By Dana Forde
This past year, we engaged millions of Americans in high-impact service, meeting pressing needs in communities across the nation. Working hand in hand with thousands of local partners, our members and volunteers improved lives, expanded economic opportunity, and strengthened communities. As 2013 draws to a close, let’s take a look back at some of our favorite national service moments:
Honoring Dr. King
President Obama launched his second term with a National Day of Service to honor Dr. King. The First Family joined Americans in all 50 states to deliver meals, refurbish schools and community centers, collect food and clothing, promote nonviolence, support veterans and military families, and much more.
A New Kind of Super Bowl Bet
As the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers battled it out in February’s Super Bowl, the mayors of the two cities made a friendly wager. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore and Mayor Edwin M. Lee of San Francisco agreed that the winning mayor would host the mayor from the opposing team for a day of volunteer service with AmeriCorps members.
Providing Help and Hope after Natural Disasters
From Texas to Colorado, New Jersey to Alaska, national service participants were on the frontlines of disaster response in 2013. AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers provided critical services to hundreds of thousands of survivors of floods, fires, hurricanes and other natural and man-made disasters.
Mayors Recognize National Service
On April 9, 2013, the first-ever Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service united bipartisan mayors across the country to highlight the impact of national service and honor those who serve. Altogether, 832 mayors representing nearly 100 million Americans joined in recognizing the work national service does to make cities better and stronger. We expect an even bigger turnout as Mayors Day returns on April 1, 2014.
AmeriCorps Visits the Oval Office
In April, President Obama met with a group of AmeriCorps members to thank them for their service and listen to their stories. AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country.
Making a Difference for Generations
In connection with Older Americans Month in May, CNCS celebrated the extraordinary contributions that Foster Grandparents, RSVP, and Senior Companion volunteers make in their communities during Senior Corps Week. Senior Corps taps the lifetime of skills and experience of more than 360,000 older Americans to meet critical community challenges.
Strengthening Our Support for Veterans and Military Families
A construction project in the shadow of the Washington Monument brought 40 AmeriCorps members – including several veterans – to assemble frames for new Habitat for Humanity homes during the 2013 Veterans Build on the Mall. The build was one example of how CNCS is acting on its commitment to engage and serve more veterans and military families.
A Presidential Task Force
Building on a longstanding tradition of bipartisan Presidential support for national service, President Obama announced an interagency task force that is working to expand national service through partnerships with other federal agencies and the private sector. Inspired by the success of FEMA Corps and School Turnaround AmeriCorps, the Task Force is hard at work developing new partnerships to use national service to address critical challenges facing the nation.
Fostering Social Innovation
The Social Innovation Fund welcomed a dynamic new director Michael Smith and awarded the fourth year of Social Innovation Fund grants, leveraging significant private and non-federal funds to expand the impact of promising nonprofit programs helping low-income communities meet pressing challenges in the areas of economic opportunity, youth development, and health.
Celebrating 20 Years of AmeriCorps
Twenty years after President Clinton signed bipartisan legislation that created AmeriCorps, nearly 1,000 supporters and alumni gathered on September 20th to recognize the transforming impact the national service program has had on communities and the lives of those who have served. Since 1993, more than 820,000 men and women have served in AmeriCorps, providing more than 1 billion hours of service to address critical challenges—from poverty and hunger to disasters and the dropout crisis.