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DAY 1, DAY SESSION, 9/02/03
1PM - 4PM
Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to start with a young man, 11-year-old Lavell Counts.
Lavell Counts, Young Hero, City Year:
Good afternoon. I'm Lavell Counts and I am 11 years old and I am a voice for AmeriCorps. I'm honored to welcome you here today and wants to thank you for showing your support for a program that has made a big impact on me. Last year, I, along with 70 other kids my age, participated in a Saturday service program by the coolest group of AmeriCorps members. Through AmeriCorps, I learned that I am a leader and can make a difference. My plants and flowers helped me out at the homeless shelter and making friends with people that are different from me. I learned things I could never learn in school. Ever since I joined AmeriCorps, I look up to the AmeriCorps members and I knew I wanted to be like them and do a year of service hours. When I found out that I may not have the chance to be in AmeriCorps next year, I felt mad. I don't understand why I can't do something positive for my community. Kids like me wants to serve and AmeriCorps gives us that chance. I hope we can save AmeriCorps so I can get that chance. I am Lavell Counts and I am a voice of AmeriCorps. Now can everybody please join me to the Pledge of Allegiance? I pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, individual with liberty and justice for all. Thank you.
I am family.
I am (Inaudible).
I am transformation.
I am compassion.
I am hope.
Ivan Santiago, AmeriCorps Alumni, YouthBuild USA:
I am the voice of AmeriCorps. My name is Ivan Santiago, I'm 21 years old. I'm from Youth Build Boston, sorry. I have helped build affordable housing for low-income families. Through AmeriCorps I've changed my future the year I served to give me the opportunity and the tools for my education and also helped me find what I'm really capable of doing. I have learned that leadership comes in many types of walks through life. With leadership comes great responsibility, a responsibility which I realized I want. Thanks to my education award through AmeriCorps, I have planned to go to college and pursue my degree, so I can help others in the same similar situations as I was. I am a voice for AmeriCorps.
My name is Nkenge Watkins and I am 32 years old. Through Teach For America, I served as a classroom teacher and taught children how to read, write, and think critically. My teaching experience opened my eyes to the many challenges parents face in supporting their children's education. Inspired by the children I taught and their families, I founded a faith-based non-profit organization called City on a Hill family development initiative designed to help empower those children, youth, and adults to utilize their skills and talents to not only adequately provide for and empower themselves but to also serve as agents of change in their own communities. I am a voice for AmeriCorps.
Wayne Lasuen, AmeriCorps Alumni, The Student Conservation Association:
My name is Wayne Lasuen. I'm 23 and I am from Mountain Home, Idaho. I am an alumni from AmeriCorps from the Student Conservation Association. After I graduated high school, they gave me three options. One, join the military, or go to college, or you're stuck and get a job. I chose to serve my country in a different way. I taught to kids the importance of learning about our environment. I opened their minds and increased their knowledge about the importance of the environment not only in the backyard but in our world. By teaching children to respect and value their environment we will lead the future generations in conserving our most precious resources - our public lands. I am a voice for AmeriCorps.
Josh Randle, AmeriCorps Program Director, West Seneca Youth Bureau/AmeriCorps:
My name is Joshua Randle. Age 23 from Buffalo, New York, and a proud AmeriCorps alum. As an AmeriCorps member, I served hundred of people, provided more than 2,700 hours of service to the communities of Buffalo and Western New York. But most importantly, I helped change and shape the lives of our country's most valuable asset, our children. I was a teacher, a mentor, a friend, and a role model, and through my experiences with AmeriCorps, my life will never be the same. I am a strong voice for AmeriCorps.
Kamina Newsome-Young, AmeriCorps Alumni, Public Allies:
Hello everyone. My name is Kamina Newsome. I'm 24 years old and my AmeriCorps experience two years ago, I felt it not only had a positive impact on my community here in Washington D.C. but it also had an impact on the lives of the people that I was fortunate enough to be able to work with. There was Julie, she was from a small Southern town. There was John, he was from Chicago and planned on being a financial planner after he finished AmeriCorps. There was Rashell, she was a mother of four and she was born and raised in Washington D.C. There was Isaac, he was from Cameroon, Africa born and raised and he was in public allies with me. Tim, I can't forget Tim, he was the class clown, had the worst jokes you can imagine, but he added to the experience just as much as anyone else, and through working with all of these people, I realized that community is just another way of describing the myriad of relationships that keep our country moving forward day to day. And community service is really about committing your time and energy to creating these relationships and building them. And I am a voice for AmeriCorps.
We are belief.
We are compassion.
We are the future.
We are the hope.
We are voices for AmeriCorps.
We'd like to welcome you to the first of 100 hours of voices.
Candice Spiller, AmeriCorps Member:
Good afternoon, my name is Candace Spiller. I am 19 years old and I am from Greenville, Mississippi. I was an AmeriCorps member last year and now I am a voice for AmeriCorps. I served in O'Bannon Elementary School. My objective was to tutor ten kids every nine weeks who were below reading level. Now that I can't serve a second year, I won't be able to see a child's happiness or receive a thank you hug when he or she reaches their reading level. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you've helped a child with low confidence in reading. As an AmeriCorps member, it was my duty to encourage help and give back to our community. That is why for the first time in my life, I got on an airplane to be here today. I am a voice for AmeriCorps.
Juan Perez, AmeriCorps Member, Finney County Educational and Service Corps:
My name is Juan Perez. I am 20 years old. I come from Garden City, Kansas. I am a voice for AmeriCorps. Last year, I served with Finny (sp?) County Education Service tutoring at the Buffalo Jones Elementary School. I was a mentor, a friend, but most important an example for the kids. Through our hard work, you can achieve the goals. When I found out that I couldn't serve it made me worry about who will be there for my kids at the Buffalo Jones Elementary, who will Jonathan practice his reading with so that he will catch up with the rest of the class? In order for me to reach my reputation of a leader, I need to go to college. Without a public service award, I wouldn't be able to go. AmeriCorps will allow me to be the first member of my family to go to college. I want to serve. I'm ready to serve and I understand the importance of national service. My name is Juan Perez, yo soy la voce de AmeriCorp).
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome our moderator for today's opening session, Mr. David Gergen.
David Gergen, Editor-at-Large, US News and World Report:
Thank you and good afternoon. Welcome to this extraordinary day, our one of a remarkable and unprecedented outpouring of support for AmeriCorps. Many of you have come from long distances. Candace, on her first airplane ride. And you should know that next year, in her Congressional district, there will be not a single member of AmeriCorps unless people here in Washington, in Congress, and in the White House listen and listen closely to the voices that we will hear over the next 100 hours. If they listen, they cannot help but be moved by these young people who want to serve this country but are now being denied that opportunity, that hope, that dream.
We have three major purposes in coming here over the next 100 hours. The first is the most urgent and that is for this Congress and this White House to get their act together and pass a bill which helps to provide $100 million for AmeriCorps for this current fiscal year. Nothing is more urgent. The second goal is more intermediate in nature, and that is for the Congress and the President to gum together and agree upon a request the President has twice made of the Congress and that is to expand the number of AmeriCorps positions to 75,000 a year and make this a long-term foundation for the young people of this country. The third, and it is no less important, is the long-term objective. And that is what the organizers of this gathering has started to do. To create a movement on behalf of national service. For a long time now, there have been many pioneers in the field represented by the many good organizations that you will hear from over the next 100 hours. There have been many strands but they have rarely been woven together, in fact never were woven firmly together in one strong national movement that makes service a rite of passage for every American. The American young people of today, and I am privileged to have the opportunity to teach in classroom a good deal of my time now. This is a very idealistic generation. These young people want a chance to serve. They are yearning for a way to give back. They would like nothing more than to have, this new generation, this post-9/11 generation, be one that can look back and they can ask each other, what did you do during your year of service to America?
That's the long-term goal of this gathering and that movement has started. It is here in this room with us today. It is taking the life before us. It's the vibrancy of these hearings. It's the voices, 640 voices and counting, who have volunteered to come here and speak up for something people believe in so passionately and has been denied them by the Congress and the White House. This is the time to make voices heard. As you know, in these recently weeks as this controversy has come to a head, no less than 44 governors have signed a petition asking that the $100 million dollars should be provided, among them as you well know, is a certain governor whose name will go unspoken, who happens to govern the state of Florida. In addition, 75 senators have spoken up now on behalf of AmeriCorps, and counting. Again, newspapers, 100 newspapers around the country have now weighed in on this issue of national service. Five have spoken up against AmeriCorps funding. 95 have spoken up enthusiastically for AmeriCorps because these are people out around America who see the results, who are living with the results everyday and they are speaking out from their communities. They are voices that should be counted on this day as well.
Not everyone who wanted to be here can be. I'd like to read the letter of one young man who would like to have been here but cannot be. His name is Nestor Hernandez. He writes, "The first time I heard about AmeriCorps, I told myself this must have been heaven-sent. In the fall of 1996, I decided to move to Buffalo, New York with about $600 to my name. Prior to that, I had spent three years of my life trying to find a way to pay off a college tuition bill making it difficult to continue my education. After working in a plastic production company in Buffalo for two months, a friend of mine told me about a program called AmeriCorps. After he explained the mission statement, benefits, opportunities, well I was hitched. The following day I called and scheduled an appointment.
"My first term of service began in December 1996 as a member of the Service Action Corps. After successful completing my first term of service, I decide the (Inaudible) in the fall of '97 as a tutor at the Herma Bedeo Bilingual Academy. Following my second term of service, my Executive Director offered me a job as Program Director of the Literacy Program. In August '99 I enlisted in the United States Army Reserves as a Civil Affairs Specialist. After completing basic in AIT at Fort Benny and Fort Briack, respectfully, I returned to the Youth Bureau and continued my role as Program Director."
He went back after his training, went back into the civil side. "On November 30, 2002, I was on my way home from Rochester after visiting my mother when my cell-phone rang. As I answered the phone, the voice asked to speak to Nestor Hernandez. Speaking, I replied. Mr. Hernandez, this is your army unit and you have been mobilized to serve as part of Operation and during Freedom. On December 13, 2002, I deployed with my unit. As this letter is being read, I am currently serving as a sergeant for the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion Direct Support Team in Iraq. Playing the role of citizen soldier, as some may call it, is not an easy task. One day I'm sitting at my desk coordinating after-school community partnerships to place AmeriCorps tutors. The following day, I find myself aboard a C-130 dressed in army greens getting ready to deploy to Iraq.
"Having spent the past seven years as part of the AmeriCorps family, I was taken aback to hear that this program may not exists upon my return home. This program may not exist upon my return home. I've had so many people come up to me and ask what I do as a civilian. Once I explained to them the AmeriCorps mission, they always seem to know someone who may benefit from the program. Not only does this program help improve the lives of others, but I've heard numerous testimonials from various corps members and the personal impact this program has made in their lives.
"As I continue my mission here in Iraq, it is difficult stepping out day by day not knowing what to expect. Whatever the sacrifice may be in life at one point or another, each of us is called upon to provide a service in some capacity. No matter what type of service you are providing, everyone one of us has the power to promote positive change and make a difference in this world. Just ask yourself this question before you fall asleep tonight. What effort did I make to improve my or the lives of others today? God bless. Sergeant Nestor Hernandez, U.S. Army Civil Affairs."
Another voice, 641 and counting. So, in the hours ahead, we will hear many, many voices and we're going to start with some champions of AmeriCorps to give us all - we heard the young people already - now we're going to have some others who have been engaged in this program in one fashion or another and who are strong believers in national service. We'll start with Bob Corrigan. What I'm going to do is to ask each of these individuals to come up and speak to us. We'll go through this group, there are about ten. After that, I'll make some closing remarks, and then we will have some other voices and we'll move onto the panel. We're going to rev up now for the next 100 hours. I can't believe how many of you brought your sleeping bags and you're ready to go. You're going to be parked all around Capitol Hill. And I want to say on your behalf how appreciative we are of people from the press who have come here because to amplify the voices of the people who come all around this country is something that is a major contribution to our civic life. So we thank those of you who are here from the press for paying attention. And I hope you can hear these voices, amplify these voices, and raise a little hell. OK, first up, Bob Corrigan who is President of San Francisco State University.
Robert Corrigan, President, San Francisco State University:
Thank you and good - oops - good afternoon. I'm Robert Corrigan, I'm President of San Francisco State, and I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but old enough to remark about what the extraordinary change that Mr. Gergen has pointed to in terms of a young population that is deeply committed to service and to this community. I am here however to talk about a remarkably important ally that we have had in bringing the value of service to community to life and that is AmeriCorps.
I don't think that here in this room that I need to argue in favor of national service, in Congress even, partisan party differences have dropped away as legislators have declared their support for this national effort to support service. I do, however, want to make clear why I, and many others, believe that fostering national service is absolutely vital to our national well-being. In more than four decades in higher education, almost 26 of them heading up urban institution, large urban institution, I have come to recognize that a central part of our educational mission is educating students for active citizenship for positive participation in a shared democracy. We in higher education believe strongly that our students need a sense of community and social values and that our democracy depends on the readiness of each new generation to take personal responsibility for the governance of our society. As educators, we have accepted our obligations to demonstrate that there are life enriching alternatives to cynicism, to indifference, or a sense of civic powerlessness.
Community service, community engagement has proved to be the most effective and indeed, lasting way to inculcate the values and to build the skills that will make our students active citizens. Building on student's idealism, we work hard to graduate men and women who are eager to make ours a better and a more just society, who believe in something, will act on those beliefs, will volunteer, vote, and help to address community problems. And now as our nation faces unprecedented challenges from within and well beyond its borders, the development of an active, engaged citizenry is critical. It is utterly critical and necessary. AmeriCorps, as you have heard, has helped tens of thousands of Americans, many of them young people in their college years, to experience what it means to take an active role in efforts to address key social issues.
President Bush itself, as Mr. Gergen pointed out, has recognized the power of this program. It is called for a major expansion of its reach, set in a goal of 75,000 volunteers, a 50% increase over last year's figures. But instead, AmeriCorps has been reduced to 30,000. The reason, not lack of heart or lack of willingness on the part of volunteers. The lack of funds! Across the country, excellent programs, proven programs, programs that have made a profound difference for hundreds of thousands of Americans young and old, are being forced to closed. This is a terrible social policy. A false economy as well. When Congress created AmeriCorps, it required that private money be used to match federal funds. The private sector has more than delivered its side of the bargain, but its support is at risk if the amount of public funding is reduced dramatically. I want to emphasize that AmeriCorps is much more than a vehicle for handing out funds to worthy local programs. It provides a kind of support that enables good programs to succeed over the long haul. Management assistants, training for both volunteers and program heads, is a vehicle for a sharing of ideas, building them networks of service, and replication of successful ideas.
What would it take to restore AmeriCorps to reasonable size? A sum that, in the context of the national budget, does seem modest indeed. $100 million will make the difference. And that difference will be tremendous to lives and communities across the nation. To illustrate the need to keep AmeriCorps strong, I want to personalize it for you by describing a program that epitomizes AmeriCorps' social value and economic efficiency. The program that I know well is Jumpstart, this exceptionally affective early childhood literacy program works towards the day that every child in America enter school prepared to succeed. Jumpstart corps members work one-to-one with children from low-income families in need of language, literacy, and social skills. Engaged college students working one-on-one with three to five year olds for the great benefit of both the child and the college student. My institution has participated for a number of years in the program and I can tell you that it works. It is sending more youngsters into kindergarten and first grade who are ready and able to learn. So far this program Jumpstart, nationally, has prepared 10,000 pre-schoolers from low-income families to be ready to read when they start school. The corps members who work with these children are offering hope during a particularly trying time in this current economic crisis.
