Thursday, September 25, 2008

Youth Come Out For International Coastal Clean-Up Day

On the third Saturday of every September, volunteers worldwide set aside time for one common purpose: to help clean up our oceans and beaches. This movement, known as International Coastal Clean-Up Day, started in 1986 in South Padre Island, Texas, when one woman organized a mass beach cleanup of 2,800 Texans. In the 22 years since that day, the movement has grown to include more than six million volunteers in 127 countries and in all 55 U.S. states and territories.

Youth volunteers have played a substantial role in this yearly event’s success. Approximately 2,000 sacks of garbage were hauled out of Manila Bay in the Philippines on September 15, 2008, by volunteers. Among government workers and representatives of the private sector, youth activists and organizations were present, including high school and university students, as well as members of the East Asian Youth Network (EASy), a group of young people, committed to protecting and managing the Seas of East Asia.

In Massachusetts, International Coastal Clean-Up day presented an opportunity for service learning. Young members of the My Turn organization, a non-profit working with youth aged 14-21, took time out of their day on September 24 to gather trash, clean, and collect data in the Nahant Beach Reservation. While helping to clean up their environment, these teens learned about the importance of protecting marine and coastal areas.

Youth in South Africa took the whole week to clean up rivers, canals and beaches in their country, following the tagline “Sea change starts with you!” Schools from Cape Town partnered with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa and the Save our Seas Foundation to clear litter from various waterways while looking at river health and the effects of inland littering on bodies of water.

The youth from the Philippines, Massachusetts and South Africa join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, young and old, that go to work each year removing millions of kilograms of litter from waterways and beaches around the world. But it doesn’t end there. By cleaning up the coasts, young people are seeing first-hand the negative impact that human culture can have on the environment and the impact of their own actions. A prime example of service learning, International Coastal Clean-Up Day improves our oceans by leaps and bounds, while inspiring a sense of responsibility for the environment. Global events like these demonstrate that the youth of the world can decide, to some degree, the state of the world that they will inherit.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Day of Action

Service Nation Summit 2008 may be over but the call for young Americans to service has not. The journey towards a unified service movement and a new America begans September 11 in New York City and will continue to the rest of America on the 27th of September which has been designated "Service Nation Day of Action"

Thousands of communities around the nation will mobilize on September 27, the Day of Action, to demonstrate the impact that service has – and could have - upon our country and the power of citizens to create large scale change.

Why September 27th?

This date was specifically chosen because it is firstly, the day after the first Presidential debate, the day after Congress adjourns for recess, and therefore most congressional members will be in their home districts on this day and lastly, National Public Lands Day, a day to highlight and celebrate our public green spaces across the country.

There are currently "2645 events planned" for this day.

Some of the events happening are:

New York, NY: HealthCorps invites you to join Dr. Oz, staff and friends for a special Zumba fitness class with over 200 people at the Jacob J. Javits Convention Center on the Day of Action. Learn more about HealthCorps’ proactive health movement and get tips on eating smart and staying fit for a healthy, wealthy America. WB and NY One will be there to cover the event.

Miami, FL: Pelican Harbor Clean-up - Come out for a fun-filled beach clean up day! Volunteers will take a short boat ride on the 49 passenger Pelican Island Skipper catamaran to Pelican Harbor. Volunteers will work on the island cleaning up debris to help keep the bays and beaches beautiful. At the end of the morning volunteers take a boat ride around the island and northern Biscayne Bay.

To find an amazing event in your community, go to

Friday, September 19, 2008

Agents for Change in Addressing Community Challenges

On September 8, 2008, President Bush addressed a large crowd of service volunteers on the south lawn of the White House. He took this opportunity to show his appreciation for the time and effort given by members of the military, AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps and his initiatives, the USA Freedom Corps and the Citizen Corps.

President Bush addressed this “army of compassion” thanking them for their heartfelt gift of service. It is always encouraging to hear the President’s support for service programs throughout the US and internationally. However, the remarks of President Bush demonstrate shift in rhetoric regarding the role of service corps in the US and worldwide. While earlier presidents regarded service as a significant contribution to solving community problems and a responsibility held by all sectors of society, the current rhetoric addresses service instead as a compassionate act of good will.

