"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."-- James Keller
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was one of the final speakers today at the Service Nation Summit. Clinton called America, "The" Service Nation, and said that service has never been more important than it is today. "As the world becomes more complicated and problems more intractable, we are called to serve."
In 1993, President Clinton formalized national service, like Kennedy did with the Peace Corps, and created AmeriCorps. Since its formation, AmeriCorps has served thousands of organizations and nearly 3/4 of AmeriCorps' members continue to serve after they complete their AmeriCorps service, and often go into public service.
Senator Clinton talked about the bipartisan coalition of Senators (Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Sen.Christopher Dodd (D-CT)) that she is a part of who will be pushing the Serve America Act of 2008. "We know a good thing when we see it, and we're ready to put our political capital to work to take service to the next stage."
The Act will create four Corps. The Education Corps will tackle the need for more mentors and leaders in schools, and try to stem the drop out crisis. The Poverty Corps will tackle poverty in the States and work with people who are, "ready, willing and able to help themselves, but don't have the resources to do so by themselves." The Health Corps will help Americans to stay and become healthy. The Clean Energy Service Corps will create new service opportunities to fight global warming, find new sources of clean energy, create energy independence and create green jobs. Clinton said that service is a key to creating the kind of "change" that Americans are yearning for.
Clinton is also working on a proposal with Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) to create a United States Public Service Academy in an effort to promote an ethic of service. She said that we need more young people to consider public service as a career, but because of a history of pubic service failures, and the rising cost of college, young people either don't want to, or can't consider a career in public service. The Academy would be modeled on a military academy. 5,000 students would be federally funded for 4 years of school in exchange for 5 years of public service. She asked for help advocating for it saying that if we don't have a new generation that is trained and aware of opportunities for public service, we will see a continuing deterioration of public service in our country.
You can get involved with Service Nation by signing the Declaration of Service, and participating in the Service Nation's Day of Action on September 27, 2008. Videos and photos from the Summit are available online. You can read my other posts from the Service Nation Summit here.