I might note that one of Jumpstart's most important strengths is its replicability. The program has developed a clear, effective model that has worked over and over in communities across the nation. Jumpstart is also an exceptionally good value for all of us who are concerned about how effectively our public moneys are spent. In Jumpstart's case, for every dollar granted by AmeriCorps, Jumpstart raises four dollars from other sources, among them major corporation sponsors such as Starbucks, American Eagle Outfitters, and Bank One. Restoring funds to AmeriCorps will also ensure that private-sector funding continues to flow to communities in need.
In the 21st century, national service should be part of what it means to be an American citizen. Our President has called on all Americans to be citizens, not spectators, and to build on their kindness and compassion to help build a culture of responsibility. AmeriCorps is an established and effective being supporting and encouraging those who want to serve, who want to make a positive demonstrable difference in the lives of others. So I join with over 600 of my friends and colleagues to call on the members of Congress to do what I believe they recognize to be just and the morally right thing for our society. $100 million in funding will allow AmeriCorps and Jumpstart and the other programs to maintain what they do, in problems avoided and lives made better, the funds will be returned to our nation many times over. Thank you.
David Gergen, Moderator:
Thank you, Bob Corrigan. And we thank you for what you're doing in San Francisco. My daughter actually was in AmeriCorps in San Francisco and one of the things that made me a convert because I saw what a difference it made in her life living there in San Francisco. You raised the question of $100 million, just how much is that? $100 million to keep the kids of this generation on the streets building communities all over America. We spend ten times that much every week keeping young people, our young people, on the streets in Baghdad, elsewhere in Iraq. Ten times that much every week. What we're asking to do is to put young people on the streets here in America for a year to help make this work. Next, we're going to turn to Bill Barke. We thank him for coming. He's the chairman and the CEO of Edison Wesley Publishing.
Bill Burke, CEO, Addison Wesley Publishing:
Thank you David, and thank you Bob. I'm here from the private sector. I actually work for a company called Pearson which is headquartered in London. You may not know them, but you probably know the primary American brands that we represent of Scott Foresman and Prentice Hall and Longman and Addison-Wesley. I'm responsible for managing four college textbook publishers, Addison-Wesley, Longman, Benjamin Cummings, and Allyn & Bacon. About three years ago, our CEO Marjorie Scardino decided that she wanted to focus and to narrow our charitable and philanthropic giving and we began a search for a partner in that effort that would reflect our mission and reflect our values and that search yielded us Jumpstart, which has just been so eloquently described by my friend Bob Corrigan, and basically we began that partnership and couldn't be more delighted.
Jumpstart is a wonderful organization full of ideals with a focus on the children and making a difference in disadvantaged pre-schoolers' lives. The focus of our relationship is several but the real cornerstone of the Pearson Jumpstart relationship is something we call the Pearson Teacher Fellows Program. We actually, at Pearson, offer financial incentives of up to $3 million for the next three years to college graduates who are Jumpstart corps members who make a commitment to each for two years in pre-schools across the country and then we train them in concert with Tufts University in Boston to provide that training. The program is only two years old, but there's some self-serving reasons for us. Pearson, actually, has two of the primary teacher training providers in the industry in Allyn & Bacon and Charles Merrill, and we really believe and we hope that after these two years that these Jumpstart corps members who didn't train to be teachers, in college will choose teaching as a profession, as we're interested in the continuing professional development of teachers.
So that's pretty much the kernel of the program, but along the way, a couple of beautiful things have happened that we didn't anticipate. One is, service is viral. Service is infectious, so that everybody at Pearson that touched these Pearson Teacher Fellows and Jumpstart corps members and the children that they touched, became interested in service and volunteering so we have 75 Pearson Teacher Fellows and there's a concomitance 75 mentors drawn from our companies who have volunteered to advise and to befriend them and to coach them for their two years of service. Our partnerships with the universities have been strengthened. I had known universities that are customers. They provide our authors, and they provide the professors who use our text, we've known them as teaching institutions and research institutions. But all of a sudden, I now know certain universities to be dedicated to service, and San Francisco State University and Tufts are two of them. The commitment that they make to service at all levels is exemplary and we're glad to have them as fellow partners.
But the reason I'm here today is to strengthen the business, the private sector with the public sector, President Bush has challenged us to step up to the plate and to do our part, and we're doing it. And I would like to challenge him and Congress in return to do the same thing to give it back, so the business-serving America goals we're only too glad to serve, but for all of these programs to work, AmeriCorps needs to be funded. Jumpstart doesn't exist without it, the Pearson Teacher Fellowship doesn't exist without it, but it's a four-pronged partnership. Jumpstart is a partner. The university community is a partner, Pearson is a partner, but as David said, Congress and the White House is the missing partner and we want them to step up right now.
David Gergen, Moderator:
The beat goes on. Jean Case, who is the CEO of the Case Foundation has been remarkably supportive of more than one AmeriCorps program. They've supported City Year, they've supported Habitat for Humanity. They supported America's Promise, an organization that Colin Powell, of course, was instrumental in helping to found. We're delighted that you're here, Jean. We know how much this has meant to you. I had the opportunity to be on an airplane ride with her back from Boston with Kathy Bushkin who is here as head of the AOL Foundation, and I learned that just how passionate she is about this effort. So thank you for coming and thank you for your support.
Jean Case, Case Foundation:
It's really truly my pleasure to be here today, to be a voice for AmeriCorps. In our family foundation, the Case Foundation, we have looked for programs that leveraged community resources, human capital, bring people working together, linking arms to look at social issues and address them in communities. I thought I might be helpful to give you a little bit of background and share with you some of the partners that we've had the opportunity of working with through the Case Foundation and to demonstrate just how important AmeriCorps is and the work that we are trying to do together with our partners.
When we first began the foundation and we tried to do our homework, we looked around at communities across the nation to see who is having an impact and why. And as we peeled back the onion, we peel back layers, we saw that time and time again, there was volunteerism and there was public, private partnership, people coming together to solve their community problems and to address opportunities. We started working with America's Promise on an national initiative some time ago. Through this initiative, we brought together a number of public and private sector partners and we created 1,000 after-school technology centers across the nation. This program utilized and leveraged tens of millions of dollars in philanthropic support. But more importantly, the program simply couldn't have existed without the strong commitment of AmeriCorps workers who were on the front lines every single day working with the kids, working in the centers, and making a difference in their lives.
And this is really only one example of some of the terrific opportunities that we saw as we looked across the nation and said, where are people making a difference. In Washington D.C. we created a relationship with City Year. City Year came to D.C. two years ago, and before that time, had not been present in these neighborhoods in this community. We set out to try and find local support, partnership opportunities, and it was a hard job, and as I stand here today, City Year is well supported. We have a team of AmeriCorps workers out there making a difference.
But because of the pending cuts facing the AmeriCorps program, City Year's program is significantly at risk. City Year AmeriCorps workers are making a difference in our schools. Last year, they worked with over 950 D.C. school students raising their math and science scores and their academic achievement levels. They mentored and tutored over 5,000 in the dangers of alcohol, drug abuse, and HIV. They've sponsored a program called Young Heroes, and we heard Lavell speak earlier, one of those young people from the program called Young Heroes. The idea of Young Heroes is really to provide tomorrow's leadership in service in this particular community, and it's been remarkably successful. But these programs are at risk if AmeriCorps gets cut and not only are these programs at risk, but to all of our partners that we went to and asked to support this important work in Washington D.C. We have to go back to them and say, the government is stepping away but will you stay with us.
And it's particularly this aspect of giving and you've heard it in the earlier speakers, they were most concerned about. Often, when we look at investments in AmeriCorps, we think about the government's investment, but in fact there are organizations like the Case Foundation, like the others you've heard speak today who are at the table because they recognize the leverage opportunity that AmeriCorps represents. We often worry that when you take a look at the kind of giving and the kind of needs out in the communities, it's simple not recognized that people are at the table because of the important work of AmeriCorps workers. For many of us, we think what's most troubling about these pending cuts is that they come at this time. Following September 11, we saw a very rare window of opportunity and a window of optimism. We literally saw Americans standing in line to help their neighbors. We saw the President of the United States include in his State of the Union Address a call to service and ask every American to be a part of that.
Through businesses serving America since January, since that State of the Union Address, over 500 corporations in American have come forward and they've said, we'll support volunteers in the United States, and so it's odd that at this point in time we'd give any consideration to a cutback when there's truly a rare opportunity to move forward. We'd like to ask members of Congress, we'd like to ask corporations, private institutions and foundations like ourselves to stay behind AmeriCorps, to be a strong voice for AmeriCorps and to increase funding. Thank you very much.
David Gergen, Moderator:
Thank you Jean. As your testimony, if I may call it that, I think helps to - thank you - are you with AmeriCorps? Aha! They know how to fix things, you see? Point proven! But Jean's statement really helps us to understand there are many good foundations, and good-hearted organizations and corporations that do support this, but they have done that with the understanding that the government would be at the table and they will be joining a common cause. And now to ask these organizations which have been out recruiting for this year and for next year to pull the plug on their spending and say, why don't you just go out and raise another $100 million dollars and do it on a dime and do it in the next two weeks so you can keep your program afloat, it just isn't possible, it's not realistic to expect that you can make up, in just a twinkle of an eye, $100 million gap, and that's why so many of these programs are on the edge and they're starting to cancel out and they're starting to zero out places like Candace's Mississippi Congressional District, and have taken such large swats out of so many programs. We thank you for coming Jean.
A long time supporter of AmeriCorps, especially of City Year, has been Mark Fuller. He has been not only a pioneer in this area but he's been a close advisor to Alan Casey and Michael Brown as they have built City Year. He has - his organization has helped to support them. He's been there every step of the way for them in recent years and he's here again to lend his voice. Mark is the chairman of the Monitor Company. Thank you for coming Mark.
Mark Fuller, Chairman, Monitor Group:
Thank you, I was quite intimidated by inheriting this from David. I wish I had gotten it from Jean the level of this microphone is what referring to. Well, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
It is actually, a pleasure to stand up here today and have the opportunity to speak on behalf of AmeriCorps. Like Bill, I'm here as a representative of the private sector. For those of you who don't know, Monitor Group, the company of which I'm Chief Executive, has become one of the world's premiere general management consultancies over the past 20 years with 1,500 professional more or less in 26 offices, and we've also entered the world of private equity, investing in scores of middle-sized companies and also in venture capital. And all of those businesses have given us the chance to work with organizations of many different kinds. We've worked with traditional big companies, rapid growth small companies, we've worked with governments and multilaterals when they've faced very complex situations as with transitions to ANC rule in South Africa or currently in the effort to stimulate economic development in post-genocide Rwanda. And with any of these organizations, we like to work on things that matter to help those things work better.
As an organization, we've had the privilege of assisting five AmeriCorps organizations, City Year, which David mentioned, but also Citizen Schools, College Summit, Jumpstart, and Teach for America. And we've put literally hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours into these organizations, and we've done that enthusiastically, and we've done it enthusiastically because AmeriCorps fits our involvement criteria to a T. It's a program that matters, and it's a program that works. It works for the individuals who participate in it, it works for the communities they serve, and it works for our nation as a whole. Now I've seen individuals who've been transformed by AmeriCorps. I've seen individuals who've had their skills enhanced, who've had their confidence bolstered and perhaps most importantly it changes their perspective. AmeriCorps dissolves prejudice. AmeriCorps builds connections some of the most sharply demarcated boundaries in our society, and for me most importantly, it calls for and cultivates those soft capabilities that are so essential to the functioning of any relationship, or any organization, or any community. And I'm speaking about things like empathy, trust, and leadership.
Now I've read a lot of books about leadership and from time to time I've even tried to practice it, and every book I've ever read and every experience I've ever had teaches the same stark lesson. It's all about the people, stupid. And the fact of the matter is, in my experience, AmeriCorps is a veritable breeder reactor for teaching, understanding people, and leading people. And this profound education is utterly two-way. It's not just the corps members who learn and grow. It's the parents, it's the sponsors, it's all of the participants. At Monitor, we employ a lot of people at the high end of the economic food chain. PhDs, lawyers, MBAs. These are very bright people. Very hardworking. But also often very brittle.
I remember a particular situation in which we were assisting an inner-city school. Our people worked with the principal on curriculum development, our people acted as mentors, our technical wizards wired the classrooms, and those less technically inclined, myself among them, did some construction work and cleaning up. Now I know people in that cross-section of Monitor who worked at that inner city school who had never voted, or who had stopped voting, and began voting. I know people in that cross-section of Monitor who are first-generation immigrants from India, from Bulgaria, from Vietnam, who said after the experience, this is what I dreamed America was all about. They got as much as they gave. AmeriCorps transformed them. And AmeriCorps is also, as you know better than I, great for the communities in which it serves. It provides real, measurable, services to these communities. It does things from education, to youth crime, to elderly care.
I've participated in a lot of regional economic development studies in my life, from the Research Triangle in North Carolina to rural Texas, and I can tell you what the first recommendation in every one of those studies is going to be before the study is done - improve K through 12 education. And as teachers and teachers aides and coaches and mentors and tutors, that's exactly what AmeriCorps has done. Robert Putnam, one of the leading scholars of social capital, has warned us that as a nation, we face the prospect of bowling alone. Now, bowling alone isn't hard, it just may be less fun. Learning alone is hard. Building alone is hard. Recovering alone is hard. Dying alone is hard. In this, and so many other ways, AmeriCorps has made a difference. It's made a difference by providing real, high-leverage, high-gain services and those communities will suffer if those services disappear. And just as those communities have benefited, our nation has benefited.
Another thing that Monitor does is it creates scenarios of the future. It does it for big companies, it does it for movie studios, it does it for the Department of Defense, it does it for the national intelligence community. And I think most of the global scenarios that come out nowadays acknowledge America's predominant position in the world and suggests that that prominent position may last for a good long time. These scenarios also suggest two threats to American predominance. The first threat is that our differentiated human assets deteriorate, and the second threat is that our diverse society disintegrates. AmeriCorps deals directly and speaks directly to these two overarching challenges. As to the first, I can tell you, in the 21st Century, there are going to be very few sustainable sources of competitive advantage other than a high quality human asset base. And AmeriCorps develops distinctive, well-rounded people. It enhances their skills but it goes beyond skills to spirit. It enables the gaining of credentials but however valuable those credentials without commitment, they are not worth that much.
There are no great institution, whether superlative school or competitive company or effective military unit that has been founded solely on the basis of skilled people. Those kinds of organizations require people who have the capability of generating and sustaining a sense of moral purpose. And that is exactly what AmeriCorps does best. And the other threat that America faces is one of fragmentation. Economic fragmentation, the threat of two nations. Social and ethnic fragmentation, the threat of too many nations. But for me the most serious, fragmentation from alienation and apathy, the threat of no nation. And in response to these things, AmeriCorps brings together, it assembles, a truly diverse coalition of people across the lines of race and gender and age and social and economic status. It enlists former gang bangers and former investment bankers. And I got to tell you, you got to love a program that attempts to reform investment bankers. It knits together the fabric of our nation and it makes it stronger. Member by member, and community by community, and that fabric will be tested increasingly in the future, not just by the 9-11s but by all the wonderful and good changes that our dynamic society will present.
Now in my capacity as a venture capitalist, I'm asked every week to invest in the future of companies. Members of Congress and the Executive Branch are asked every day to invest in the future of America. We're all aware that there are myriad claims on that investment. But in an era when the efficacy of government is frequently questioned, AmeriCorps presents a unique and innovative public-private partnership that delivers. As has been said several times here today, the private sector has stepped up. More than a billion dollars has gone from the private sector into AmeriCorps organizations. I respectfully urge Congress and the Executive to step up. That they step up for the $100 million in urgently needed emergency funding for the current fiscal year and that they stand behind the President's request to increase the ranks of AmeriCorps members to 75,000. Government's done a great deal already to assist AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps' talented social entrepreneurs will go from success to success with a bit more support, but sudden and dramatic cuts will gut their ability to do that. Many will not survive, let alone flourish. I'm sure there are many people in this room who know as I do, that AmeriCorps is not a perfect program. But cutting it now will not make it more perfect.
