President creates task force to expand national service opportunities

President George H.W. Bush assists President Barack Obama in presenting the 5000th Daily Point of Light Award on Monday to Kathy Hamilton and Floyd Kramer. The Iowa couple founded Outreach, an international hunger relief nonprofit. (@ Points of Light)

Staff Report

President Barack Obama has established an interagency task force to develop strategies to expand national service opportunities to meet national needs.

The Monday announcement followed his recognition of President George H.W. Bush’s lifetime of public service and contributions to volunteerism through Points of Light. The President’s FY 2014 budget requests a significant increase in the Volunteer Generation Fund proposes renaming the program the George H.W. Bush Volunteer Generation Fund.

The new task force will be led by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency. It will include representatives of 12 cabinet departments, the Peace Corps, National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and the White House. The task force will be co-chaired by the CEO of CNCS and the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

According to a White House announcement, the task force will create public-private partnerships to expand opportunities for Americans to serve, focus service on pressing challenges, foster social innovation, and increase the impact citizens have on our communities and nation.

Over the past year, CNCS has launched several partnerships with federal agencies, including:

  • FEMA Corps is a new 1,600 member AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps program solely devoted to disaster response and recovery.  FEMA Corps strengthens disaster capacity, prepares young people for emergency management careers, and saves significant taxpayer dollars.  FEMA Corps members provided invaluable service in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and recent tornadoes in the Midwest and have developed innovative ways to serve disaster survivors.
  • School Turnaround AmeriCorps is a partnership between the Department of Education and AmeriCorps that will bring more than 650 new AmeriCorps members into some of our lowest-performing schools this fall, where they will work to boost student academic achievement, attendance, high school graduation rates, and college and career readiness.
  • STEM AmeriCorps, which President Obama announced at the White House Science Fair this spring, is multi-year initiative to place hundreds of AmeriCorps members in nonprofits across the country to mobilize STEM professionals to inspire young people to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math to build the pipeline for future STEM careers.

The White House announcement detailed effects of national service in action, including:

  • Making an Impact:  More than 80,000 AmeriCorps members and 360,000 Senior Corps volunteers tackle the most pressing challenges facing America: educating millions of students for jobs of the 21st century, supporting individuals, families, and neighborhoods on the road to economic recovery; supporting veterans and military families; helping communities rebuild after natural disasters; improving at-risk ecosystems; and providing healthy futures.
  • Expanding Economic Opportunity:  National service helps individuals build economic independence, increases family stability, and creates more sustainable, resilient communities.   AmeriCorps provides a pathway to education and employment for those who serve.  By helping more Americans graduate, pursue higher education, and find work, national service provides immediate and long-term benefits to the community and those who serve.
  • Embracing Social Innovation:  CNCS has launched the Social Innovation Fund, a unique model that improves the lives of people in low-income communities and expands the impact of high-performing organizations using evidence-based practices. In its first three years, the Social Innovation Fund has invested in 200 nonprofit organizations in 34 states and Washington, D.C.  Through its 3 to 1 match structure, it has attracted commitments of more than $350 million in private and non-federal funds.
  • Strengthening the Volunteer Sector: CNCS strengthens the impact of America’s volunteers by bringing more individuals into service and building the capacity of nonprofits to effectively manage volunteers. The President’s FY 2014 budget requests a significant increase in the Volunteer Generation Fund, a CNCS program to strengthen volunteer management practices, and proposes renaming the program the George H.W. Bush Volunteer Generation Fund.
  • Using Tax Dollars Efficiently: National service engages citizen volunteers in problem-solving, uses competition to fund high-value programs, leverages substantial outside support, and mobilizes volunteers to multiply impact.  CNCS programs annually mobilize 4 million volunteers and leverage hundreds of millions of dollars of non-CNCS resources from business, foundations, and other sources.

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