Monday, November 24th, 2014

Promises about Public Service on The Obameter

Expand the Senior Corps volunteer program

Expand "the Senior Corps program, which connects individuals over the age of 55 to local volunteer opportunities, and work to provide additional security, including assistance with retirement and family-related costs, to seniors who participate in public service."

Create a Civilian Assistance Corps that would organize private sector professionals to help in times of need

"There is presently no mechanism for civilians with special skill-sets (be they doctors, lawyers, engineers, city planners, agriculture specialists, police, etc.) and a sense of service, to be trained and organized to help their nation when it needs them. The Civilian Assistance Corps (modeled after similar auxiliary groups in Virginia and California) would provide each federal agency a pool of volunteer experts willing to deploy in crises. They would be pre-trained and screened for deployment to supplement departments' expeditionary teams. The creation of such a corps would ensure that true experts carry out tasks such as restoring electricity or creating banking systems, rather than the current practice of expecting already over-burdened soldiers to assume these roles."

Double the Peace Corps

"Barack Obama will double the Peace Corps to 16,000 by its 50th anniversary in 2011 and push Congress to fully fund this expansion, with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean."

Create an artist corps for schools

Will "support the creation of an "Artists Corps" of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and their communities.

Fund a major expansion of AmeriCorps

"Will expand and fund AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots today to 250,000 and they will focus this expansion on addressing the great challenges facing the nation." These additional slots will enable AmeriCorps to establish five new Corps: Classroom Corps to help teachers and students, with a priority placed on high-need and underserved schools; Health Corps to improve public health information and outreach to areas with inadequate health systems such as rural areas and inner cities; Clean Energy Corps to promote energy independence through efforts like weatherization, renewable energy projects and educational outreach; Veterans Corps to help keep America's sacred trust with its veterans; and Homeland Security Corps to help communities plan, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Establish a Global Energy Corps to promote green energy in developing countries

"Will extend opportunities for older individuals such as teachers, engineers, and doctors to serve overseas. This effort will include a Global Energy Corps to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions overseas and promote low-carbon and affordable energy solutions in developing nations. One of this century's great challenges will be promoting the use of green energy in developing countries, which will face exponential increases in energy demand. This Corps will be composed of scientists and engineers who will work with local partners overseas."

Encourage community service through online outreach and social networking

Will build on the foundation of sites like USAFreedomCorps.gov and VolunteerMatch.org and leverage technology to increase awareness of and participation in service opportunities. There will be a comprehensive, easily searchable web presence with information about service opportunities, and a full strategy to ensure that people interested in opportunities can find them. This will essentially be a craigslist for service. Best practices from the private sector will be imported, including user ratings and social network features. Users will be able to rate their volunteer experiences, and those requiring service will be able to specify skill sets and time commitments required. Users will also be able to track their hours of service if they choose and perhaps compete for awards from local chambers of commerce or foundations..Will also use technology to make service opportunities available for people who may prefer to work out of their homes or at unusual hours."

Expand service-learning in schools

Will tie a plan to give schools a substantial infusion of funds to support teachers and principals and improve student learning to the condition that school districts develop programs to engage students in service opportunities. "Obama and Biden believe that middle and high school students should be expected to engage in community service for 50 hours annually during the school year or summer months. They will develop national guidelines for service-learning and community service programs, and will give schools better tools both to develop successful programs and to document the experience of students at all levels. They will encourage programs that engage with community partners to expand opportunities for community service and service-learning opportunities, so that students can apply what they learn in the classroom to authentic situations that help the community. These programs will also involve citizens from the community engaging students in service opportunities through the Classroom Corps."

Expand the YouthBuild program, a youth education and housing program.

"Will work with YouthBuild to grow from 8,000 slots today to 50,000 slots over the next eight years in order to meet the demand from young people and communities for this valuable program." YouthBuild programs allow low-income young people to work toward their GED or high school diploma while they build housing for low-income people.

Encourage more public service by college students

Under the current federal work-study program - which provides nearly $1 billion dollars a year to about 3,400 colleges and universities to subsidize part-time jobs for students - at least 7 percent of that funding is supposed to go to community service jobs like tutoring. Obama believes we need to raise the service threshold to 25 percent "so that more students can afford to engage in public service. This will help more than 200,000 college students a year complete part-time public service while they are in school. Obama ... will work to help colleges and universities reach the goal of 50 percent in serve-study advanced by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and by General Colin Powell as the chair of America's Promise."

Create a Social Investment Fund Network

"Will create a Social Investment Fund Network. This will be a government-supported nonprofit corporation, similar to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, that will 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. The fund will operate through a network of funds that will be rooted in the private sector at the community level, with local decision-making informed by a shared network of best practices. For example, a successful nonprofit organization could apply for funding to study ways to improve or expand the organization to other locations. Or an angel investor could work with the fund to identify high-quality nonprofits that should be expanded to other locations and invest in that expansion. The network of funds would bring experts skilled at analyzing data, picking winners, measuring results, and building capacity to work."

Create an office to help improve nonprofits

"Will a create an agency within the Corporation for National and Community Service dedicated to building the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector. The agency will be charged with: improving coordination of programs that support nonprofits across the federal government; fostering nonprofit accountability; streamlining processes for obtaining federal grants and contracts, and eliminating unnecessary requirements; and removing barriers for smaller nonprofits to participate in government programs. The agency will make grants to build the infrastructure of the nonprofit sector and capacity of nonprofit organizations, including their ability to ensure accountability, manage volunteers, and improve outcomes."

Pay for the national service plan without increasing the deficit

"Will maintain fiscal responsibility and prevent any increase in the deficit by offsetting cuts and revenue sources in other parts of the government (to pay for a national service plan that will cost about $3.5 billion per year when it is fully implemented). This plan will be paid for in part by cancelling tax provisions that would otherwise help multinational corporations pay less in U.S. taxes starting in 2008 by reallocating tax deductions for interest expenses between income earned in the U.S. and income earned abroad. The rest of the plan will be funded using a small portion of the savings associated with ending the war in Iraq."

Create youth service corps

"I am also going to create a 5-E Youth Service Corps. The 'E's' stand for energy efficiency, environmental education and employment. "