Going on this week (right now, in fact) is the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, hosted by Points of Light. The conference brings together folks from all sides of the political spectrum (let’s just say that Karl Rove and Donna Brazile both have prominent roles) to discuss what’s great about volunteerism, and the great impact that service can have in bringing people together to help one another.
A new report from the Corporation for National and Community Service (h/t to NCoC for this link) finds that volunteering can often lead to increased employment opportunities. This builds off of NCoC’s report from 2011-12 which found strong connections between a state’s civic health and its economic vitality.
The report, Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment, finds that volunteers are 27 percent more likely to find a job after being unemployed than non-volunteers. Volunteering also improves the job prospects of those without a college degree (51 percent higher than non-volunteers) and those living in rural areas (55 percent higher than non-volunteers).
Business, government, and nonprofit leaders need to consider how their policies and actions can “strengthen social cohesion and provide opportunities for volunteerism,” while citizens should take the opportunity to lead volunteer projects and neighborhood efforts.
Read the full report via CNCS: Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment
We’re really excited about the Conference on Volunteering and Service coming up from June 19-22 in Washington, D.C. National service remains a cornerstone of the democracy movement, and although federal programs have been mentioned in budget cuts, the conference will highlight the ways in which service strengthens communities, and will also give a forum for folks to present and discuss new ideas.
Check out the conference’s website, and read more about it from Points of Light below –
Don’t miss the world’s premier conference for nonprofit, government, corporate, education and faith based organizations. Convened by Points of Light, the Conference on Volunteering and Service offers a dynamic, meaningful learning experience through more than 150 focused workshops, large group plenaries and networking opportunities.
This year’s Conference will be held in Washington, D.C., June 19 – 22, 2013.
The values we share as citizens are more powerful than the issues that divide us. We believe that people are tired of political and cultural divisiveness and the sense of paralysis and powerlessness that comes with it. People want to do something that makes the world better, particularly their corner of it. This Conference will be about the power of service to bridge differences and bring people together to do what people the world over do best – help one another.
The Conference on Volunteering and Service is a don’t-miss experience for social entrepreneurs to exchange ideas about what’s working and generate new ideas to create a brighter path for the future.You’ll learn how to leverage the power of individuals to address critical issues in their communities.
Expert presenters will engage participants in hands-on sessions to explore topics relevant to volunteerism and service.
Early bird registration rates expire Friday, April 26. Learn more and register at http://www.volunteeringandservice.org
In celebration of AmeriCorps Week, Jonathan Greenblatt of the White House Office of Civic Innovation posted a strong endorsement of the program on the White House blog:
Service is a proven solution for our nation whether national service members are providing disaster relief and recovery services in the AmeriCorps NCCC and its FEMA Corps unit; enhancing educational outcomes through teaching, tutoring, or mentoring efforts; or supporting veterans and military families with re-entry and employment services.
AmeriCorps is a program that’s right for the times in which we live and demonstrates what happens when our nation invests in “getting things done.”
The White House thinks highly of AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service, which serves the program, corporation, and country well, but that will not save it from budget cuts in light of the Sequester ™.
Nonprofit Quarterly’s Rick Cohen took a closer look at the impact of the sequester on AmeriCorps specifically, citing information from the National Priorities Project and Young Invincibles that AmeriCorps will likely see a $38 million cut in funding (much better than it would have fared under the proposed Republican budget, which would have cut the program completely, Cohen notes).
AmeriCorps and CNCS have options in terms of how to deal with the cuts. They might look to defer some payments, (which could help locally based partner nonprofits) and will cut staff as a last resort. AnnMaura Connelly of City Year tweeted that the sequester could cut up to 4,200 AmeriCorps positions nationwide.
National service plays an important role in our democracy, and will continue to do so with or without AmeriCorps operating at its current levels. However, the sequester could set back a vital government program that puts folks to work in areas of great need.
Congressman Joe Kennedy took to the House floor to speak of AmeriCorps’ importance and how sequestration would hurt vital programs (h/t Save Service):
As an AmeriCorps alum (VISTA represent!), the program not only provided a chance to get some hands on work I might not have received out of college, but it also gave me the opportunity to enhance the work being done in my community.