To conclude, there are only a handful of countries in the world where measured levels of patriotism and idealism have not substantially declined since World War II. United States is one of those countries. I see the investment that is on the table today as nothing less than a down payment on the idealism and patriotism of this country going into the 21st century. It's an investment we will need and it's an investment Congress should support. Thank you.
David Gergen, Moderator:
Stand back. Thank you Mark Fuller for that, very hardheaded provocative statement. You said the private sector has invested a billion dollars in AmeriCorps and has stepped up and now it's time for the government to step up. I don't think many of us knew that. That was very helpful insight into what has already occurred. And you spoke eloquently about the need - the challenges that we face as a people not to let our human base deteriorate to let our society disintegrate. I think you helped to place in context what this is all about in a very helpful way. I might add that Peter Drucker better watch out, look over your shoulder. And you've also brought us roaring into our number two of -
I am reminded as we gather here in the Dirksen Building, Senator Dirksen used to say that, a million here a million there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money.
Now we're here, now we're there, a voice here, a voice there, and pretty soon it adds up to a very compelling case for AmeriCorps. This past June, some of us gathered at the National Press Club for another session, much shorter than this, I might say, but there was a woman there who electrified everyone and moved us all. Sister Mary Johnice who comes here from Buffalo. And she is the Director of the Response to Love Center in Buffalo. She told us a story then, as I recall, about snows of Buffalo and how AmeriCorps workers, when nobody out on the streets, they were out in the snow carrying food to others and how much that has meant to her. Sister Mary Johnice, we welcome you back.
Sister Mary Johnice Rzadkiewicz, Response to Love Center:
America, our nation, our country, our gift. Americans, known to the whole wide world as people, led by great minds, and their leadership not in power, in dollars. Our President, our cabinet, our Congressmen, Senators, they're with us, companions on our journey, responding to the invitation to be and become our brothers' and sisters' keeper. America. America, AmeriCorps is about America. And America is about AmeriCorps. The AmeriCorps is part of our lives at Response to Love Center. We form a team of support for those in the poorest area of Buffalo New York on the East Side. Poverty all around, drug addiction, a high rate of crime, low income families, abused children, domestic violence and prostitution. It's in places like this that you find AmeriCorps, selfless, outstanding, and sacrificial workers, never counting the cost for who they serve or what they do. AmeriCorps' jobs are many and all you have to do is visit our site. One visit tells the story in a small child's face who's tutored and who learns to read for the first time, all because moments shared together. An elderly lady, released as a prisoner from her own home, now enjoys life again. She can attend a social function in the parish hall, participate at a church service and make a bank deposit safely all because of their care and concern. That's the AmeriCorps worker. The AmeriCorps worker puts a face on a homeless man who lives on the street and is met with a warm welcome. That man is brought to our Center to receive a hot meal and clean clothing. His name is learned, and he's treated with dignity. No longer is he fearful because he has a friend and a new door to life has opened for him.
A few years ago, 30,000, 40,000, and this year 47,000 individuals were served in our site. Food was delivered in AmeriCorps trucks, providing us with workers who not only unloaded thousands of pounds of food but actually met the people in our dining room. And I ask now, who will suffer as we face drastic cutbacks for the AmeriCorps people? I know well. The elderly, the homebound, the children, and the poor. We can't allow this to happen.
I close now with a true hands-on story about my experience with the team of AmeriCorps. Everyone knows well when snow hits Buffalo, New York. Although a beautiful sight, the city paralyzes. I saw AmeriCorps respond immediately. We worked with each other packing emergency food bags, thousands of bags, and delivering them especially to the homebound. I saw the AmeriCorps worker walk for mile for a prescription for a new mother who just had a baby. I watched them shovel snow for hours at a time, long hours for days, just so emergency vehicles could get through. And above all, I witnessed strong faith and a genuine love in action. Lives touching lives. Isn't that what we're all about? Isn't this our American spirit? Being our brother and sister's keeper? Yes. Saint Adalbert Response to Love Center is only one site of thousands that benefits from AmeriCorps' service and we count on them in the coming days. Someone asked me what I hope for during the Voices of America experience, and my reply? To stand humbly beside President Bush as he affirms and supports AmeriCorps, responding positively with appropriation of funding and to smile sincerely and express our heartfelt gratitude to say, Mr. President, you are our hero. You're our hero for AmeriCorps, and AmeriCorps is proud of you. America, let's save AmeriCorps. God bless you.
David Gergen, Moderator:
That's good. Thank you Sister Mary Johnice. You always call us back to ourselves and we thank you for that, and we promise, when the day comes, and if President Bush is there to sign the bill, and if he shows up, there will be a spot for you next to him. We promise you that.
We have a surprise guest coming in a few moments, but we'll wait on that because we also have a delight coming up just ahead in our next speaker. He is - Alan, is my signal to go forward or to go back? OK - we think. Ladies and gentlemen, one of the greatest supporter of this program for years, a champion on the floor of the United States Senate, a champion in her state, her home state of California, someone who wants to raise her voice here today and has just joined us, Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Government:
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, what a good idea. I just wanted to say thank you for doing this. You know it is possible to move the stone, the stone being the House of Representatives, and AmeriCorps, I think, is one of the great American programs. I've just been talking with Dr. Corrigan from San Francisco State and a group from Jumpstart and listening to what college students have been able to do by mentoring a four-year-old in a Head Start program, teaching that four-year-old the basics of learning, enabling them to become comfortable with a book, being able to see that they can then go onto kindergarten and the first grade with some of the skills that others have as well. So I am a big supporter and House of Representatives, do your work. 100 million more. It's going to make a huge difference. Of those college students that became these Head Start mentor teachers, I am told that over a third of them then wanted to teach a Head Start on a permanent basis when they finish college. What a wonderful way to truly make a difference. So I'd just like to add my voice, I have already voted and around here the vote is what you have to give. And now what we need, is for the House of Representatives to listen, to do the right thing, to fund AmeriCorps. Thank you all very, very much. Thank you.
David Gergen, Moderator:
Thank you again Senator Feinstein, we're deeply under your debt for coming here and for all that you've done for this program. You've been terrific. She said, just as she was leaving, I need to shake Walter's hand, and well, she might because our next speaker, many of you know or have learned about, perhaps more recently, he's been a quiet but extraordinary influential voice to American journalism for a very long time. I can't think of a magazine in America which didn't say to itself at one time or another, if we could just get Walter Isaacson to come in here and be the editor, we could turn this place around. As he did at Time Magazine. He was - the rest of us who were looking from afar from rival perches looked at him and said, oh my god, he's really good. He's remarkable good there at Time Magazine. He went on to CNN and was in television for a while and now he's gone on to the Aspen Institute which he just took over this summer, had a great summer there, and was a warm welcoming spirit in Aspen. But many of you may know him also through his books. They go back to the Weissman (?) but his most recently book on Benjamin Franklin. Walter Isaacson is doing for Benjamin Franklin what David McCullough did for John Adams. Bringing one of our founders back to life and bringing someone we need to understand back to our myths, and I commend that book to you, you will find it - out there it's head on head against Hilary Clinton on the bestsellers list. But there's a chapter in there, Walter, that I thought was so pertinent for this, and it's about Franklin, as a young man, who was forming associations in Philadelphia and how he formed the library association, the Lending Library, and how he formed a fire association, and that spirit of giving life to - what this is all about it, it seems. So it's really a coming together for you to be here, and we thank you. Walter Isaacson.
Walter Isaacson, President, CEO, Aspen Institute:
You're wondering why both David and Senator Feinstein were being so nice, it's because they both hang out in Aspen and they just like to have a place to go and (Inaudible). When I didn't run the Aspen, neither of them were that nice to me, especially when you were running US News, you used to scoop me all the time. But I did want to do, as David mentioned, talk a little bit, as we kick off this week at the testimony about national service about how central it's been to our nation's history and our identity, and as David said, as a hobbyist historian in the biography of Ben Franklin, I thought I'd just spend a moment or two, explaining why the founders and Franklin in particular, helped to instill civic service, community service, and national service, as part of the American character.
The roots of that trend go back to Cotton Mather, an early Puritan preacher. Now Cotton Mather had been - and his family had been involved in the Salem witch trials - so he's not exactly one of the most beneficial people in our history, but he made up for it a tiny bit by writing a wonderful series of essays called "Essays to Do Good" which helped instill the idea of neighborhood, community, and civic service into our lives. He called on citizens from Boston and up and down the colonies to form voluntary associations to help their neighborhoods. And one of them, called Associated Families, Ben Franklin's father joined, and then in order to get young people involved in nation service, he created something called the Young Men Associated Club, and Franklin joined that. Now Ben Franklin kind of famously didn't love Puritan Boston and the theocracy that Cotton Mather represented so he runs away from it and goes off to Philadelphia but he doesn't run away from this notion of national service and civic service and as a young tradesman, as David says, he forms his club called the Junto, and what they do at the Junto is they meet every Friday and discuss ways they can improve their community, ways they can get more involved, and they want to do it with an air of humility, they want to do it with an air of partnership so in discussing how you improve your community, what they did was they said, you were not allowed to directly contradict or to sharply dispute with any other member of the club. You should just ask questions and try to build upon the suggestions there. In fact, if you sharply disputed or contradicted any member of the club, you got fined a certain amount, and that's how they raised their money and I figure in these halls here, you could probably save AmeriCorps just by having that rule with some of these people in Congress today.
But he used his friends in the Junto to launch a variety of civic project. The first Nightwatchman Corp, the first Fire Brigade, later a hospital, the academy that became the University of Pennsylvania, and what he said so wonderfully is that the good that people may do separately is small to the good that they may do collectively. The French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville, famously marveled a little bit later that Americans of all ages are always forming associations, hospitals, prisons, schools, all take shape this way. Being a Frenchman, he didn't quite understand the tradition of America's virtues, I don't think, because he declared that there was an inherent conflict in the American character between these two conflicting strands - the rugged individualism and then the need to have a spirit of community and government help with that rugged individualism.
I think Franklin would have disagreed. A fundamental aspect of Franklin's life and the American character that he helped to create was that individualism and civic involvement and government involvement was all so seemingly contradictory at least to Tocqueville, were in fact interwoven, that the frontier in America attracted ruggedly individualistic pioneers who also liked to create a common ground for them stand upon, to raise barns with each other, and to work together on community projects or volunteer fire corps or whatever it may be. Franklin, in doing that, had his list of virtues, which he wanted everybody to be involved - the people in his Junto, he felt each one should have these virtues. And he put his on a slate and marked off how well he did - frugality, industry, honesty, and each week he'd check it off, and finally he had a nice clean slate - which is by the way where that cliché comes from - and he showed it around to all of his friends in the Junto and one of them kindly informed him that he had left off a virtue that perhaps he ought to practice, and Franklin said what's that? And the friend said, humility. You can try that one a little bit and use it more. And so he understood, he said I could never quite master that virtue of humility, but I could always give the appearance of it which was very important in forming community associations, and so at age 42, in order to throw himself into that work, halfway through his life, in order to throw himself into the civic enterprises and that spirit of humility that he thought would be good for his way of helping his society, he quit his print shop and became full-time worker in the civic endeavors of Philadelphia. His mother was, of course, rather baffled by this, but as he explained to her in a wonderful line, he said I would rather have it said of me that he lived usefully than that he died rich. Franklin's endeavors tended to be voluntary. His goal was to get people, especially young people engaged in helping others, doing good for their neighbors, and being part of civic life, but he knew that this could not be done and should not be done in isolation from government and from the common wheel. It was a partnership, he felt. People should and would get involved but they needed the support, the structure, and the resources that came from doing so in conjunction with the civil authorities, the government, and the public will.
When he organized the street cleaning of the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, he felt that the local assessment on business should be part of the plan and like AmeriCorps and Teach for America, which I've worked with, he proved that it worked, he showed how good it would be, and then was able to raise the money because of it. Likewise, when he organized a voluntary constabulatory patrol and later a safety militia, he knew that it made sense to have government officials set the framework and provide some of the resources and when he decided to get a group together to raise a hospital, the first hospital in Philadelphia, he concocted what became a time-honored scheme for private-public partnerships, the matching grant fundraiser. He got the Pennsylvania Assembly to agree to put 2,000 pounds up if the citizens of Philadelphia would raise 2,000 pounds privately. The plan Franklin noted "gave people an additional motive to give because every donation would be doubled and it gave the government an additional motive to give because every one of its donations would be doubled."
That's what these partnerships are all about. In these in other ways Franklin showed how government and private initiative could be woven together which remains today a very American approach. It helps all sides and it helps the public good, it leverages public dollars and it enables public and personal volunteerism and encourages private beneficence. It spurs civic involvement, it makes individual service possible, practical and useful and it facilitates ways for people, people like you met this morning who want to serve, who want to help, who want to work with others to do so in a matter that's practical and coherent. Franklin believed in volunteerism and in limited government but he also believed that there was limited role and a legitimate role in fostering the common goal. By encouraging and enabling community service, government, he felt could have the best effect and the most impact for its dollars while avoiding the imposition of too much authority from above. That was not a liberal philosophy, that was not a conservative philosophy. It was very pragmatic and new philosophy, one that turned out to be a very American philosophy. Let's keep it alive, thank you.
David Gergen, Moderator:
What a remarkable afternoon, we're all going to learn something here too. Thank you Walter. That was very, very - read the book, get the book, one of your next assignments, fourth mission for the 100 hours. I'm delighted now to welcome a former colleague, someone who's distinguished himself in the previous administration as Secretary of Transportation, he's now at (Inaudible), he's also on the board of City Year and a big supporter of this program, Rodney Slater.
Secretary Rodney Slater, U.S. Secretary of Transportation (1997-2001), U.S. Government:
Thank you. First of all I'd like to thank David for the warm and gracious introduction. I'd also like to commend him for this leadership in keeping the program going during this session of the program, where we really have to get off with a big bang, and have we not done that? Yes. With the business leaders here gathered, the academics, the young people who are benefiting from the program, it's been quite a time already and we've got just 98 hours to go. Let me also acknowledge Walter's very good book. By the way, we're giving you a little book notes as we go through this program and that too, is a good thing.
I'll be brief. It says that if truth were self-evident there would be no need for eloquence. There is a need for voices, strong and powerful and dedicated and committed voices. The power of the word. It gives birth to the idea, the idea comes forth in form and substance. But all cannot see the idea early on, they have to see it manifested and over time, we have prepared for this hour. Chesterton once said that you only learn to love something when you realize that it may be lost. The good thing about these voices is if they have the work of those dedicated and committed AmeriCorps individuals to point to, to give focus to, as we tell their stories and we tell a good story, do we not? We tell a story of 44 governors coming to their aid, we tell the story of more than 150 mayors coming to their aid, we tell the story of almost 200 college presidents and university leaders coming to their aid. We tell the story of more than 100 other individual, CEOs, some 250 of those and more than 1,000 community-based organizations coming to their aid. We are ready for this moment, we are ready for this time, because we have seen service in action.
Let me also say, I want to say that I see a direct connect, by the way between AmeriCorps and transportation. Yes. Transportation is the tie that binds. Correct? Service, what better tie to bind. Transportation can change direction, yes, just as Frost talked about two roads diverged in a yellow wood and long I stood as one traveler and watched as they bent in the underbrush and then I, like many of these young people, have taken the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference. There is this connection between transportation and AmeriCorps. And you know, I first got started in AmeriCorps out of a selfish reason. I wanted all of this good stuff that AmeriCorps represents and that City Year in particular represents to be in presence in Arkansas, in Little Rock in particular. And I hope that in some point in the future, we will be able to see that occur. But I'm here today because I want the programs that are already in existence that have already done the good work to have an opportunity to continue to do that work with the private sector supporter who are there supporting those efforts, with the universities there, the community-base organizations there to support their efforts. But they need a little help from a friend, our government, and so I'd like to encourage the President, who I had by an opportunity to - by way of an opportunity if you will - to talk to about this in none other places than Nigeria, Abuja Nigeria. And we talked about AmeriCorps. I know he's committed to it, and I believe that he will step forward and stand firm and be supportive of us in this regard.
