Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy, 1932 - 2009

Innovations in Civic Participation is saddened by the loss of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a longtime leader and supporter of national service. Ted Kennedy died on August 25, 2009 at his home in Hyannis Port, MA. He was 77. Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2008 and survived much longer than his doctors expected. At the time of his death the man dubbed the “Lion of the Senate” was the second most senior member of the Senate. He was considered the patriarch of the Kennedys, a family with a legacy of public service.

Ted Kennedy was a longtime proponent of national youth service. In 2001 he helped increase funding for Boys and Girls Club of America and in 2002 he worked to increase funding for 4-H Program youth development work. In 2003 he cosponsored a resolution creating National Youth Service Day in order to encourage youth service and recognize the contributions young people make to their communities.

Senator Kennedy was a major architect of recent legislation that was the largest expansion of national service programs since the creation of AmeriCorps in 1993. The legislation was named the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in honor of his years of public service and hard work expanding opportunities for young people. The Act reauthorizes and strengthens the programs of the Corporation for National and Community Service and provides funding for new innovative programs. It puts AmeriCorps on the path to grow from its current level of 75,000 to 250,000 members per year. It also creates new service opportunities including the Clean Energy Corps and Summer of Service.

The Kennedy family said in a statement, “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”

Innovations in Civic Participation is grateful for Senator Kennedy’s leadership in the national service movement and honors his lifetime of public service.

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