It is important to note that the foundations for service in the US were not established as “armies of compassion,” but to fulfill the responsibility of all people to address the challenges facing communities in the US and worldwide. When President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, creating AmeriCorps among other things, he discussed the desire he witnessed on the part of young people to provide for their communities. He talked about getting things done and the responsibility of Americans to engage in service to meet the challenges of communities throughout the US, saying:

I hope, believe, and dream that national service will remain throughout the life of America not as a series of promises but a series of challenges across all the generations and all walks of life to help us to rebuild our troubled but wonderful land.

President George H.W. Bush promoted the thousands points of light (eventually the Points of Light Institute) of volunteering in the US. In his inaugural address in 1989, he discussed US volunteering with a sense of duty and responsibility.

I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.

In 1961, President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924 creating the Peace Corps. Through this order he authorized sending Americans overseas to help other countries meet their urgent needs for skilled manpower. At the signing of this order, President Kennedy also discussed the critical needs Peace Corps volunteers will meet through their service and the responsibilities of all Americans to contribute to global development.

We will only send abroad Americans who are wanted by the host country--who have a real job to do--and who are qualified to do that job. Programs will be developed with care, and after full negotiation, in order to make sure that the Peace Corps is wanted and will contribute to the welfare of other people. Our Peace Corps is not designed as an instrument of diplomacy or propaganda or ideological conflict. It is designed to permit our people to exercise more fully their responsibilities in the great common cause of world development.

Finally, in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, signed into existence the Community Conservation Corps to bring together a need for jobs and a need for public works. President Clinton described the contribution the CCC made to communities in his 1993 remarks:

Sixty years ago in the depths of depression, Franklin Roosevelt created the CCC and gave Americans the chance not only to do meaningful work so that they could feed themselves and their families but so that they could build America for the future. And down to this day there is not a State in this country that is untouched by the continuing impact of the good work done by the people who labored in the CCC.

The words of former President’s as they created the service corps in history, exemplify their vision of service members as agents for change in addressing challenges faced by communities across the country and throughout the world. Their role is more than just acting with compassion, but also serving the community, investing in service and meeting critical needs.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Voices For National Service Draft Support Letter

*cross-posted from Voices for National Service eNewsletter*

Support of S. 3487, the Serve America Act

Members of ServiceNation and Voices for National Service have drafted a letter of support for the Serve America Act, legislation introduced last week by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The support letter is currently circulating for sign-on, and final copies will be shared with other Members of the Senate to encourage them to co-sponsor S. 3487. The goal is to have at least 100 organizations signed on to this support letter by Friday, September 19.

To add your organization’s name to the growing list of signers, email Greg Propper at Please provide your organization's full name and the name of your CEO or Executive Director.

Click here to review the text of the support letter that will be sent from leaders in the national service field and movement.

Current signers include:

  • Alan Khazei, Founder & CEO, Be the Change, Inc.
  • AnnMaura Connolly, Member, Voices for National Service Steering Committee
  • Bill Basl, Chair, American Association of State Service Commissions
  • Eric Schwarz, President & CEO, Citizen Schools
  • Jacqueline Johnson, Director, Connecticut Commission on Community Service
  • James Cleveland, President, Jumpstart
  • Jason Patnosh, Associate Vice President, National Association of Community Health Centers
  • Jill Pasewalk, CEO, Camp Fire USA
  • John Bridgeland, CEO, Civic Enterprises, LLC
  • Nelda Brown, Executive Director, National Service-Learning Partnership
  • Marguerite Kondracke, President & CEO, America's Promise Alliance
  • Mark Lazzara, Executive Director, Western New York AmeriCorps
  • Martin Weinstein, Executive Director, Bay Area Community Resources, CA AmeriCorps Alliance
  • Michael Brown, Co-Founder & CEO, City Year
  • Michael Rubinger, President, LISC
  • Michelle Nunn, President & CEO, Points of Light Institute
  • Paul Schmitz, President & CEO, Public Allies
  • Sally Prouty, President & CEO, The Corps Network
  • Wendy Kopp, Founder & CEO, Teach for America