Sister Johnice, let me close with some reference to your comments. You talked about that day, and it will surely come, yes, and she will be standing right there, with the President, and we will all, those who were there, standing in the circle as well, and maybe some in the audience and maybe some like Nector Hernandez will have to hear about it over the oceans and over the seas, but the day will come. We know that the day will come because what we fight for is good. And good has to have its day. Let me close with this. Last week, a number of people gathered on this great space, our nation's capital to reflect on the 40 year anniversary of another dreamer, if you will, who came to this wonderful place and in the shadow another dreamer, Lincoln, talked about his dream for a better America. I am confident and assured that 40 years hence we will be telling the story of AmeriCorps because we will survive this moment and we will grow every stronger. We will build from strength to strength and we, as that dreamer in his day, will change America for the better. And so there is the need for the voices, voices will bring forth the idea, the idea will bring forth the manifestation, the manifestation of good will change America for the better. We come, in the same way our Founding Fathers came to create a more perfect union, and that we will do.
David Gergen, Moderator:
Thank you Rodney Slater. You spoke of dreams. A few years ago, several years ago, there was young woman in Princeton who had a dream. She wrote a senior essay about an effort that she thought might make sense for the country, and she went out and tried to turn her dream into reality and it's been a remarkable story since. If you're looking for a second book to read, after Franklin, read her book. You know how her organization moved out all across the country, 5,000 people a year now come through, the graduates of that program, two-thirds of them have become involved in public education since they have an opportunity to teach through this program. Two-thirds of them remain engaged in trying to improve the quality of our schools. It all started with that dream, when she was in college. Ladies and gentlemen, the CEO and the founder of Teach for America. Wendy Collen.
Wendy Kopp, President, Founder, Teach For America:
Thank you for that nice introduction. It is an honor to be part of this display of the power of national service and to join the chorus both to avert the hundred million dollar cut we're facing now and also to support the President's request to grow AmeriCorps to 75,000 members. As David said, I started Teach America 14 years ago now, and at that time, so this is 1989 our generation was being called the Me generation. Supposedly all we wanted to do was go out make a lot of money, lead plush lives. We were being heavily recruited by investment banks and management consulting firms, and you know the liberal arts majors at the Princetons and other colleges all over the country really were flooding in that direction.
But knowing many of those people who were going in that direction, I had this sense that it wasn't so much that we were the me generation, we weren't seeing the opportunity to serve, that we weren't being called upon to serve. I found myself and I felt that I was surrounded by thousands of others who truly were searching for a way to assume a significant responsibility straight out of college that would enable them to make a real difference in the world, and one day that thought which was actually an obsession, combined with a long-time interest in education reform and just concerned about the educational disparities of this country to lead me to this idea, you know why don't we recruit some of our nations top graduating seniors, people of all different majors as aggressively as we were being recruited at that time into investment banking and management consulting but to teach in some of our nation's lowest income communities.
And really from the moment I thought of that idea, I thought this could be truly powerful in the short run because of the energy and commitment and talent that the people we would recruit would bring to their students and the schools in which they would serve during a two-year commitment and at the same time, I thought even in the long run, because we would be recruiting all these future leaders and really influencing the way they see the world and even the realities as they understand them in our country, and I though that could ultimately change the consciousness of our nation's leadership and really change our country fundamentally because they would ultimately make different decision. Well this was one of those ideas that was clearly meant to be, it was very quickly far beyond me and even in our first year, 2,500 graduating seniors from all over the country responded to a grassroots recruitment effort to say, I want to be part of this and ultimately 500 of them were selected, were trained by experienced teachers and teach for educators who said we want to help make this happen, were hired by six school systems across the country, and even in that first year, corporations and foundations donated $2.5 million necessary to make this possible.
Well since then, in the last 14 years, thanks in significant part to support from the Corporation for National Service and from AmeriCorps, Teach for America has grown. We've now placed well over 10,000 graduation seniors in 20 urban and rural communities across the country, everywhere from South Central Los Angeles to here in some of the lowest income communities in Washington D.C. to remote rural areas in the Mississippi Delta and Southern Louisiana and such. And in fact, as we speak, today because the first day of school in many places across the country, 3,200 Teach for America corps members, slightly less than 5,000 David, but we're getting there, and with the support of AmeriCorps we will get to 5,000, but 3,200 Teach for America corps members are assuming responsibility for classes of kids, and they join some 6,500 alums, many of whom are still engaged in this effort. Our corps members, over time, have proven that they do have a significant measurable impact in the lives of their students in their academic success.
There was a study done recently in Houston that looked over several years on the impact of our corps members on their students' achievement and that study showed that in every grade level and subject area in the study, our corps members had as great and in most cases, greater impact on their students' achievement than the other beginning teachers in their schools. Even more powerful, I think is the testimony that comes from school principals and superintendents who clamor for more Teach for America corps members, in annual studies, surveys of the school principals who hire Teach for America corps members, three-quarters of them say that our teachers are more effective than other beginning teachers whom they've hired and as David said early, this experience deeply, deeply influences the corps members themselves and leads them to spend their careers, really in leading change. They come to Teach for America, not thinking that they're going to pursue a career in teaching. These are people who are thinking, I'm deferring law school, I'm deferring medical school. Maybe I'll do this for two years and then go work for one of those two year corporate training programs et cetera. And yet more than 60% of them, even still, even including the people we started placing 13 years ago are working full time in education. Of the rest, the 40% or slightly less who leave the field of education, 70% have jobs that remain in some way, linked to schools or low-income community, so maybe they're lawyers but practicing in areas that relate to education, or doctors working in low-income communities.
So Teach for America has proven the power of national service, both in the short run in addressing some of our country's most entrenched social problems, and in the long run, in producing generation of civic-minded leaders. AmeriCorps has been absolutely critical to the growth of teach for America. In 1994, the first year of AmeriCorps, it became, it literally saved Teach for America. Up until that point, we had been fully funded by the private sector but those initial start-up grants that we got were going away and we were literally at that time, there was in fact an article in US News and World Report that said Teach for America goes under. And AmeriCorps saved Teach for America with an operating grant at that point which was some 40% or so of our overall operating budget. Teach for America's made a great deal of progress since 1994. Now our overall budget is $30 million and the AmeriCorps portion is a smaller portion of that. But still - so now in our overall budget $24 million comes from non-federal sources, $21 million even from non-public sources. The part that we get from the federal government though is absolutely critical. I think it's a point that not everyone here in Washington fully understands but in virtually every private sector fundraising meeting we go on, they want to know, how much is the government investing in this? Because they think, if they government isn't investing, then that must mean that this isn't a public service that has a significant impact, so they want to see school district support, they want to see state support, and they want to see federal support. So the operating funding that comes through AmeriCorps is absolutely critical in leveraging private dollars at least as significant, and maybe even more so, is the funding that comes through AmeriCorps - that comes in the form of education awards, the funding that enables our corps members to deferred their student loans, pay back past debt and pay for, in our case, university coursework that they take towards teacher certification requirements.
Since 1994, all of our corps members have received education awards and it's absolutely critical as one of the tools that we use to recruit. Each fall, and it starts this year in one week, we go into battle. And I mean battle. We are battling, the economy's slightly softer now, so less so that we used to be, but still goes on, investment banks, management consulting firms, grad schools who are competing over our nation's top talent. They all want the same people, the people who truly have the leadership skills that make people the most sought after in this country, and I pulled together actually just this past week, a group of our corps members who we've recruited last year, and asked them how important was the education award to your decision to do Teach for America. And you have to understand the recruits to understand this. I mean these are people who are first generation college students, under enormous pressure from their families who sent them to college to go out and get a good traditional job or maybe they're from a much more privileged family, a long line of lawyers, and their parents are saying, you're considering anything other than going straight to law school? They have a financial reality, half of our corps members have student loans, they're expected to enroll in thousands of dollars of course work during their Teach for America commitment to work towards certification cause, they also beyond the financial practical reality have to convince their world, the parents, the friends, others who are pressuring them to do lots of different things that Teach for America is a viable path. What I heard from a disturbingly large fraction from the people I talked with was that they didn't know if they would have been able to do Teach for America if it weren't for the education award, so AmeriCorps is absolutely critical to Teach for America, and to obviously many, many other AmeriCorps programs.
I have seen firsthand over the last 14 years, the catalytic impact of national service in the short run and in the long run and I'm convinced that if we can continue to grow AmeriCorps and can avert the cut that we're experiencing today that we will fundamentally change our country. We call ourselves in this country, the land of opportunity and just looking alone at the results of our educational system, at the same time that we think of ourselves as that, we tolerate the reality that kids who are just nine years old in an inner-city school are three to four grade levels behind nine-year-olds in a more privileged community. We tolerate that gap getting even wider from there to the point that if you happen to grow up in the South Bronx, you're seven times less likely to graduate from college than if you happen to be born in say, Westchester County. What Teach for America for one is saying is that this is has to be our generation's civil right's issue and what we're doing among many other service corps across the country is channeling their energies into addressing the short-term immediate reality of kids growing up today and at the same time building the leadership force for our country that understands not only the magnitude of the problem but the nature of the solution and is committed to doing whatever it takes throughout their lives to affect the fundamental changes that will truly make our nation the land of opportunity.
So we can accomplish all this, I am convinced. We've seen that Teach for America and programs like it work, we've also seen that scale is critical, and we're working to get to the point, just given the magnitude of the problem, that our corps members represent a critical mass of people working on these problems every day in their communities and that ultimately we have thousands and thousands of informed leaders in this country who are fighting for the broader changes that we need to see. In order to accomplish all that, though, we simply must do two things. One is avert the $100 million cut that for us has left three-quarters of those 3,200 people I spoke about earlier without their education awards and ultimately as well grow AmeriCorps to the President's requested level of 75,000 members. We have been told in no uncertain terms by numerous parties that unless we grow AmeriCorps to that level, Teach for America does not stand a chance of gaining any more AmeriCorps funding. So thank you for the broader effort to save AmeriCorps. I deeply believe that national service has the potential to ensure that our nation lives up to its ideals and I hope that the people in Congress and the President will act now to ensure that it fulfills that potential.
David Gergen, Moderator:
...Folks are going to be coming into the room as many as 150 and they may arrive momentarily, they may be crowded around but just to let you know what's happening, they're arriving for the third hour, they're going to be - well it's an interesting thing where the organizers here had to figure out, we've got 100 hours of speakers how did we have 100 hours of audience? That is a challenge, right? But they figured it out with good help from a lot of others and so it will have another 150 arriving momentarily. But in the meantime, we do have two more speakers on this first march, these first voices and we have two wonderful speakers still to go, let me introduce one of them here. Rodney Slater reminded us that just this past week the nation celebrated memories of 40 years ago in 1993 when Martin Luther King Jr. came to the steps of the capitol. There are many good memories from those days from the early 60s and one of those for those who lived through it, the memories of how another President another time and someone who is his close friend built the Peace Corps. It was a remarkable institution. It continues to be that. But it stirred the idealism of that generation, the coming of the Peace Corps really sparked something for those of us who were young at the time, and gave us a sense of what mission could be about. And now Sergeant Shriver's son has moved onto that great family tradition. He has not only - he is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He formed - founded the Choice Program in Boston. He is now the Executive Director of the Save the Children in the U.S. Program here, a program Save the Children which is very deeply entwined with AmeriCorps and Save the Children is yet another program which has a cloud over it today. And no one can speak more eloquently and the tradition of service that his family has represented for so long and so well in this country than Mark Shriver. Mark, thank you for joining us.
Mark K. Shriver, Vice President, Managing Director, US Programs, Save the Children:
Good afternoon. Everybody is still full of energy here? Hello? All right. They're bringing in a whole another 150 people? For me. Thank you. I'll keep talking then. I just want to say what an honor and privilege it is to be here to lend my voice to the 100 hours of voices that will be heard over the next 98 hours in an honor for a truly outstanding cause like AmeriCorps. Secretly Slater mentioned Dr. King and Mr. Gergen just mentioned the 40th anniversary as well. My favorite voice is Dr. King's and his quotation that I am most impressed with and that I often refer to is one that he said some 40 plus years ago when he called us all to serve, when he said, everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don't have a college degree to serve, you don't have to make your noun and your verb agree to serve, you don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve, you only need a soul full of grace and a heart regenerated by love. Some 40 plus years ago, as Mr. Gergen just said, our leaders whether they were spiritual or elected, challenged us all to serve no only our fellow Americans but people across this world. Some few months ago, President Bush in his State of the Union Address challenged us again to serve, and once again Americans responded to that challenged. It's something that's terribly wrong today. We're gathered in the Capitol City of the most powerful nation on earth begging the United States Congress and the President to heed their own call in the words of past generations to provide the resources necessary for us to serve our fellow Americans.
Cutting funding for AmeriCorps is more than just baffling. It is cynical and it is wrong to challenge us to serve and then to deny us the resources to do the job. The House needs to follow the Senate's strong bi-partisan lead and to approve the supplemental funding to keep AmeriCorps strong. It is time to end this debate and to get back to work on investing in our most important resource, our children. Why are we in this predicament? Does some actually think that AmeriCorps does not work with those most in need? Well with one in six children in the United States currently living in poverty, and with over 2.5 million of those children living in rural poverty, Save the Children to AmeriCorps programs serves the poorest of the rural poor. We serve children in the Navajo nation, where the average capital income is under $4,200 and where for every 100 Native-American children entering kindergarten only seven will go to college. We serve children in Appalachia and the Mississippi River Delta region where pervasive poverty limits both the opportunity and the aspirations of many American children.
The question then could be asked, is AmeriCorps effective? And the answer once again is absolutely yes. The indicators used to for academic achievement improve grades, increasing specific academic skills and completing homework. Save the Children's most recent evaluation to CNCS revealed that 70% of our evaluated youth demonstrated academic improvement. You can see it in Mousey, Kentucky, where two AmeriCorps members who managed a third grade class reading center and worked one on one with the students in the afternoon had a dramatic impact. For the first time, this third grade class increased its comprehensive test and basic skills by 20% in the areas of reading and language. And you can see it in Oneden, Nevada where two members of Save the Children's AmeriCorps workers worked closely with the Oeani Indian Health Services to open a learning center. Here, children participated and supervise after school activities including tutoring and recreational activities. Almost 40 kids visit that center everyday and in both cases whether it was in Nevada or in Kentucky, Save the Children and AmeriCorps are working together to create real and lasting positive change from impoverished children.
And finally, the questions, does AmeriCorps strengthen communities, can once again be answer emphatically and in the affirmative, yes it does. Over 95% of Save the Children's AmeriCorps members are recruited from the local rural communities in which they live resulting in members who are fully vested in the long-term sustainability of their programs being implemented on behalf of children. AmeriCorps has been tremendously effect at building stronger communities at the grassroots level as well. Save the Children's AmeriCorps members who were involved in recruiting over 900 community volunteers and they shared best practices in community services and training staff at sites in and around their communities. It is clear then, that Save the Children and its AmeriCorps workers are working with those in need, that we are achieving results and we're building communities but all of this work would by lost without the federal government help.
When President Kennedy asked, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country, he worked with Congress to provide the necessary financial resources. When President Bush challenged us to be "citizens and not spectators" surely he meant to provide the necessary support to make that dream a reality. I hope that the voices of the next 98 hours and the voices of the past will encourage our elected officials here in Capitol Hill to put the necessary resources behind a program that works with the poorest of the poor, that achieves results, and helps make our community stronger. Thank you very much.
