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South Korean Government Looks to CNCS for Guidance on National Service Models

by John Kim

With an exploding senior citizen population and a shrinking tax base, the government of South Korea sees government-sponsored national service as a valuable supplement to government assistance for its citizens in need.

On March 30th, 2010, South Korea’s Minister of Health and Welfare, Dr. Soo Hee Chin, along with high-level officials from other South Korean social service agencies, visited CNCS to meet with CEO Patrick A. Corvington and talk about national service.

National Service “Triple Bottom Line”

With a first-hand view of AmeriCorps in action during her studies in the United States, Dr. Chin developed a keen interest in replicating our national service models at home. The Minister was impressed with the CNCS framework for a “triple bottom line” return on investment of National Service – benefits to the service recipients, to National Service participants, and to the communities in which they interact.

A national service program, temporarily called “The Korea Guard,” is in preliminary stages of development at the Ministry of Health and Welfare, under Dr. Chin’s leadership. In light of this, the Minister was interested in the operations of CNCS programs, especially AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps NCCC, and Senior Corps. She especially wanted insight on:

· Key success factors in CNCS programs

· How CNCS programs are organized and run

· How to develop and plan volunteer opportunities

· How to develop partnerships with non-profits and foundations

Cross-Nation Collaboration

CNCS CEO Patrick Corvington and Minister Chin agreed to continued cooperation between their agencies. CNCS and the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare will explore staff exchanges, distance learning, and other intergovernmental coordination. Dr. Chin asked CNCS to consider an exchange that would send South Korean staff to CNCS to learn about national service models for a few weeks; in return, their Ministry would host CNCS staff who wanted to learn about the South Korean government.

Dr. Chin expressed her gratitude for the effort and time that CNCS staff put into planning the visit – a fruitful one for both CNCS and the South Korean delegation.

John Kim is the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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