ServeNext.org Blog

Senator Clinton highlights spike in National Service applications since 9/11

Posted by aaronjmarquez on November 2, 2007

At series of events today at colleges and universities throughout the Northeast including the University of New Hampshire in Durham, U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (NY-D) highlighted how eager young Americans are to give back to their country through National Service programs since 9/11.

During her remarks at each event, Clinton honored the activism and public service of students and recent graduates. In particular, she noted that between 2000 and 2006, applications to Teach for America nearly tripled and that between 2004 and 2006, applications to the AmeriCorps VISTA program jumped 50%.

“So to those who say your generation is disengaged – that you’re not as passionate and committed as we were – I say, come out to Providence and Keene and Durham and Wellesley. See how every day, young people here and across America are standing up, taking charge and making the impossible possible,” said Clinton.

Alumni of these programs know they’re more than just opportunities to serve. Jessica Shyu, a program director for Teach For America in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and author of New Terrain, makes the case for further developing these ever-popular National Service programs into leadership institutes for young professionals.

All too often, service programs are seen only as opportunities to give back to the community, build grassroots experience or pay back loans. They’re also seen as ways to “delay” reality and create “work” when you don’t get into your choice of graduate schools. Rarely are they seen as a chance to have personalized professional development in leadership.

That is how service programs (and schools) need to compete with law schools and investment banking offers. This is where we can start partnering with especially effective service programs, business schools and banks to understand how they develop large numbers of people into leaders. This is where we need to cultivate the new generation of leaders, whether they are leaders in classrooms, emergency rooms or boardrooms.

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