David Gergen, Moderator:
Thank you Mark Shriver, and thank you for continuing your family tradition, a tradition which also calls for putting it out there, putting it on the line, which you just did. You may wonder now, well who are all these good folks who just came in? And if I might ask, the members of Youth Build USA to stand. Could all of you stand?
Thank you. You're all here from Boston, right? New York! The city. You're not from Red Sox nation, then, right? Well, you will be soon. Just wait a little while. Thank you for standing. Please sit down. Thank you. These good folk build low income housing in urban areas. They come to us today as young people who are volunteering and are putting their time in but this coming year they thought they would have educational grants under AmeriCorps, but they do not. They're part of what's happening across the nation to young people who want to serve, thought there was a promise and now find that promise wanting. To remember 1963, there is a check left unpaid to these young people. There is a check left unpaid.
Our final speaker for this hour even as we - where he is? Where'd he go? - we are moving into hour number three, they do add up! Hey! Mark Shriver and the good people of Youth Build are bringing fresh energy to this. We have one final speaker for our first session and that is Father William Byron who has served on the first commission on national and community service. He was appointed to that commission by President Bush senior. He has also been university President, one of many who've now support this program, he's the President of the University of Stratton and he was also President here, right here in Washington, at Catholic University, a very fine institution. Father Byron is now writing a book on corporate business ethics and you can tell us sir whether it will be a brief book, a short book, or a long book. And he's serving as a research professor at Loyola University which is a terrific institution as well. Father Byron, thank you for joining us.
Father Byron, President, Loyola College:
We're hopeful it'll be a long book. We're calling it Old Ethical Principles for the New Corporate Culture. Am I safe? OK. Harris Wofford, an old friend former university President, former Head of the Corporation on National Community Service called me a couple of days ago and asked me if I would come here and he asked me if I would pray. And he said there will be a rabbi and there will be an Imam (sp?) and he said we'll have an interface prayer. Well, I wind up as the only clergy person here today but I'm still going to pray, and I was reminded sitting over there a remark that Bob Hope made, the late and great Bob Hope, when he was with a Catholic priest, then there was a bit of a crisis situation and Bob Hope said, do something religious like take up a collection. And I think really, that's why we're here, to take up that collection for the $100 million that's needed to keep America going.
Early on, you young men and women in the blue shirts who came didn't hear her, but there's a young woman who came here and she said, today was the first day I ever flew on an airplane and I came here to talk about my experience, she was one of the voices for AmeriCorps, my experience as an AmeriCorps volunteer and how it started me off in another whole fresh approach to life, and when she said that, I rolled the clock back to when I was 18 years of age, and my first airplane ride was when I was training to be a paratrooper, I was drafted into what we then called the service. There were servicemen, servicewomen, we were in the service of the United States. And I had never flown in an airplane, which was not at all uncommon for kids in those days, middle class even rich kids because people didn't fly all over the place. First time I went up, I jumped and did all my training jumps and that gave me a riddle that I use with all my brothers' kids for many years: I flew in an airplane seven times before I ever landed in one, and then they'd look at you like that, but that was the way it was. But I was in the army at the end of the Second World War, I was in just for a year and a half, but in return for that service, I got the GI Bill of Rights. There were two months of college education for every month that you spent in the service and it was the greatest investment in human capital that this country has ever made and the return to treasury has been virtually incalculable because we all turned out to be pretty well-educated, pretty well-employed people who were taxpayers, returning the treasury maybe $400-$500 for every dollar that was spent.
What we got, by the way, as draftees, and it's interesting, I'll just get into this for a moment without getting too political. There are some people who are saying it's wrong to give service volunteers a stipend for their service. We got about as much money as it took in those days, as it would take these days to fill out a gas tank - we got that for a month's pay if you were in the army. The all-volunteer army now, they're getting about as much pay per year as it would take to buy an automobile and some people see a contradiction in paying stipends for people who are going through service opportunities because they say, what they should be doing it for nothing? Well, we did it virtually, for nothing but then we got a college education in return and it was a great investment and it moved a lot of my generation well along into very productive careers, but we were there when the country needed us and there are young people today who are there as the country needs them, because we face a cultural drift, we face a problem of purposelessness and when we get those blue shirts on kids and get them into building homes, we got them restoring parks and helping kids, we're giving them purpose and they're doing things for others that there's no way of measuring the impact. Just this morning I saw a friend here in Washington, I said I'm going to be up at an effort, a 100-hour effort to generate support for AmeriCorps and she told me her daughter had spent two years in AmeriCorps, she said in virtue of that she was able to get through college but she's now working in an office because now she says what I want to do is help kids, that's what I did when I was in AmeriCorps, that's what I want to do with the rest of my life. I'm an educator, and a number of people in the room are educators, and we all know the old saying, if I hear, I forget. If I see, I remember. If I do, I understand. Now doing service, as all AmeriCorps volunteers do, gives them an understanding, an understanding of human problems, an understanding of the way to apply solutions to those problems, an understanding not just of themselves so that they can know themselves better, but an understanding of their brothers and sisters in the human community who are in need.
I was on the board of AmeriCorps when it first started and a woman named Shirley Sagawa who worked for Senator Kennedy doing the legislation that the Bush one administration got - what's now AmeriCorps - the corporation now - it was then the Commission on National and Community Service, now the Corporation on National Service got it on the books and into reality. At the end of our first year, back probably about '83 or so, Shirley Sagawa and I chaired a hearing over in Russell Office Building in the Caucus room because we had to for a second, really our first effort to go for an appropriation for a second year of this program and we had a lot of people in a room like this testifying, and young, young volunteers proposed to us that we put a name on this initiative and call it AmeriCorps, the name AmeriCorps came from young people who were out there in the trenches and I remember a couple of years ago, I ran into the testimony and I said to Harris Wofford and said, here put this in your archives.
I am here to pray and it's here, we're into the third hour and I'm going to offer a prayer, it's my privilege to pray in the name of all of you, and some might say hey how about the separation of church and state, I say there's no separation of church and society. There's no separation of mosque and society, no separation of synagogue and society or temple and society. We are people, whatever our faith, we're children of Abraham and we look to the one God above and we ask that God to bless this effort, these 100 hours, 97 left, to bless the people who are deliberating about the future of AmeriCorps. We ask God's blessing on those who provide the service, those who receive the service, and as a Catholic Christian representing a broader group, I feel free to say, the one sentence summary of the life of Jesus was, in his own words, the son of man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as the ransom for many. So we pray to the God, the God of all the prophets, the God of Abraham, the God of all men and women everywhere and we ask that the hearts of legislators be moved so that the funds will be released to continue this saving work. And we pray that what we do here in the remaining hours of this great gathering, be for God's honor and glory. Amen.
David Gergen, Moderator:
Thank you Father. And thank you for offering benediction to these first hours, first gathering. As we pass the baton onto the next group, let me just speak to those of you who've arrived and tell you why we're here. And perhaps to summarize for those who have been here. This country, all of us here, properly pay honor and salute the young men and women who are serving us on the streets of Baghdad. Some of them may be your brothers and sisters. What we ask is that we also honor those who serve this country on the streets of the Bronx or in Buffalo or in Birmingham. There are many ways to serve. You can serve in a uniform, you can serve in a blue shirt, you can serve in a red jacket, you can serve in the snows, you can serve out in the deserts of this country. The important point is to serve, to give back, just as you're doing, those of you who are here in your blue shirt, and we want, we ask, we plead with the President and with the Congress to hear your voices, to understand your dreams, to honor your dreams so that 40 years from now you can look back and say that was a moment when I gave back and people understood what I was doing.
Now AmeriCorps was formed ten years ago. It grew up, sprang up out of programs that had started earlier. It was formerly named AmeriCorps and was funded ten years ago. And since that time, growing numbers of young people have volunteered, especially since September 11th, and you're among them, to go out and serve in whatever way they could, what best fit their talents. It's been a terrifically successful program and nowadays we find the program itself is in serious jeopardy and no one can understand it. No one who has been here and seen this and watch these young people go through this program what they have given and what they have gotten back by given can understand why we're here. But there are voices all over the country that have been raised in support of continuing AmeriCorps, to give it life, and we have three objectives in coming here today. The first, the most immediate, is to ask the Congress and the President to work together to pass $100 million in order to keep this program viable in going into the future. It is needed now, it is needed urgently and it is needed in the next few weeks and your presence here will help on that great goal.
The second goal is an intermediate goal, it's what we call midterm goal and that is for the Congress and the President to act together on future funding to put into place what President Bush has requested two years in a row and that is to take the size of this program up from 50,000 volunteers a year to 75,000 volunteers, and the Senate and the House will be making those decision in the next few months and they will make the decisions in a much more positive way if the White House will speak up. Not simply say, yes, oh by the way if you pass it, we will sign it. But speak up for what the President has asked for, to speak up for the funding this past year, and to speak up for future funding and to show leadership on an issue that goes to the core of what compassionate conservatism has been all about. We ask that they do that.
Those are the first two goals. The third goal, and is equally important, is the long-term goal and to take what you're doing and to turn it into a movement. And that is starting to happen. These various organizations that you belong to, you come in here, building houses, there are other organizations that are out teaching, there are other organizations that are working with prisoners, there are other organizations that are working with one kind of community service with food or one thing or another. There are organizations all over the country now where young people are signing up, but those organizations have rarely worked together. And this crisis, this challenge has brought those organizations together and they realize they have common cause and they now know let's build a movement and these 100 hours are all about building a long-term movement that you're going to be the pioneers in. You're right on the front lines of what can happen. That's why we thank you for coming here today to help achieve these goals.
Now to summarize again, what we've heard here in the first two hours is that there are so many voices out there that have been raised in support of AmeriCorps in this emergency funding and this long-term building of a national movement. 155 mayors have raised their voices in Senate petitions. In the Senate, as you know there are 100 senators? 79 senators, both parties, have raised their voices in support of AmeriCorps. 200 presidents of colleges and universities around the country have raised their voices in support of AmeriCorps. 250 CEOs have raised their voices. Among editorial boards across the country, newspapers across the country, 100 have spoken up about AmeriCorps, 5 have come out against it. 95 is running 19 to one have come out in favor of this emergency funding and saying don't cut these programs and over 1,000 community-base organizations have spoken up in favor of this great effort. That's what brings us together, to raise these voices. For you to come here sends an important signal in the heart of power here in this Senate Office Building, we were just joined by Senator Feinstein from California who heard you people were here, she was asked by Jumpstart, why don't you come along and say hello? She left her office immediately and came here a short while ago to come here and give her voice to this cause.
And our message to the President and to the Congress is very simple. Hear these voices. 641 voices and counting in these next 100 hours. Hear what they represent, and hear their message. Mr. President, members of Congress, we respect you, we also remember that you Mr. President and you the members of Congress have passed in recent years programs that have said to the young people in this country, we want you to serve. That you have sent out a message, please come and serve. Mr. President and members and Congress, you have lifted the ideals and asked people and raised their hopes that they could serve this country and we ask you please do not betray young Americans today, thank you. We end as we appropriately should with four former volunteers in AmeriCorps who want to raise their voices.
Just to let you know, we're going to sing America the Beautiful, the first and fourth verse. I don't think you guys got the lyrics, but the fourth verse goes "oh beautiful, for patriot your dream that sees beyond the years. Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears."
Oh beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain. For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plane. America, America, let grace be shed on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. Oh beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the year. Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears. America, America, let grace be shed on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
Charlie Rose, Dean, City Year:
Thank you, talk about voices. Thank you David Gergen for leading us off through this 100 hours of testimony, that was David Gergen who was speaking to you a moment ago who worked directly for four or five presidents, worked directly in four or five white houses, had written several books and was former editor of US News and World report. I just want to welcome my brothers and sisters from Youth Build, from Manhattan, I grew up in Manhattan so I know those folks here from New York. I also was on the founding board of Youth Build in Boston, when Dorothy and John Bell and others decided to take the youth action concept and move it around the country. Boston was on of the first places they came, and it's nice to see you here and frankly, we need the energy and we need the power of Youth Build and all the other organizations that are going to come in behind you all. And by the way, we all pay for this building and everybody who works in it so this is our place, make yourself comfortable, make noise if you need to, if you hear some testimony you appreciate, let them know.
We're in the third hour of testimony. We are - I want to encourage everyone to sign a petition. Two weeks ago we had about 20,000 people on petition, today we have 40,000 people signed up. By the end of the week, we're going to be over 100,000 so if you haven't gotten to www.saveAmeriCorps.org, I urge you to do that and get everybody you can to do that. We're going to be here on Capitol Hill for the next four days. We end Saturday with an outdoor rally and hopefully thousands of people. I would now like to bring up our first speaker in the post-opening ceremony from my home state, director of the Mass Service Alliance and the Massachusetts Service Commission, Kristen McSwain. Kristen, come on up.
Kristin McSwain, Executive Director, Massachusetts Service Alliance:
Wow, I'm overwhelmed by the number of people here to support AmeriCorps. Thank you. Your presence gives me home not only for the future of AmeriCorps and national service but also for that of our country. As Charlie said, my name is Kristen McSwain and I am the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Service Alliance which serves as the state commission on service and volunteerism. I am also 1991 alum for Teach for America. I mention this not only in the spirit of full disclosure, but also I because my participation as a corps member in a national service program directly impacts the work that I do as a head of a State Service Commission. For me, as for many others in this movement, my two years teaching fifth grade in rural Louisiana proved to be the impetus for what I hope will be a life-long career in service and volunteerism.
My own personal history in service is buttressed by that of Massachusetts'. Throughout the United States, the Commonwealth is well-known for its lengthy and distinguished history of service and volunteerism. Native son, President John F. Kennedy's inaugural call to service increased the nation's commitment to volunteerism and as we've heard, led to the creation of the Peace Corps in 1961. Since then, Massachusetts has continued to lead the nation in service and volunteerism. In 1991, we were the first state to establish a commission for national and community service dedicated to the implementation and expansion of service and volunteer programs. Innovative national service programs such as City Year, Jumpstart, and Youth Build began their AmeriCorps programs in the Commonwealth and serve as effective models for engaging youth in service. Massachusetts also has a wealth of institutions of higher education with robust community service programs that involve thousands of students in service and service learning. They are joined by thousands of older adults who volunteer in senior corps programs. The Commonwealth is also leading the country in K through 12 service, with ten nationally-designated service learning leader schools and innovative community-based programs like Citizen Schools that provide service learning to young people in out of school time. The corporate sector has also joined in the volunteer effort with companies offering incentives for employee volunteering and finally the state, led currently by governor Mitt Romney is establishing volunteer coordinators in every agency to ensure that volunteers are a vital part of state government. These are but a few vibrant examples of the long-standing and rich tradition of service in Massachusetts.
For the past ten years, AmeriCorps has formed the foundation of the ethic of service across cities and towns in our state. Last year alone, 1,058 members in 21 programs dedicated over one million hours of service to our communities. They tutored and mentored over 12,000 children. They removed 3.9 tons of garbage from our local waterways. They constructed housing for over 2,000 people. They provided healthcare and health services for over 28,000 people and they generated almost and additional 5,000 volunteers to join them in their service. They did all of this and much, much more. Each and every hour of service provided by Massachusetts corps members made a significant impact in the lives of those that they served. Children like Isabel, who initially said to her reading coach at Generations Incorporated, "I really like you Ms. C but I hate reading and I don't want to be here." The reading coach persevered and by December Isabel was writing a full paragraph about the stories they had read together and illustrating her work.
