Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Future Of National Service

As you are probably aware, the Dec. 1 issue of The NonProfit Times was just released the other day.  Included in that issue was a special report entitled "2012: The End Of The World Or Nonprofit Renaissance?"  This report features six columns by major nonprofit personalities like Adrian Sargeant of the Center on Philanthropy and Ben Duda of AmeriCorps Alums. 

Duda, who works as executive director at the organization, wrote a piece about national service and volunteerism.  And sticking with the end of the world theme, he discussed what place they have in America in the future.  He argues that they will endure as long as citizens demand that they do.

AmeriCorps was kind enough to blog about the piece he wrote for us, which we are very grateful for.  You can read the entire article in his blog post, but here's an excerpt from it to whet your appetite:

I’m not buying the “end-of-days” hype. I’m fully confident the Mayan Calendar will join the list of dubious doom predictions, alongside Harold Camping’s end of the world timing in 1994 or May 21, 2011, no, wait, Oct. 21, 2011, the hysteria of the Y2K computer failures, and those classic National Enquirer cover stories from the supermarket checkout line. But since we’re talking predictions, here’s where I think we’re going as a sector and as a country.


There’s a new wave of critics on the value of national service, as the (Mayan) calendar turns to 2012, with some in the House of Representatives advancing a zero budget going forward for AmeriCorps. That is not a very good idea. Its not very good for our country, especially for a generation of young Americans who want to serve their nation, and who will one day lead this country.


Is it the end of the world? No, although it certainly feels like a re-run of a bad sitcom. National service will endure and we’ll be thankful it does as a generation of nonprofit leaders, elected officials, and entrepreneurs ascend with a common career arc that is rooted in volunteerism and defined by national service.


More than 700,000 Americans have served in AmeriCorps since 1994. For 1,700 hours in service to the country this year, a member gets $5,550 toward loan repayment or future education. That’s a good investment in our future workforce and future leaders. Best of all, it represents a $2.01 return in essential services for every federal dollar, nearly unmatched when analyzing government spending.

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