ServeNext started the year with two huge announcements. First, that we’ve merged with ServiceNation.
And last week, that we’re hiring a team full-time field organizers dedicated to fighting for national service programs in politics. The first time in history such a team will exist.
I want to provide some historical context about why this is so exciting and why applying to be one of the first full-time field organizers is a unique opportunity.The eight leaders selected will build on the tremendous work of our last two teams of part-time organizers.
I believe that the next five years is a defining moment for AmeriCorps and the entire concept of national service: will it grow to meet pressing needs or will the cuts continue?
Some will say this isn’t a fair choice because we’re in a tough, recovering economy. But it’s precisely for that reason – and the increase in social problems as a result – that make this a fair choice.
Tough times can actually accelerate the growth of programs, ideas, and investments because of urgency, the will to act, and the need for solutions. The question then is will the national service field do enough to win the moment and position itself as one of the top solutions that we know it is.
The answer could define the field for a long time. If we’re unsuccessful at this challenge, then AmeriCorps and other service programs are seen as “nice but not necessary.” If during one of America’s most trying periods national service is seen on the periphery and not a national priority, how can we make the case moving forward that it’s critical?
But at ServeNext we believe that AmeriCorps and other service programs are essential for the nation’s recovery and ability to rebuild.
The challenge is building enough public will to generate the political will in support of this belief. It won’t be easy. It requires that we overcome hyper-partisanship and the spending cuts that Congress has to make.
But doing so is not just about winning a budget battle this year or next (though that’s critical!). It’s about the role of national service in this country moving forward and cementing it as one of the nation’s go-to solutions for pressing challenges.
The idea that 80,000 annual AmeriCorps positions should be 250,000 and eventually a million. The idea of enrolling far more Baby Boomers with time and talents into Senior Corps and Experience Corps. The idea of returning Veterans continuing their service in national service positions as tremendous leaders that our communities need.
These are powerful ideas and we know they work. However, we need to relentlessly educate those in Congress to understand this too – and then relentlessly hold them accountable to support this vision.
The first team of full-time field organizers – called ServeNext Organizers – will be essential in making progress towards this vision at a time when both the present and the future of national service is at stake.
Learn more, apply, or nominate someone today: www.servenext.org/2012