The service also made an impact on individual corps members, members like Erin and Kevin. Erin, a recent college graduate, began her commitment to AmeriCorps Cape Cod without any long-term vision of a career in public service. Her first year as a corps member demonstrated to her the incredible challenges facing Cape Cod's ecosystems. Through her AmeriCorps experience, Erin developed a passion for and a commitment to service as well as a deep understanding of her own personal capacity to affect change. Today I'm proud to say that Erin continues to serve America working for the National Park Service to protect our most fragile public lands. Erin is just one of thousands of intelligent, resourceful young Americans who might never have found a place in public service without AmeriCorps. Kevin had a very different transformative experience in AmeriCorps. After being court-involved for a year, he applied to Youth Build Just A Start, a program that focuses on at-risk youth. They provided him with training and carpentry and more importantly job skills like punctuality, developing a solid work ethic, and teamwork. Upon completing his service, Kevin secured a job as a construction apprentice. Today he is a journeyman with the company earning more than $35 an hour. But more importantly, he returns to the program every year to give his experiences to other incoming members with similar challenges.
Kevin is one of thousands of young men and women to whom AmeriCorps has given their first experience in a supportive, mentoring environment that provides them a chance to succeed while helping others. As I share Kevin's story, I can't help but wonder what will happen to those in similar circumstances who so deeply need this program and now won't have access to it. I mourn not only their loss but also ours. There are well over 1,000 stories just like this in Massachusetts. Each member is shaped not only by the training that they receive but also by their daily service interactions and communities. Unfortunately like most of the nation, service in Massachusetts is taking a beating of late. Remember the 1,058 members who served last year. Due to the AmeriCorps funding cuts, this year only 365 members will be available to meet the needs of Massachusetts communities. This is a 65% cut. It is devastating to children, elders, our environment and the members themselves. This year, instead of 21 programs and communities across the state, we will only be able to fund 11. Of those, eight have been reduced in size between 23 and 50%. In the aggregate, these cuts are substantial, but they have even greater meaning for CityCorps in Lawrence, YouthServe in Greenfield and the Greater Holyoke Youth Services Corp. Next year, the CityCorps AmeriCorps program and the Greater Holyoke Youth Services Corps will not exist. Last year, the CityCorps program in Lawrence provided classroom activities and tutoring to 500 elementary students, members organized after-school enrichment and service learning activities for 73 students and together with almost 500 community volunteers they completed eight service projects which included a river clean up and a food drive. These services will be sorely missed in a community that ranks as the 23rd poorest community in the nation. Where 46% of its residents live below the poverty level.
The greater Holyoke Youth Services Corps focused on promoting and maintaining public safety. Corps members works closely with the mayor's office to identify neighborhood trouble spots. They then provided a bridge between the police and neighborhood residents, they developed neighborhood patrols, they led community cleanups. This bridge was extremely important in a community known for its tough streets and gang violence, where 90% of teenagers report that the threat of violence is the number one cause of stress in their daily lives. Further west in Greenfield as result of a 23% cut in volunteers, the YouthServe AmeriCorps program turned away eight service partners in rural communities across Western Massachusetts. These community based organizations relied on AmeriCorps members to provide critically needed, safe, structured activities for 350 children during the out of school time. Next year with this cut, those organizations, may find it impossible to meet the needs of these children and their families. Even more heart-wrenching for AmeriCorps staff is that in trying to spread their limited resources they were forced to deny corps member placements to programs in isolated communities in an effort to serve as many children as possible. Our AmeriCorps members in Massachusetts provide a safety net for some of our most vulnerable citizens and communities. When an AmeriCorps member is eliminated, the effects are immediate and extremely real. An elderly woman loses access to diabetes and blood pressure screening. A young boy loses the tutor who would have taught him to read. And a troubled adolescent loses the opportunity to gain the skills and competence necessary for success. An AmeriCorps member provides all of these things for a little over 10,000 dollars a year. Never has so little provided so much to so many in need.
Especially in these troubled times, AmeriCorps members are less expendable than ever. The elderly woman, the little boy, and the troubled adolescent cannot afford to lose their safety net. We cannot afford to lose the opportunity to engage thousands of Americans in solving local problems, and to ensure that all citizens can participate in the American dream. Thank you.
Charlie Rose, Moderator:
Thank you, Kristen, for painting such a vivid picture of the reality of what these cuts are about. I was doing fine 'til she went up. Now I'm mad, see, 'cause my daughter started second grade today, my son started fifth grade today in a school that used to have AmeriCorps members helping the teachers who are already understaffed, so when you paint such a picture, I think about my own situation and all the other kids in the schools and neighborhoods of Boston. And around the country, but she was really talking about Massachusetts. I want to first acknowledge, before I turn this over to YouthBuild, I want to acknowledge one of our friends and allies. Senator John Kerry's office has been incredibly helpful to both AmeriCorps and YouthBuild in particular, and John Phillips from Senator Kennedy's (sic) office is here today. Thank you, John.
Throughout the week, congressional staff, Senate staff, as well as members of Congress and Senators will be here. Also want to acknowledge our friends from Experience Corps and also the Student Conservation Association who are going after YouthBuild.
The way we put this 100 hours together is, we asked different organizations to sign up for an hour or two, or whatever they could do, and one of the first groups to sign up and say, "Yeah, we'll be there, and we'll be there in force," was YouthBuild, and YouthBuild's been one of the leaders of this movement that David Gergen talked about, really bringing this movement together, and YouthBuild has been at the forefront from the very beginning, and one of the people responsible for that is one of my idols, Dorothy Stoneman. Dorothy, come on up and lead it.
And by the way, you can use the tables, you can...all these mikes work, so whatever you need.
Dorothy Stoneman, President, YouthBuild USA:
OK. I think there are some YouthBuild... I also want to honor John Phillips, who is in the room, or he was a moment ago. There he is in the back. Look around, he's waving. He's...
He is here representing Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts, who would be here if he were not running for President and making an announcement in another state, because he's always been an ally of AmeriCorps, and he's been the primary champion of YouthBuild and we're very happy to have John Phillips here who has been his surrogate for us for many years now. Thank you for coming, John.
My name is Dorothy Stoneman. I am President and founder of YouthBuild USA and Chairman of the YouthBuild Coalition, and I am very proud to also have been the founder and Chairman of the Board of the Youth Action Programs and Homes, which is the program from which and to which the young people in blue shirts and white shirts and ties come. And this is in East Harlem, New York. Youth Actions and Programs and Homes, and I'm happy to honor you, for you're in your sixth day of orientation as I understand it, the first day of mental toughness. You're not yet in the YouthBuild AmeriCorps program, which will now become the YouthBuild program, since the AmeriCorps piece has been lopped off by the cuts which have cut 80% of YouthBuild's AmeriCorps funds and education awards. There are 2,000 YouthBuild members around the country who used to get AmeriCorps education awards, and now only 400 of them will get it. There are another 4,000 who would like to be part of AmeriCorps, but that is off the table also, until AmeriCorps expands to 75,000 or 100,000.
So, we are deeply disappointed, and we come here today disappointed that the Congress and the President have not stepped forward to say, "We want the $100,000,000. We're not going to say no to any young people who want to get an education." Now, I want, before we go into the YouthBuild hour, I want people to understand a little bit, get a little background of what YouthBuild is, and before that I want to say there are a lot of people who have expressed surprise that this national service movement came forward with such force and seemingly so suddenly in the last three weeks to organize this 100 hours of service. But, this is not a new movement. Many of us have been busy for decades, laying the groundwork for a national service movement that would build the ethic of service into the core of American culture, a movement that would unleash the enormous untapped energy of Americans, especially young Americans, to bring goodness to the fore in our lives and communities; to honor the brilliance of ordinary citizens in solving problems, caring effectively, building community, and learning to love each other.
Some of us have been especially focused on youth as a resource and as a force for good. National and community services are a profoundly broad, deep, and bipartisan concept. We have always understood the points of light, and the armies of compassion. All the work of the service movement has been faith-based in that we have faith in the power of love, the energy of the people, the force of idealism, and the sacred value of every human being. We don't have to be committed to any particular religion to have faith in a future based on love and compassion, based on respect and responsibility. We have worked tirelessly for decades to make this a pervasive consciousness in America. AmeriCorps... this is why we've come forward to save AmeriCorps, because it provides the resources and the visibility; it deepens the American culture of service; it enables us to serve; it gives us the resources and the education award. The political polarization of America is damaging to our nation's soul. AmeriCorps is a unifying force, or at least is has been. It's inherently a healing force. Now I've come today with representatives not just of New York, but also of YouthBuild Philadelphia. Would YouthBuild Philadelphia raise your hands? Over there, right? Graduates.
Right, right. YouthBuild AmeriCorps and YouthBuild AmeriCorps from Columbia Heights in DC, some representatives over here.
And they are here to represent their peers in the following locations, where cuts have been made: Columbus, Ohio; Boston, Massachusetts; Cambridge, Massachusetts; New Bedford (Medford?), Massachusetts; San Jose, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Bloomington, Illinois; Rockford, Illinois; Los Angeles; Gary, Indiana; Portland, Oregon; Portland, Maine; Austin, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; York, Pennsylvania; Santown (sp?); Baltimore, Maryland; Brockton, Massachusetts; Brownsville, Texas; Burlington, New Hampshire--Burlington, Vermont, rather; Florida City, Florida; Guadalupe; Hammond, Indiana; Hartford, Connecticut; Kincaid, West Virginia; Delta in Louisiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Trenton, New Jersey; and Petersburg, Virginia.
So the young people here from YouthBuild AmeriCorps, former YouthBuild AmeriCorps, represent young people, about 2,000 in those other cities, who have lost their education awards. YouthBuild started in 1978. It's 25 years since we first asked teenagers in East Harlem, "What would you like to do to improve your community, if adults would get you the resources, take your ideas seriously, and make it possible for you to achieve want you wanted to achieve?" And they said, "We want to eliminate crime; we want to rebuild our dilapidated buildings in our community;"--there were 300 abandoned buildings--"we want to help the little children; we want to help the old people; and we want to improve the schools." So we did that. It was my job to help them get the money, and listen to what they wanted to do and help them implement their vision. When we finished rebuilding the first house in 1984 in East Harlem, on the same block where you all will be working, they said, "Hey, we want other young people to have the same opportunity that we have had to rebuild our communities and our lives. Let's spread this across the country." So we did. And we turned to Senator John Kerry, and to Major Owens, the representative from Brooklyn, New York, and we said, "Can you help us make this federal legislation?" And they did. And so, since then, with their help, there has been appropriation, a line item in HUD (?) of $400,000,000 total of funding that have come into 200 low-income communities for 25,000 YouthBuild students to build 10,000 units of affordable housing. And about 200 of them have been built in East Harlem.
When we started, we started with high school students and teenagers. We said "What do you want to do?" And as we grew, it shifted to be an opportunity for young people who dropped out of high school to come back into education, reclaim what they had given up, what they'd lost, and go on to college and into the construction industry, and when AmeriCorps started, YouthBuild started at the same time. And there was a wonderful synergy, meaning a good connection, partnership, between the Corporation for National Service and HUD, so HUD gave extra points to YouthBuild AmeriCorps programs, and soon there were 40 YouthBuild AmeriCorps programs and with the corporation providing about five to ten percent of the total funding for the 200 YouthBuild AmeriCorps programs across the country. Now, this combination of education, job training, and service hits the spot for low-income, disconnected young people who fell off the edge of society and have decided to climb back on, and there are precious few ways if you're poor and you've left school to reclaim a positive lifestyle for yourself. So YouthBuild AmeriCorps has a very special niche in our communities. At the beginning, the East Harlem students said to me, "Hey, we want to improve our communities, but we have to help ourselves. So we have to get paid, and we have to get an education."
So what's at stake now with these cuts is the higher education opportunity for YouthBuild students and graduates. Most YouthBuild students are not eligible for the military because they come into YouthBuild without a high school diploma, and you need a high school diploma to join the military. So we're here today to say, "We want to serve our communities; we want to get an education; we want to have the chance to go to college; and we want our country to stand for what we stand for. We know we have the power to make a difference and we refuse to be left behind, but we need our leaders to stand with us and to stand what we stand for and to give us the opportunity to be what we want to be." In the words of Nas (sp?), "We know we can (if we work hard enough) be where we want to be." Right?
Now, how does it happen that, only when I quote a hip-hop artist, is there any applause?
"We know we can be where we want to be."
It is very poor public policy to break the hearts of the young people, and to break the hearts of the idealistic aging people like myself as well. Now, it would be smart public policy to listen to the youth, to engage them, their insight, energy and perspective, in making public policy, not only in serving their communities in the tangible concrete ways, but to bring in their ideas and their vision of how the world ought to be. And that's what YouthBuild AmeriCorps also tries to do, and so I want to share this with the press and any other experts in the audience. This is the policy statement that emerged from YouthBuild AmeriCorps graduates who said, "We like to serve, and we want--and we love YouthBuild AmeriCorps, but we want the young people coming behind us not to have to go through what we went through. We want them to succeed the first time around, because the conditions are right for them in the schools and on the streets in our communities." So these are the changes that need to be made so that the service won't have to be making up for all of the mistreatment, and all of the discrimination, and all of the poverty that went before.
So I want to bring this Declaration of Interdependence to your attention. Smart public policy would listen to the ideas of young people who know and face reality every day on their streets. Now I thought I would be introducing Nina Saxon at this moment, a 1998 graduate of Youth Action YouthBuild AmeriCorps. Nina used her AmeriCorps award to go to Morgan State College, and she got loans and she worked her way through college. She graduated last June. She couldn't come today because it's her first day in law school.
All right. Right. She dedicated herself to her community and decided to go all the way with her education. So she is in law school. Instead, I am going to introduce two YouthBuild graduates from YouthBuild Philadelphia first, and then after that I will introduce Elijah Etheridge, who is the executive director of Youth Action Programs and Homes and who is Nina Saxon's mentor. So let me introduce Marvin Davis. Will you speak first, Marvin?
Should I stand for it?
Should I stand for it
Stand for it. Yeah. It's great. It's good background for the (Inaudible).
Marvin Davis, AmeriCorps Alumni, YouthBuild USA:
Got a little audience here. OK. (mike adjustment sounds) Ooo. All right. Sorry about that. (Inaudible) Hey don't worry about it. It happened earlier today, so ain't nothing. But anyway, hello, I'm Marvin Davis. I'm 19 years old, I'm a glad--I'm a graduate of YouthBuild. I'm glad to be and proud to be. And I know we heard a lot of gloomy things today, but don't let that get to you. I see a lot of people all like muuhh, what the heck, uhh, but--
DAY 1, DAY SESSION, 9/02/03
4PM - 7PM
country, so thank you for standing here and I guess it's part of mental toughness. I want to introduce Elijah Etheridge, who is the Executive Director of Youth Action Programs and Homes, the past President of The National Directors' Association -- no, no stand up here for Elijah, don't go away, I know he told you to come up for me -- I say come up for him, we're allies in this, sorry come on back. The visual image for the TV cameras and for the audience is important, thank you very much. We can't have Elijah without his students. Elijah is the mentor par excellence. The students from Elijah's program go on to college at the highest rate in the country. Elijah.
Elijah Etheridge, VP Advocacy YouthBuild USA, YouthBuild USA/YAPH:
Good afternoon. I'm scared almost to touch this microphone, so I'm not going to do that. It's indeed an honor to come to the Senate Building here in the United States capitol to testify on an issue that is so vitally important not only to the communities that's represented here today but is, in fact, it's my belief that it's vitally important to the United States of America. Knowing that we would be here today and knowing that this day, this hour that we have in the 100 hours that we have here, is largely due to Senator Mikulski and Senator Bond. I want to say that I was a former outreach representative for Senator Mikulski, where I served nearly three and a half years. I learned her politics first hand, as it pertained to job creation. The Senator would criss-cross the state of Maryland, speaking eloquently about her policies of creating jobs today and jobs for tomorrow. The Senator also felt very passionately about education and job training. In fact, in the early days of the development of AmeriCorps, I recall that Senator Mikulski was amongst the first to embrace the vision of developing the spirit of volunteerism throughout the United States of AmeriCorps in all of these communities that AmeriCorps has touched. I personally owe a debt of gratitude to her for all that she has taught me and for her continued support of YouthBuild and for saving AmeriCorps.
