ServeNext.org Blog

America’s Opportunity for the “Lost Generation”

Posted by kate12907 on February 7, 2010

BusinessWeek recently came out with an article naming a new “Lost Generation” of recent grads who cannot get work regardless of how hard they try. The article argues that this initial bad footing in the job market can create frustration, disillusionment and loss of income as people are forced to take jobs below their education level and capabilities. President Obama’s new budget plan for the fiscal year 2011 may help to combat this recent problem.  The plan includes $1.416 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) an increase of $266 million or 23.1% more than enacted in for the FY 2010. According to the White House budget:

The President believes that service is central to addressing our Nation’s greatest challenges. The Corporation for National and Community Service provides an on-ramp for Americans of all ages to serve their community and country in sustained and effective ways throughout their lives […]

The recession and the impeding crisis of unemployment can create an opportunity to cultivate a new “civic” generation. Because it’s hard to find a job or get into school recent grads have the time and space in their lives to commit themselves to helping people around the country and world. Young people are becoming increasingly aware and incensed about the inequalities and disparities they see around them and many are realizing that service is the perfect way to combat these social and economic problems.

The budget request is a good start in that direction. It will not only greatly expand national service but it will also create new and fulfilling jobs for a population who needs them. The Serve America Act put AmeriCorps on a track to have 250,000 members by 2017, the new budget would fund over 105,00 members for 2011 a 20,000 increase from 2010. Many of these positions go to young people, giving these recent graduates an opportunity to work. National service is a not only great work experience but it is also emotionally fulfilling, providing people with meaning and purpose in their day-to-day lives.

The budget request includes:

  • $488 million for AmeriCorps State and National ($115 million above FY10)
  • $98 million for AmeriCorps VISTA ($1.1 million below FY10)
  • $34.6 million for AmeriCorps NCCC ($5.6 million above FY10)
  • $293.7 million for the National Service Trust Fund ($96.7 million above FY10)

The budget also requests an additional $989 million for Head Start and Early Head Start an increase of over 13%. Learn and Serve America would receive $40.2 million. $60 million would be allocated to the Social Innovation Fund and Senior Corps would receive $221 million. Also proposed is $466 million for the PeaceCorps, an increase of 11.5% in funding over the current year’s $400 million.

Until the United States recovers from the current recession unemployment will continue to plague the graduating population. Nevertheless, for many a solution can be found in national or even global service, easing the frustration and ultimately helping the “Lost Generation” find themselves in the increasingly cutthroat adult world they are entering.

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