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Public Statements

Issue Position: Service

Issue Position

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Issue Position: Service

Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan for Universal Voluntary Public Service

"Your own story and the American story are not separate — they are shared. And they will both be enriched if we stand up together, and answer a new call to service to meet the challenges of our new century … I won't just ask for your vote as a candidate; I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am president of the United States. This will not be a call issued in one speech or program; this will be a cause of my presidency."

— Barack Obama, Speech in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, December 5, 2007

The Problem

Americans Not Asked to Serve After 9/11: President Bush squandered an opportunity to mobilize the American people following 9/11 when he asked Americans only to go shopping.

Insufficient Federal Support for Service: While more than 500,000 people have served in AmeriCorps, the program turns away tens of thousands of applicants a year because of limited funding.

Need for More R&D in Nonprofit Sector: Research and development in the nonprofit sector is limited and there is a disconnect between charitable foundations that can fund innovation and the organizations on the ground that can test new concepts and bring them to scale.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan

Enable All Americans to Serve to Meet the Nation's Challenges

* Expand Corporation for National and Community Service: Obama and Biden will expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots today to 250,000 and they will focus this expansion on addressing the great challenges facing the nation. They will establish a Classroom Corps to help teachers and students, with a priority placed on underserved schools; a Health Corps to improve public health outreach; a Clean Energy Corps to conduct weatherization and renewable energy projects; a Veterans Corps to assist veterans at hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters; and a Homeland Security Corps to help communities plan, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
* Engage Retiring Americans in Service on a Large Scale: Older Americans have a wide range of skills and knowledge to contribute. Obama and Biden will expand and improve programs that connect individuals over the age of 55 to quality volunteer opportunities.
* Expand the Peace Corps: Obama and Biden will double the Peace Corps to 16,000 by 2011. They will work with the leaders of other countries to build an international network of overseas volunteers so that Americans work side-by-side with volunteers from other countries.
* Show the World the Best Face of America: Obama and Biden will set up an America's Voice Initiative to send Americans who are fluent speakers of local languages to expand our public diplomacy. They also will extend opportunities for older individuals such as teachers, engineers, and doctors to serve overseas.

Integrate Service into Learning

* Expand Service-Learning in Our Nation's Schools: Obama and Biden will set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year. They will develop national guidelines for service- learning and will give schools better tools both to develop programs and to document student experience. Green Job Corps: Obama and Biden will create an energy-focused youth jobs program to provide disadvantaged youth with service opportunities weatherizing buildings and getting practical experience in fast-growing career fields.
* Expand YouthBuild Program: Obama and Biden will expand the YouthBuild program, which gives disadvantaged young people the chance to complete their high school education, learn valuable skills and build affordable housing in their communities. They will grow the program so that 50,000 low-income young people a year a chance to learn construction job skills and complete high school.
* Require 100 Hours of Service in College: Obama and Biden will establish a new American Opportunity Tax Credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.
* Promote College Serve-Study: Obama and Biden will ensure that at least 25 percent of College Work-Study funds are used to support public service opportunities instead of jobs in dining halls and libraries.

Invest in the Nonprofit Sector

* Social Investment Fund Network: Obama and Biden will create a Social Investment Fund Network to use federal seed money to leverage private sector funding to improve local innovation, test the impact of new ideas and expand successful programs to scale.
* Social Entrepreneurship Agency for Nonprofits: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will a create an agency within the Corporation for National and Community Service dedicated to building the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector.

Barack Obama's Record

A Lifetime of Service

Obama began his career by moving to the South Side of Chicago to direct the Developing Communities Project. Together with a coalition of ministers, Obama set out to improve living conditions in poor neigh- borhoods plagued by crime and high unemployment. After graduating from law school, Obama passed up lucrative law firm jobs to head Project Vote, which helped register 150,000 new African American voters in Chicago, the highest number ever registered in a single local effort. Michelle Obama was founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago, a leadership development program that identifies and prepares talented young adults for careers serving the public good.


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