As a representative of the National YouthBuild Organization, I can speak to many pertinent issues surrounding the YouthBuild members and their participation in service. However, as a very special treat for all of us this afternoon, I am pleased to have brought with me some 75 young people who have applied to participate in the YouthBuild AmeriCorps program at Youth Action programs at homes in East Harlem, New York, but -- however -- none of these individuals will receive an education award for the service that they will provide due to the unfortunate cuts in AmeriCorps members this year. Two of these applicants will be speaking to you this afternoon. Abraham Talbert (sp?) is a 19 year-old and has applied to the YouthBuild Program and has expected to be granted a slot as a YouthBuild student for this year. Esther Romero (sp?) is a college student who, because of her financial situation, found it necessary to seek other funding, so she came to YouthBuild not only to do the training, not only to do the volunteer work that she's going to do in building affordable housing, but she came to YouthBuild AmeriCorps thinking that there would be an AmeriCorps scholarship at the end of the program so that she could continue to fund her education. You'll be hearing from them shortly.
President Kennedy made this very famous statement that has been etched into the hearts and minds of all of us. He said, and I quote, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country". I believe that statement was true then, I believe that it is true now, and I believe it will be true for the future. The young people of this great nation have demonstrated in many ways their willingness and their ability to provide many great, needed services. Whether it is tutoring a young person to read or putting bricks to mortar in the development of affordable housing, young people have stepped up to the challenge and to the call for service.
One of the most memorable demonstrations of this spirit of volunteerism that I can remember in YouthBuild comes to my mind in what took place immediately following September 11th, 2001. I was one of those who was at the World Trade Center that morning and I don't have to tell you the horrible stories of that incident, but what took place immediately after that, the very next day, the Youth Action, YouthBuild AmeriCorps young people mobilized themselves. Our young people quickly went to Ground Zero and to the Jacob Javitz Center to register as volunteers. They tirelessly worked by assisting in unloading medical supplies and food. Some of the young people were trained to give support and assistance to the Fire Department and the police officers who worked and gave their lives in many cases to save so many people. The YouthBuild AmeriCorps members stood shoulder to shoulder and toe to toe with some of New York's finest in the Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services to respond to an event that shook this entire nation. But the point that we must all realize is that they were young volunteers who were not concerned at that moment with what money they would receive, they were not concerned at that moment with what education award they would receive, they were not concerned at that moment with if the T.V. cameras were rolling or if anyone would take their name, they wanted to give a service. They wanted to know what could they do. They wanted to know how could they help. They wanted to know what could they do, what could I do, what difference can I make at a time that was so important to all of us in America. Is this not the spirit in which we would love all Americans to have in this democracy? Is this not the spirit that we would want to see on a daily basis in America?
Not just when a tragedy happens. The AmeriCorps program has instilled in our young people and reaffirmed the spirit of volunteerism throughout America. I want to share with you a quick glimpse of the true values of the educational award in the lives of the students that I represent. Just up I-95 is that great institution that has produced so many prominent leaders who've made huge contributions to society, Morgan State University. Morgan State is now providing an educational experience to several of the Youth Action YouthBuild graduates from East Harlem, New York. Several of them will be here to speak with you on Thursday evening, because today, of course, many of them are in registration and taking their first classes. You will hear them testify about the great value of the ed award in their lives. Many of them have said to me personally that if it were not for the education award, they would not have been able to afford to pay for their education. Just last Thursday and again yesterday, and if I seem like I'm a little bit, you know, buggy eyed and weary and tired, it's because I was on the road last night and I was on the phone with Dorothy while I was on the road -- don't tell the police that I said that -- but we had taken 17 of our graduates to two colleges upstate New York, which is four and a half hours way from the city, Herkimer County Community College and Fulton-Montgomery Community College. All of these graduates completed service in AmeriCorps and has an education award and believe me you, they are using that education award to pay for their education. But having the education award in their pocket plays a vital role. If they didn't have that, many of them would not be able to afford to go to school.
I'm sure that we will agree that education is the cornerstone of any strong, vibrant society. It should be said of this Congress that putting education at the highest priority, second only to national security, should be the order of the business of the day. As I return to my community of East Harlem, it pains me to have to look in the faces of young people and say to them that I am sorry, I have no education award for you. For these who have journeyed so far today who are not yet even YouthBuild students, have not even been accepted into the program, it pains me to say that unfortunately today I have no AmeriCorps award for you. In spite of all the work that you will do, in spite of the homes that you will build, I have no education award for you today. In spite of all the food that you will serve on the soup line kitchens in East Harlem, I have education award for you today. In spite of every young boy and every young girl that you will tutor and mentor and keep safe off the streets of New York City, I have no AmeriCorps for you today. My question to you, ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, is are we not yet deserving of an opportunity?
I want to share with you a unique relationship between YouthBuild and The Corporation for National Service. Over the past eight years, YouthBuild and AmeriCorps have worked collaboratively to not only provide a much needed service to American communities, but also to provide an opportunity for disenfranchised youth to gain access to education and to enter the economic playing field of the American dream. This is what we want for all of our people. Rich people or poor people, black or white, red or yellow, urban or rural, every American citizen is deserving of an opportunity to access higher education and it is the American citizens' responsibility to provide a service to the varied communities in which they live. Although the overwhelming majority for our youth bill comes from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and we are grateful to the Congress for supporting our program, the money that we receive from The Corporation of National Service is an important -- and was an important supplement -- to the participating programs. This is a unique partnership wherein 100% of the participants in YouthBuild AmeriCorps program are residents providing a much needed service in the communities that they live.
This is very important because each of the YouthBuild AmeriCorps members were ambassadors in their communities. They were ambassadors of hope in a community of hopelessness. They were ambassadors of light in the light and lifeless community. If I were to take you on a walk down East Harlem back some years ago, when I say lifeless you would see many abandoned buildings, stores that have closed up, apartment buildings closed up, bottles in the street, trash in the street, people with despair in their face, nowhere to go, people sleeping in the street. But if I were to take you right now into that area, you will see a community that have come back alive again. You will see stores operating, small Mom and Pop businesses thriving, people living in apartments. This is all the work of the young people and they have contributed much.
It is not widely known the extent of the need of job training and education that exists amongst this targeted population of 16 to 24 year olds. Research by The Center for Labor Markets Studies has shown that there are approximately 5.4 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 who either have left high school without a diploma or obtained a diploma but cannot find a job; 2.3 of this population live at or below the poverty level. The federal government's full-time, comprehensive opportunities for service, training and education, Job Corps, YouthBuild AmeriCorps, Service Corps and several other training initiatives only mount up to 250,000 to 300,000 opportunities. 2.3 live at or below the poverty level. Ladies and gentlemen, we're talking about two million people without an opportunity and more than that. Some may argue, and I have heard this argument, why should they get a second chance? Some may say that they should have gotten a good education while they were in school. They had a chance already. This is their argument that I have heard. Why haven't they gotten a job? I had a job when I was a young boy, I've heard that so many times. I had a job when I was a young lad, I was able to go out and find a job and I walked ten miles back and forth, we've all heard that before. My response to this is simple. What many of you -- or them -- would consider to be a first chance, when you take a real close look at it, may not have been any chance at all. Where you may think jobs or opportunities exist, when you look at it real close may be no opportunity for jobs at all.
I can tell you that one of the biggest employers of young people on the streets of New York and on the streets of many of our urban cities today is the illegal drug market. They are employing young people at an alarming rate, and they don't discriminate. You can come as you are. Who says all of this? Who says that this is important? Why I can tell that Sylvia Jimenez (sp?) says that this is important. She is a resident of 2295 Second Avenue who used to live in a shelter, but now she and her two children are now living in one of the buildings that the YouthBuild AmeriCorps students built from the ground up, thanks to the funding of HUD and AmeriCorps. Mrs. Jimenez also serves a leadership role in the community because she is now president of the tenants' association. Who else says that this is important? The other 120 families that reside at 118th and 119th Street, Second Avenue, New York, that now live in affordable, newly renovated apartments all done by the hand of the young YouthBuild AmeriCorps members. Hands that used to be instruments of destruction are now used to construction in community service.
Antoine Bennett, a graduate of YouthBuild AmeriCorps program in Baltimore said it best when he stated that "YouthBuild AmeriCorps has helped, has provided an opportunity for young people to move from being a menace to their communities to becoming a minister for their communities." I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the best investment that we can make is in the future of our nation. The best investment that we can make is in educating our young people. We can do none of this until we first change our minds to move providing education and employment opportunities to a higher level of priority in this nation.
Several years ago members of this august body confirmed the appointment of Secretary Alexis Herman to the United States Department of Labor. Secretary Herman once said that the fast highway to success was a paycheck and the fast highway to a paycheck was to be well-trained and educated, and I add that the best way to eliminate poverty is to provide education and job training and the ethic of service to those who are impoverished, that they too will be able to enjoy the many great benefits of participating in this free, open democracy that we have in the United States of America. Thank you very much.
Thank you. Thank you, Elijah. Well said, as always. Now, would Abraham Talbot come up and speak from the point of view of the students.
Abraham Talbert, Incoming YouthBuild student who wanted to serve, Youth Action Programs and Homes:
Good afternoon everyone. First of all I would like to extend a warm thank you to everyone standing before me for you support in our future through AmeriCorps grants. Your work and your presence is definitely appreciated. My name is Abraham Talbot, I'm a 19 year old. I live in the University section of the Bronx. I live in a single income family where there is barely enough money to cover the day to day expenses. Due to this fact I was programmed at an early age to settle for less, selling myself cheap. After a while my new goals that I would set for myself seemed impossible. I would lose interest in anything positive at all. Even life itself, you know? I eventually dropped out of school. I took to the streets. For two years I walked around in a dismal state of depression and anxiety. Finally, after my son was born, I once again felt a sense of importance. This caused me to want to better myself. I found that opportunity in (Inaudible). Realizing my faults and virtues, I was able to get back on the right track. I had to better myself so that my son could have a better childhood than I did.
I began studies at (Inaudible) to further my education and to better prepare myself for life in the real world. I decided to attend college after my courses at Youth Action so that I could become an automotive technician. See, I love cars but I realized that it takes knowledge to master them. I can receive that knowledge at (Inaudible) with the scholarship money from AmeriCorps and pursue my goals. You see, I know AmeriCorps has my best interests in mind, along with hard work I can climb the ladder of success straight to the top. Think about how many young youths deserve this opportunity at a fair chance at a decent life. An idle mind is the devil's workshop, so think about how many young men and women whose time would be occupied keeping them out of trouble and off the streets. I know firsthand that not everyone is willing to take advantage of AmeriCorps to advance themselves in life, but to save that only a handful, is that not worthy of striving for? We must learn to look for the positive outcome, even though we may have to take some risks to get to our target. The United States was built by risk takers hoping for the best. For years people put effort into ideas that before never existed and made the ideas come to life, so why is it that in these modern times we shy away from the idea of self transformation of one's self? By making the difference in the lives of a few we have taken the first steps in the development of the whole nation.
Miss Dorothy Stoneman is a wonderful example of a risk taker who has been reaping the benefits of her hard work and dedication since 1978, the year the first YouthBuild was introduced in East Harlem. She has, since then, taken a lead in the development of over 200 YouthBuilds across 44 states, changing the lives of many, so Congress -- don't be afraid to go out on a limb -- invest in our futures and win the admiration and love of thousands of students whose only chance depends on your decision you make first in your hearts, then on paper, to reinstate AmeriCorps back into our program. Please take advantage of this golden opportunity to do a good deed to help benefit my community and all the young doctors and lawyers waiting to emerge out of it. Congress, I cry out to you this afternoon on behalf of all my fellow peers at YouthBuild, to humbly plead that you acknowledge me as one in a single (Inaudible) standing before you, but as 7,000 young men and women I speak to you on behalf of those who cannot, who want to better themselves. I speak to you now for a nation of youth that put all their faith into programs like AmeriCorps and YouthBuild not because they're screw-ups -- no -- because they are trying to make the best out of the hand they were dealt. So I ask Congress who hold the power, reshuffle the deck and deal us a second chance. Thank you.
Now Abraham just stepped forth to demonstrate what youth leadership is all about, what YouthBuild AmeriCorps is all about, and why we have so much confidence in the raw talent and intelligence and power and energy of the young people who have not been heard in this country. This is Abraham's sixth day in YouthBuild. Do we need his voice in this country? Do we need it multiplied hundreds of thousands of times? Abraham is multiplied tens of thousands of times in YouthBuild and we want it to be hundreds of thousands of times. Abraham, that was beautifully communicated. Thank you. If this was your first speech, you did a great job. Would Esther Romero please come forward?
Esther Romero, Incoming YouthBuild student who wanted to serve, Youth Action Programs and Homes:
Hi, my name is Esther Romero. I'm 19. I live in Harlem. I come from a low-income family. I only have one parent who helps pay for my educational expenses. I just finished my freshman year at John Jay College. I'm majoring in international criminal justice. My dream is to study abroad in Japan after I finish my degree. Unfortunately, due to the raise in tuition and the recession of our economy, my family can't afford to pay for college anymore. We barely enough money to cover the bare necessities like paying for the rent. Life in Harlem is so hard and so difficult. Every day I walk by and see someone on the street depressed, lonely, living a life full of drugs and violence. The chances of getting hurt or getting killed are a lot higher than actually graduating from high school. I myself began to end up being depressed. I thought I would never be able to finish college, that I would end up with a low paying job of $5.15 an hour, but after slipping on a flyer from YouthBuild in the middle of the street and almost embarrassing myself I began to realize that I had been given an opportunity to finish my education and to help the community around me. I believe it was the perfect trade-off. Ten months of hard work and extreme dedication and focus in exchange for a few thousand dollars to finish my education. I thought that rebuilding the jewel that is Harlem, to restore it to what it was a hundred years ago, was the best thing that could ever happen.
When I discovered that the AmeriCorps grant would no longer be supplied to YouthBuild, I could see the faces of my peers become depressed, bleak and just as hopeless as they were before they even walked in. Their second chance at earning a decent life in America had been taken away from them, even before they had the opportunity to seize it properly. How can the unwanted and uncared for youth in Harlem and dozens of other cities be heard if their last chance is denied a few million dollars, a mere drop in the bucket? With 5.4 million voices in America waiting and wanting to be heard, eager to prove themselves as intelligent and as worthy as any other citizen of this country, how can we deny them? With 200 schools across the country, YouthBuild can only do more. The deprived youth of this great nation are being given an opportunity to transform themselves from degrading statistics to caring, successful individuals with high morals, the utmost respect for themselves and the urge to change the degradation of their communities. It is in the youth that we place our hopes for the future, but we must also help them because no one can do anything on their own. Let YouthBuild become a representation of America. With Congress's and the President's support, YouthBuild can not only save the unlucky few of this country, but soon cross the boundaries of this planet. Thank you.
Beautiful, well done. Another fabulous young leader coming forward. Aren't you all proud of your two representatives? I know if we had actually planned for it and we had taken ten hours, every one of you would be great spokespeople for your community and your peers. We now have to figure out a little something to do -- are we OK? We're OK. Then I want to invite Jason McDaniels from YouthBuild Boston to speak.
Jason McDaniels, AmeriCorps Alumni, YouthBuild USA:
Good afternoon, everybody. I've got a little something I want to say for YouthBuild Boston. Again my name is Jason McDaniels, I'm 22 years old, from Dorchester, Massachusetts. I just graduated from YouthBuild Boston AmeriCorps program in August and I'd just like to tell you all a little bit about myself and about YouthBuild Boston. I left school my junior year, 1997, I was sixteen. As soon as I dropped out I got my GED. It seemed to be a good thing but it left me with a lot of time on my hands so I started running the streets. I got into a life of crime that landed me in jail, got out of jail and still didn't have a direction or goal so I just started trying to get jobs at places where they'll accept me for my record. Then I got laid off from a temp agency, moved back to Boston with my mother, ran into my old basketball coach, asked him for a job and he introduced me to YouthBuild. I went there, seen about it, heard about it and I decided to start the program. Then that's when I had to write an essay on why they should accept me. I said I was trying to better my life and my education and that YouthBuild Boston would show me a way how. I also heard that they helped place you in jobs and I needed that because I was 21 and I was broke at the time, and the two things don't match.
