Thursday, July 9, 2009

Growing Momentum for Civic Energy: ICP at the National Conference on Service and Volunteering

In late June, ICP’s Executive Director Susan Stroud and Program Associates Jean Manney and Colleen Hammelman journeyed to beautiful San Francisco to the annual National Conference on Volunteering hosted by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNS) and the Points of Light Institute.

We kept a busy schedule including hosting sessions on Summer of Service (SOS) and green service; listening to stimulating panels on topics ranging from service as a strategy for economic recovery to service-learning quality standards to social innovation to corporate social responsibility; and meeting and greeting with exciting and knowledgeable practitioners. Throughout all of this, it was electrifyingly evident that the national service movement in the US is bursting at the seams with excitement, momentum and promise for addressing our nation’s most critical needs.

Inspiring a Movement

On the first day of the conference, we listened to star-studded presentations during a Service Nation luncheon and opening ceremony. The luncheon celebrated this year’s successes while focusing on the important tasks ahead to ensure that “one day…a commonly asked question in America will be…’Where do you serve?’”

The opening general session was full of with inspiring speeches and conversations with national service leaders such as CNS Chair Alan Solomont, Founder and CEO of Be the Change, Inc Alan Khazei, CNS Acting CEO Nicola Goren and Points of Lights Institute CEO Michelle Nun, celebrities including Jon Bon Jovi and Matthew McConaughey as well as influential policymakers including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, First Lady of California Maria Shriver, and, of course, First Lady of the US Michelle Obama. It seems a true testament to the momentum for national service that such a tremendous group of personalities would come together in front of over 4,500 people from the national service field to highlight the importance of their work and the promise of service.

Many indicators, including the new US administration’s policy priorities, provide compelling evidence of why the time is right to focus on youth civic engagement. President Obama has made service a cause of his presidency and both he and Mrs. Obama continue to express their commitment to engaging all Americans in service opportunities. It is an important and exciting time for exploring new opportunities for young people to participate in and fully contribute to the development of their communities while also improving their own skills.

Throughout the first day (and conference), we heard many inspiring quotes speaking to the commitment to promoting national service as a habit of citizenship. First Lady Michelle Obama said during the opening session: “We have an Administration that understands that service is key to our nation’s prosperity.” Melody Barnes, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, also addressed the Service Nation Luncheon saying, “This is about changing communities, changing the nation, changing the world.”

ICP’s Contribution

For the next two days, business leaders, service practitioners, policymakers, teachers and others committed to national service in their communities met, discussed and collaborated on wide-ranging panels to help improve their work. ICP hosted two panels focusing on Summer of Service (SOS) and Service as a Strategy for the Green Economy.

ICP Program Associates Jean Manney

and Colleen Hammelman and Executive

Director Susan Stroud attending the Business

Funders Reception.

SOS could become a national ‘rite of passage’ with the potential to reverse negative trends for youth and increase their potential for future success, while also strengthening communities. SOS provides experiential learning opportunities through the common experience of service during the summer months. ICP’s SOS project strives to create strong service programs that engage middle-school aged youth during the summers. ICP's work on this project has included assistance with drafting the legislation, building support among stakeholders and extensive research on existing programs.

During this session, participants heard from Shirley Sagawa, Co-founder, sagawa/jospin consulting; Lisa Bardwell, CEO, Earth Force; Martin Friedman, Executive Director, Education Works; Elson Nash, Acting Director, Learn and Serve America and ICP Program Associate Jean Manney. Through panel presentations and an interactive discussion, participants learned about new developments in federal funding, ICP’s SOS Online Resource Center and the program design and evaluation toolkits we are developing. Panelists and participants discussed the need to engage middle school students in intensive, structured summer service-learning opportunities focused on civic engagement and the importance of connecting summer opportunities to year-round programs.

In addition, ICP Executive Director Susan Stroud moderated the Service as a Strategy for the Green Economy forum addressing how civic innovators are harnessing citizen service as a key strategy for tackling the problems facing our environment. The panel presented strategies from various streams of service and service-learning supporting development of a green economy, contributing to long-term economic growth and positive climate change. Leaders and innovators in the green movement such as Sally Prouty, CEO, The Corps Network; Vivian Chang, Political Director, Green For All; Lisa Bardwell, CEO, Earth Force; and Ray Rivera, Director of External and Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of the Secretary, Department of Interior, participated in an informative discussion.

In particular, the session presented green service, through conservation corps, service-learning in K-12 and higher education, national service and Senior Corps, as a positive strategy for building a green economy, providing training and credentialing in new careers and acting a first rung in pathways out of poverty. In addition, the Department of Interior’s new Office of Youth was discussed as it undertakes efforts, in collaboration with the Corps Network, to engage 100,000 young people in the environment.

1 comment:

Safdar Ali said...

IICIE is a global center of innovations and entrepreneurs offering training, certifications (CBIM) and membership in the fields of Technology, Biotech, Green Energy, Gaming and New Media.


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