Obama to Issue Call to Serve, Vow to Make National Service Important Cause of His Presidency
Posted by aaronjmarquez on December 5, 2007
This morning, U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) will issue a “Call to Serve” and detail his commitment to making national service an important cause of his presidency in a major policy address at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
The Senator’s plans would increase opportunities for Americans of all ages to serve their country. In his remarks, Obama plans to discuss his personal experience in public service, as well as his plan to call on Americans from all walks of life to serve and to build an architecture that focuses their service toward achieving leading national goals.
“Because loving your country shouldn’t just mean watching fireworks on the 4th of July; loving your country must mean accepting your responsibility to do your part to change it. And if you do stand up, I promise you that your life will be richer, and our country will be stronger.
We need your service, right now, in this moment – our moment – in history. I’m not going to tell you what your role should be; that’s for you to discover. But I am going to ask you to play your part; ask you to stand up; ask you to put your foot firmly into the current of history. I am asking you to change history’s course. And if I have the fortune to be your President, decades from now – when the memory of this or that policy has faded, and when the words that we will speak in the next few years are long forgotten – I hope you remember this as a moment when your own story and the American story came together, and history bent once more in the direction of justice.”
At the event, Senator Obama will be introduced and endorsed by former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford (D-PA), former Associate Director of the Peace Corps and former Special Assistant to the President for Civil Rights during the Kennedy Administration. Wofford was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps, played a key role in crafting and passing the legislation that led to the creation of AmeriCorps and Senator, and currently serves as an advisor to ServeNext.
Senator Obama’s plan to help all Americans serve their country would:
- Expand AmeriCorps from its current 75,000 slots to 250,000 slots, enabling the program to establish five new Corps that address some of America’s most pressing challenges: Classroom Corps, Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, Veterans Corps, and Homeland Security Corps.
- Engage retiring Americans in service on a large scale by expanding and improving Senior Corps, VISTA and other programs that connect individuals over the age of 55 to volunteer opportunities.
- Double the size of the Peace Corps from 7,800 volunteers to 16,000 by its 50th anniversary in 2011 and work to partner volunteers with people from other nations.
- Establish an America’s Voice Initiative to recruit and train Americans that are fluent speakers of local languages to bolster our public diplomacy efforts abroad
- Create a national online network, modeled on Craigslist, to connect volunteers to service and donation opportunities
- Establish a goal of having middle and high-schoolers contribute at least 50 hours a week to community service, and reach that goal through national guidelines for service-learning and additional resources for schools to develop successful programs.
- Connect disadvantaged youth to service opportunities and a pathway to success through the creation of Green Job Corps and the expansion of YouthBuild from 8,000 slots today to 50,000 slots over the next eight years.
- Create a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for Americans willing to complete 100 hours of public service a year.
- Promote College Serve-Study by immediately increasing the percentage of Federal Work-Study Program funding that goes to community service jobs from 7 percent to 25 percent, and helping colleges and universities reach a goal of 50 percent of serve-study over time.
- Expand the capacity of the nonprofit sector by establishing a Social Investment Fund Network to provide R&D capital to encourage innovation, find out what works, and expand successful programs to scale across the country.
- Create a Social Entrepreneurship Agency to enable nonprofits to build capacity through improved collaborations with government.
Senator Obama joins U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) as Presidential candidates with comprehensive National Service plans. More than half of the field on both sides of the aisle have committed to expanding AmeriCorps by at least 100,000 members.
More to come…