition of more than 65 nonprofits, participated in the ServiceNation Summit in New York to discuss ways to solve national problems by linking service and innovation.

The summit, which opened on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, brought together business, nonprofit and political leaders to discuss ways to harness volunteer service.

America Forward is co-chaired by Vanessa Kirsch, founder of venture philanthropy firm New Profit Inc.; David Gergen, former presidential adviser; Jeff Schwarz, CEO of Timberland; and Mark Nunnelly, managing director of Bain Capital.

At an afternoon panel, Kirsch and Gergen cited a growing number of Americans whose desire to serve is not being utilized effectively.

“Our citizens want to serve and our social entrepreneurs have great programs that get results, but those two things are not meeting at the scale we need,” Kirsch says in a statement.

Kirsch and Gergen led a year-long effort to educate presidential candidates and policymakers about the need to boost innovation in the nonprofit sector.

Both presidential candidates, Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain, have voiced support for the coalition’s ideas.

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