Monday of this week wasn’t just Inauguration Day, and it wasn’t just Martin Luther King Day — it also capped off a weekend dedicated to national service. Our friends at Points of Light played an integral role in the proceedings, along with the Corporation for National and Community Service and Target.
Ten-thousand volunteers (along with Vice President Joe Biden) at the Points of Light event put together over 100,000 care packages for military members overseas, while the First Family volunteered at a Washington, DC elementary school. Across the country people volunteered and gave some time for national service on this MLK weekend.
Check out a full recap of the day from Points of Light. Did you participate in any service events this weekend?
The Campaign for Stronger Democracy is delighted to announce the hiring of its new executive director, Peter Hardie. Peter has already begun his work at the Campaign, and brings with him extensive experience from both local and national electoral campaigns, in a variety of roles including field and leadership positions.
“There may be nothing more challenging than genuinely democratic communities; there is also nothing more transcendent, or more closely linked to our health and sustainability as a nation, indeed, as a global society,” said Peter. “The Campaign for Stronger Democracy is a community of folks from divergent fields and practices who all stand on this fundamental truth of democracy: the more the better. I can’t be more pleased and honored than to have been asked to lead this initiative.”
Peter recently completed a strategic thinking process with Demos/The American Prospect, and previously served as Executive Director of the Pushback Network, a national network of grassroots organizations developing electoral and voter engagement strategies for social change. Peter has also helped lead TransAfrica Forum, an international advocacy organization, and worked as a consultant to the Ford Foundation.
A graduate of Harvard University and labor and community activist upon leaving college, he helped shape many grassroots community initiatives around peace and justice, violence against women, youth involvement and public schools. He enjoyed teaching in a Boston public high school and working with activists on public school reform efforts. As a union member and staff person for a number of unions, he organized new members, negotiated contracts and addressed issues of workplace democracy.
Peter is also principal of Wayfinding Organizational Consulting, incorporating principles of community and discovery into the dynamics of organization, social justice and social impact.
“As father to a seventeen-year-old son, I know only too well the intrinsically human quest for democracy,” said Hardie. “We want to be heard. We want to shape and craft our surroundings. We want to grow, and we want others to grow alongside us. We want a stake, and a say.”
Now a couple of days removed from the 2011 State of the Union address, we take a look around at some of the reactions from the democracy arena:
- National Conference on Citizenship points out President Obama’s stressing of civic participation and public works as ways to jumpstart the country. NCoC brings the speech back to their report from 2011 on the connection between civic health and unemployment.
- The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights released a statement touching on the importance of closing the student opportunity gap; the loss of public sector jobs; and the pay gap between men and women, and women of color in particular.
- Public Campaign notes that the President pushed for an end to lobbyist bundling, which they say is a positive step. However, United Republic mentions that the President also receives bundled contributions, though not from lobbyists.
- Sunlight Foundation also touches on lobbying, saying that it is very unlikely for President Obama’s proposal from his speech to pass both houses of Congress. Instead, Sunlight suggests focusing on increasing lobbyist disclosure and tightening requirements for who must register as lobbyists.
- TechPresident has a rundown of some of the ways in which technology enhanced the State of the Union viewing experience, including the White House’s interactive feed, and twitter reactions.
- From ColorOfChange, executive director Rashad Robinson says that the organization applauds the creation of a governmental unit to investigate banks, but still demands full accountability from banks.
- In the Huffington Post, Sayu Bhojwani of the New American Leaders Project said that although President Obama spoke about the need for immigration reform, his actions so far in his presidency have not backed up what he has said.
- NoLabels pushed for Senators and representatives to sit together in the House during the speech. The New York Times reports that not many chose to intermingle with the other party (though most who did were Senators)
- In Nonprofit Quarterly, Rick Cohen examines the omission of the nonprofit sector from the speech.
- Research!America says that the President’s call for enhanced training in science and technology is a very positive development, but notes that funding must be preserved for progress to truly be made.
- Politico reports that one of the items President Obama spoke about in the speech, the STOCK Act, is coming closer to getting a vote and heading to the President for a signature. The bill would ban insider stock trading by members of Congress.
- Finally, Colorlines has word clouds for all three of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses.
The Campaign for Stronger Democracy just sent out our December newsletter,which is packed with the latest headlines from across the democracy reform community.
If there are important headlines or events that we missed, please let us know about it in the comments section below.