Legislative Update Congressional Hearing on National Service Scheduled

The House Education and Labor Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled "Strengthening the Country’s Commitment to National Service" on Wednesday, September 24. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. in room 2175 Rayburn House Office Building. Witnesses to be announced.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Senators Kennedy & Hatch Introduce Serve America Act

*cross-posted from Voices for National Service eNewsletter*

On Friday, September 12th, Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced S. 3487, The Serve America Act. A major legislative initiative to expand and improve domestic and international service opportunities, the bill will recruit Americans of all ages to do service work in health, education, environmental protection and anti-poverty programs. Senator Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement, the “Serve America Act” will “connect every generation through service, and enable them to help tackle a wide range of national challenges, from the dropout crisis that plagues our schools to the lack of health care in our neediest communities to the energy and environmental crises that threatens our planet.” Senator Hatch said, “By harnessing the talents and efforts of the American people, faith-based groups and nonprofit organizations, we can empower more people, improve more communities and tackle more of our nation’s greatest challenges.”

S. 3487 will expand opportunities for people to serve their communities at every stage of life, from students and working adults to retirees. The original cosponsors include both presidential candidates, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL), as well as Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT).

The introduction of S. 3487 is the first step towards the passage of a comprehensive national service reauthorization bill that will build off the success of the existing national service programs. Programs like AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America have not been reauthorized in 15 years and legislation is needed to help strengthen and expand the federally supported service initiatives, stimulate community volunteerism, and increase accountability and efficiency within the administration of the programs. S.3487 builds and expands the national service infrastructure to further address critical community needs while developing civic competencies in those who participate.

Click here to read the Press Release from Senators Kennedy and Hatch upon the introduction of their bill.

Click here for an executive summary of S.3487, The Serve America Act.

Click here for S.3487's bill text.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Youth - towards a new agenda in the Middle East and North Africa

Youth are becoming an increasing priority for countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Youth are an asset that if properly nurtured can stimulate the economic and social development of the region. Countries are searching for effective policies to capitalize on this youth asset and an increasing number of governmental and nongovernmental institutions in the region are involved in youth related-work.

At the regional level an increasing number of initiatives are being organized with a focus on youth inclusion and participation. Governments and NGOs across the MENA region are increasingly moving towards policies and initiatives that are more inclusive of youth by encouraging the expression of youth voice in the process of policy formulations and/or project implementation. Several national initiatives are being launched which reflect the move toward youth-inclusive policies and programs that promote youth led development work in the region.

One such venture would be Peace Camps held in Egypt over the past summer.

The Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement (SMWIPM) launched its pilot “Summer Peace Camps” July 26th to July 31st, 2008. The summer peace camps (SPC) are interactive week long set of programs convened to empower youth in seeing the school as a space for active knowledge seeking and creating participatory learning environments.

Aimed at 13 to 15 year olds, the Summer Peace Camps’ ultimate goal is to empower youth in promoting messages of peace throughout their communities. Members of the Peace Movement’s youth network of young people aged 15 to 28 years of age are also receiving training to become certified trainers for the SPCs.

This pilot project adopts a ‘peer to peer’, youth-led development model for the camps. Peer education is an educational model that relies on different groups of young people teaching and learning from one another. Adopting the peer education model is part of the movement’s efforts to bridge the divide between different sectors of young people and to allow for open platforms of communication. All segments of the program will focus on creating cultures of peace through highlighting the values of tolerance, acceptance, communication and respect. The culture of peace is the main focus of these camps and takes different forms in the program through art, environmental, and sports activities. The program activities are tailored to promote attitudes of responsibility towards one’s community through caring for the environment and understanding the importance of team work and cooperation through sports. The program also concentrates on the internet as a tool of knowledge, maintaining the importance of internet safety. And it focuses on unleashing one’s creativity and imagination through artistic activities.

The camps will be extending beyond the traditional urban centers to include and link different communities from all over Egypt. Ultimately these camps are aimed at providing the youth of Egypt with a forum for critical thinking and creative responsibility, the first step in creating a culture of service and youth-led development amongst their young.


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