ServeNext.org Blog

Fighting the Zero from Capitol Hill to Tom Brokaw

Posted by Zach Maurin on November 7, 2011

Fight the Zero rally participants lining the street on Capitol Hill

Last Thursday, November 3rd, 75 college students, AmeriCorps alums and service supporters descended upon Capitol Hill for the Fight the Zero rally. We were all a little sleepy since it was 8am, but we were energized by our mission of showing Congressional leaders that AmeriCorps is a valuable program that can be a solution for youth unemployment (currently at 20%).

We didn’t want it to be a typical rally, so we broke into three groups and stood at the Capitol South Metro station, on the corner of 1st and C street (right outside the entrance to the Cannon House Office building) and on the corner of 1st and Independence (one of the busy streets Congressional leaders have to cross to get from their office building to the Capitol).

The energy of the day was amazing as we stood in lines of bright red shirts. People chanted, handed out fact cards and shared their stories of service. Members of Congress and staffers stopped to ask questions or to show their support.

Around 9:30 we moved to the steps of Capitol Hill and took some pictures and then we went into the Rayburn House of Representatives office building. Inside we held a short brainstorming session about our next steps and what strategies people thought would be effective.

At 10:30, Representatives Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut) and Doris Matsui (California) came and spoke to us. We were very lucky to have them because they are both big champions of service. DeLauro is the ranking chair on the Appropriations Subcommittee that handles funding for AmeriCorps and Matsui is Co-chair of the National Service Caucus. David Price, the other Co-chair of the Service Caucus sent a statement that was read. All three were very inspiring and urged us to keep organizing and push back against people who want to cut AmeriCorps.

Everyone left the rally pumped up.  The rally had been a success, but the day wasn’t over yet!

After taking everything back to the ServeNext office, grabbing some coffee and going to class, I met up with a few Fight the Zero supporters at Politics and Prose to hear Tom Brokaw speak. In his new book, Time of Our Lives, Brokaw talks about the need for American’s to re-enlist as citizens and mentions national service as a good option. Some AmeriCorps alums visited Brokaw at a New York book signing event and our hope is that if enough people talk about AmeriCorps at these events, Brokaw will come out publically supporting AmeriCorps as a specific policy solution for his ideas.

The Politics and Prose event was packed but an AmeriCorps supporter got a question in, asking Brokaw if he supports AmeriCorps. Brokaw said he supports national service and public/private partnerships.

We went home pretty tired, but hopeful. The rally and Brokaw event were just the beginning of Fight the Zero. The next few weeks are going to be critical to showing our Congressional leaders that AmeriCorps can’t be cut.

You can get involved in Fight the Zero (even if you don’t live in DC) and support AmeriCorps. Sign the petition at www.fightthezero.org and check out ServeNext’s Facebook page for updates on upcoming events and actions.

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