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A Big Day for Service

by Patrick A. Corvington

One year ago today, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, and with it ushered in the most sweeping expansion of national service in a generation.

The legislation’s remarkably swift bipartisan journey though Congress reflected a national consensus that service is a powerful response to the economic and social challenges facing America today.

Fulfilling the promise of this Act has been the Corporation’s top priority. We have made excellent progress - from standing up new programs to mobilizing more Americans to serve. One year later, volunteering is up, momentum is strong, and a new vision for service is taking effect. It is a vision based on growth, innovation, and targeting resources on our nation’s pressing problems.

In implementing the law, the Corporation has sought out public input every step of the way. We’re grateful for the thousands of comments we’ve received, and our policies are better because of your ideas. Thank you for your insights, and please keep them coming.

Later today, I will be speaking to service leaders at a special celebration of the Serve America Act here in Washington DC, where we will reflect on our progress and where we need to go next. I also would like to share a short video with some of my thoughts.

It’s fitting that we mark this anniversary during National Volunteer Week, when we recognize the extraordinary contributions of volunteers and encourage more Americans to join their ranks. As President Obama said in his National Volunteer Week proclamation, America’s story is the story of volunteers, and service binds us together in a way nothing else can.

This week we also mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which grew out of the efforts of a small group of dedicated citizens who decided to take action to make cleaner, healthier communities. I encourage you to watch President Obama’s Earth Day video and to find Earth Day service projects on Serve.gov. The week closes out with Global Youth Service Day, an annual campaign that celebrates and mobilizes young people around the world to strengthen their communities through service and service-learning.

These events will shine the national spotlight on our work and remind us that we are better positioned than ever to strengthen America through service. Thanks for helping us reach this moment and for your commitment to the work ahead.

Patrick Corvington is the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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