At first I didn't really know what to expect of the program. The first couple of months were a bit tough, then I got voted on to the policy committee. I was assistant treasurer. I started getting into the program. I also started learning things like how to write proposals and cover letters and how to sell myself to employers. I used to have a bad temper and the life skills class that they offer you taught me how to control my anger and build my self-esteem. It all kind of took it's toll on me after a while and I also felt like I was in a family, so I decided to stay. But before I got there I wasn't even thinking about college or nothing like that. I thought about it a bit but didn't really see it happening for me, but YouthBuild gave me the motivation. Now I'm ready to go to college in January for communications. I got my education award by completing 900 hours of community service volunteering at the Boston Food Bank and building affordable housing. I never knew carpentry before I joined the program, and the work we did for people that needed it who can't build whatever type of house they want, the house we built was for a family with respiratory problems and it felt good that I was doing something helpful for someone. I wasn't just doing it to get paid. The family should be moving in sometime this way. I still ride by 3 Murray Avenue telling my friends and family that me -- YouthBuild Boston, me and my peers there - we built this house from just an old abandoned building. They used to call it a crack house because it was on a dead end street. We also did weatherization for community service, which is like putting plastic over the windows for elderly people to save energy costs over the winter time and it was a fun thing to do because I felt like I was helping out for the elderly people in my community and just giving something back.
My family loves the program, especially my aunt. She brags to her friends about me, tells me she's proud of me all the time. When I went to the Young Leadership Conference out here in D.C. back in May, I tell her about how it just like affected my life and gave me the motivation to go straight. Right now I've stayed on as a second year student at YouthBuild Boston, and I'm doing building maintenance. My goals are to graduate from college and volunteer as an alumni of YouthBuild Boston mentoring current students to help them get their GED's and to help them understand how they can make a difference in society. When I found out they was cutting funding for AmeriCorps, I thought it was going to take a toll for the worse. If they are cutting the program, then there are fewer students that will be able to come in, and that means they'll still be on the streets hanging out, getting arrested and just doing nothing with their lives. They won't know about voting or other things they teach you in the program about politics and they won't how know powerful their voice is as a youth and that they can make an impact in their community. I didn't even know I could vote (Inaudible) until I came into the program. I voted last year and I'll be voting for years to come. I just want to add one thing, that I, Jason McDaniels, is a voice for AmeriCorps.
Beautiful, Jason. Sitting watching you, I want to say to you how proud I am of you and to all of the young people from New York. Elijah laid out that litany of I have no AmeriCorps award for you. We are not done with this fight and I promise you that I and Elijah and all the other staff in YouthBuild will continue to struggle and try and get those doors open for you and those resources to you and we will do it together and that's what this 100 hour is about is this 660 people coming to speak, we are not done yet. For those who are waiting for the next hour, there is one more young man from YouthBuild Boston, Ivan Santiago, to speak, and then we're fortunate to have with us also Bob Kerven (sp?) who will speak after the young man. Bob Curvin is one of the founders of the service movement in this country and I'll introduce him then, but Ivan Santiago, would you speak for YouthBuild Boston.
OK, you all are going to excuse me a little bit, I kind of misplaced my speech, so bear with me. A little bit about myself, my name is Ivan Santiago, I'm 21 years old. I have two children: a four year old and a two year old, they're both boys. Let me get to a little bit about me. I dropped out of high school in the 11th grade, 1999, I had to drop out of school because I had to go home and take care of my son for a time, I had to, well, his mother just seemed to not want to be in his picture so I had to become a mother and a father to my son. A little on the course of that. My son has a lot of disabilities. He's blind, he has severe developmental delays and I spent a lot of his first two years in and out of the hospital with him, which is one of the reasons I had to leave school. After my first two years with him, I got him situated in a little daycare which wasn't too far from my house and I actually started working at another daycare which is actually for the same corporation, just in a different part of the city. I worked there for a little bit under two years. I was bus monitor, food service assistant and an assistant teacher. I spent a lot of my time in the school with my son and at the daycare. I kind of got approached by a family relative of a child who was in the daycare and they was asking me "why you working in the daycare surrounded by women?" and it kind of threw me off. It kind of furthered me away from wanting to work with kids, I didn't want to work with kids anymore after that, so I left the daycare and pretty much did nothing for like six, seven months. I spent a lot of time at my son's daycare just learning about how I can work with him and one of his teachers told me "why don't you go out and try to make yourself an education for yourself to help you financially better your child?"
So I went about that. I tried a couple of different things and then somebody told me about YouthBuild, and I was like "alright fine, I'll go to school and get paid while I'm learning, why not?" So I did that, and when I actually went into YouthBuild I found out that there was more than just getting my GED and getting paid while I was learning. We did, like Jason was saying, affordable housing for elderly people and people with respiratory problems. We've also done food service projects. We worked at a food bank doing a community service project there which was, we had to fill up these big old boxes with just a bunch of food to hand out to people who didn't have enough food. We did a daycare which is right across, right on the side of our building. It holds a capacity of 100 kids plus it's got a second floor with a bunch of offices. What I did pretty much at YouthBuild was, like I said, the affordable housing, I went to Washington D.C. with Jason and the Young Leaders Conference and there I met Dorothy for the first time and a lot of other people from YouthBuild. It was just fun, I mean I had a lot of fun there, I had a ball. Pretty much, now my goals are just to finish college, start a career, not just a job, a career, something that I can leave to my kids as they get older.
I think out of my own perspective, if we lost the funding for YouthBuild or for AmeriCorps, it would be a lot of kids that have the shoes that I had on won't have the shoes that I have on now. They'll still be in those same shoes. Instead of moving forward they'll fall at an angle and go a different way, so I think if we did lose this funding, not just in Boston but across the country, we'd have problems with registered voters -- which we already have a problem with now, people 18-24 don't vote -- and that problem would increase severely if we didn't have AmeriCorps to guide people and to show people this is the reasons why you should vote and this is the reasons why you need to stick in to your community. Pretty much that kind of sums up what my little thing had to say, I'm kind of nervous but, thank you and have a nice day.
Pretty good for the man who lost his speech. I want to tell you that all of our data show that YouthBuild AmeriCorps graduates do vote. Now I want to introduce Bob Curvin. Bob Curvin, when he was at the Ford Foundation, gave YouthBuild USA its very first $50,000 grant. He said "God, if you're going to spread this thing across the country, you might as well do it right. I may as well give you some money so you can do it." We began with that grant and kept moving and he has been a friend and ally ever since and the Ford Foundation and ever since, he supported all the national services initiatives in the early 80's that have now come to this day to this 100 hours to these testimonies, and so Bob, let me introduce you.
Bob Curvin, Former President, Greentree Foundation:
You've all been very patient and I know that we are way behind schedule and I will be very brief. In a way, I'm just grateful that Dorothy told me about the hearing and gave me an opportunity to come and be a part of it, because I don't think that there's anything more significant that has happened in the last 50 years, legislatively in this country, than the creation of national service. I though about this a lot, I have seen many of the programs as Dorothy has said, I have been to City Year where it brought tears to my eyes to see a young woman who had no speech, deaf, for the first time was part of a group of speaking, hearing people and as passionate and as articulate in her own way of explaining how important it was for her to help build a playground in a poor section of Boston. I know Robert Clark, and I've had a wonderful relationship with Robert Clark. Robert Clark is a former street gang member, served time in jail, lived through all of the difficulties that make for a terribly hard life. Robert Clark today is a college graduate who is a YouthBuild director, and even better than that in my hometown Newark, New Jersey where I can keep an eye on him.
I've seen the incredible way in which service has changed this country. Quietly, effectively, sometimes not too visibly, but very powerfully. Changes in university curricula that now incorporate service, changes in high schools and colleges that now require service as a part of a college experience. Changes in neighborhoods where playgrounds have been built, as I have said. Changes in the environment where organizations like the Student Conservation Association has kids go out and build bridges across streams and helps to clean up the environment. Those things are extremely important. They are not only important for what they do for the society but they are also important for the opportunities they give to the people who participate to grow. In service, the point has been made over and over again here, particularly with YouthBuild, that service has two prongs to it. It's about giving and growing, and if you can't have the growing aspect of it -- which is the college stipend, which is the opportunity to get a GED, which is the opportunity to feel good about contributing in society rather than seeing yourself as a burden in society -- if you can't have that as part of service it comes very close to something that we had years ago that we used to call slavery. Work, contributions, service to society has always carried a form of compensation of some kind with it, and to think of going back to a time, as the critics say, "Why do you need the government to be involved in providing for service?" I can assure you if you did not have the government involved, if you did not have the support that comes from AmeriCorps, that many of these young people here would not be reached, first of all. You would not have the kind of effect that you have had.
I am particularly fond of YouthBuild because as Dorothy said, she had a way of introducing it to me that was so dramatic and emotional, we had a meeting one day to talk about whether or not there would be an expansion of the program, and I get a phone call -- I'm at the Ford Foundation -- and the security guard says "Hey, there are about eight tough looking guys here who say they want to see you". I said "they want to see me?" He said "Yes, with some woman named Dorothy Stoneman", so anyway Dorothy comes up to my office with these eight YouthBuild Youth Action project participants and it was kind of interesting. They all walked in the room. They had on their street faces and they looked a little uncomfortable and I would have been too if I had just walked into the Ford Foundation from Harlem. The people at the Ford Foundation were more uncomfortable than they were, but we won't get into that. Anyway, we sat down and we started talking and we spent two hours or so talking about their lives. I can tell you it was that moment that I was sold. Without that -- I mean, these were young people who had experiences that you and I certainly have not had and don't want to have. They had children, they had time in jail, they had time on the streets, but to a person they had been transformed. They had turned their lives around. They had begun to have confidence in themselves. One of them even graciously got up and just astonished me in the way that he thanked me for the meeting and gave me a little bouquet and said "You really handled this meeting very well", which I thought was great.
But I tell you that we can't let these kinds of opportunities end, we just cannot. We have to fight, we have to fight. I think maybe one of the most positive things that is coming out of this is that all you young people are learning a very, very important lesson. You don't get anything for sure without fighting for it. If you keep fighting you'll get it, you'll win, I assure you, because you will create a movement of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people with more voices who will demand that an administration that talks about building democracy in Iraq has to be willing to commit to democracy here at home. I am pleased to be here, to be on record, to say I am still a devoted, passionate supporter of YouthBuild, and I believe that service is one of the most important things that can happen in this country. The people who originate it, who began talking about the ideas for service, talked about the opportunities that were there for work to be done, but they also talked about how consistent it was in the framework of democracy. They quoted de Tocqueville, and they talked about his observations of America as a place where people had this unusual spirit of generosity and willingness to help other people. We have to fulfill that, we cannot let it die. We want that 100 million and we want the conversation to continue to think about how we can sustain this program without having to come back with these kinds of fights every year. Thank you.
He is the kind of champion to have, is he not? I would like to put Elijah on the spot. It was earlier stated that there was not other religious denomination, man of the cloth, present. So if Elijah would close the YouthBuild hour as a Muslim (Inaudible), with a prayer that speaks to what we have been addressing, we will then close this YouthBuild Hour and turn it over to you. A one-minute prayer from Elijah.
I heard that comment and I thought that the pastor had spoken and prayed so eloquently that it covered every faith base that is to be covered, but I will say (Inaudible), with the name of God most gracious, most merciful, we pray and we ask God to bless these proceedings. To move in the spirit and the hearts and the minds of those who have the ability to make a change in the lives of so many, that they do what we have all asked for them to do. We ask Godspeed to those who have the power to bring hope to hopelessness, the power to bring life to lifelessness. This is our prayer. We pray this in the name of the one true living God, Amen.
Charlie Rose, Moderator:
Thank you, Elijah, thank you Dorothy, Bob, Abraham, Esther, James, Ivan, all of you. Appreciate it. We have hit our fifth hour so we're going to put five up, we're going to turn it over to the Experience Corps. I want to thank them for their patience. We're running seriously over, which is funny because we've got a hundred hours to fill, but it's important and with experience comes, I guess, patience, so we appreciate it. I want to turn it over to John Gomperts (sp?), and before I do, Bob on the way out just tell Robert Clark I said hello, tell him Charlie Rose said hi. Appreciate it. YouthBuild, if you could stay with us for the whole 100 hours great, if you have to get back on a bus and go home and do your work, we all understand an appreciate that as well. So we're with you. Ladies and gentlemen I want to turn it over to John Gomperts, who is one of the founders of The Corporation For National Service and now the President of The Experience Corps.
John Gomperts, CEO, Experience Corps:
Well we've got some people who've got to make a train, so could I get my friends from the Philadelphia Experience Corps - Rob and Arleen and Harold and others to come up and sit right up here? Thank you, and we will first hear from our friends at the Philadelphia Experience Corps. While they're taking their places, let me just tell you a little bit. I've been involved with national service for many, many years now in many, many places, including The Corporation For National Service. Right now Im fortunate enough to be the CEO of Experience Corps. We'll let these people go too, we'll move here and we'll move there. Experience Corps is an innovative and award-winning program that creates opportunities for older adults to engage in vital public service and community service.
We've heard a lot today and we'll hear a lot for another 95 hours about the way that AmeriCorps creates opportunities for young people to serve -- which it does, in large numbers, and we hope in larger and larger numbers in the future -- but AmeriCorps also creates an opportunity for older Americans to serve, and now Experience Corps is the largest AmeriCorps program that focuses on creating opportunities for older Americans to serve. We're in 12 cities across the country, from Philadelphia to Portland, from Boston to Port Arthur, Texas. One of the original programs, one of the Experience programs, was in Philadelphia, and Rob Tietze who's sitting in the middle, here, was one of the founders of that program and has been with it for a long time. He is one of the ranking experts on Experience Corps and has seen the way in which AmeriCorps has helped Experience Corps to grow. So I'm going go turn it over to Rob. Rob is sometimes a little long but he's got a bunch of friends with him who need to catch a train, so we'll see how he does, and he brought with him a handy timer, so I'll start by turning it over to Rob Tietze. Rob?
Rob Tietze, Project Director, Experience Corps/Temple University :
Thank you John. Thank you all. It's an honor to be here and have an opportunity to throw my voice into the mix about the importance of AmeriCorps, what it means not just to our program but -- I think -- to our country. Being from Philadelphia, and originally I'm not from Philadelphia but I call myself a Philadelphian now, I've been there for quite a while and I think about volunteerism and it's early stages in this country, with Ben Franklin and the first volunteer fire company, and I think about the tradition that volunteerism has in this country and the importance that AmeriCorps plays in the 21st century.
How many people have heard of Maggie Kuhn? Anybody here? Maggie Kuhn is the founder, or was the founder, of the Gray Panthers and was a wonderful activist and someone who brought great energy to a cause. At that time it was involving older adults in community and seeing older adults as a resource, not a liability. She had a chant that I won't try to imitate here today that she left every group with as she toured across the country and had her voice heard. Maggie said something -- a lot of wonderful quotes -- but one of the things she said was "We don't have a single person to waste", and when we started Experience Corps it was very clear that most volunteer efforts out there and things like AmeriCorps and other funded programs were looking mostly at younger people. We wanted to be here today to let you know that there is a voice from the older side of the lifespan. Experience Corps in Philadelphia's average is age 67 and 1/2 years old and you're going to hear great stories from the folks around me as well as one of the principals at one of the 15 -- soon to be 50 -- schools in Philadelphia. So Experience Corps gives a voice that -- that AmeriCorps is more than just young people, it's everyone, it affects everyone in our communities and in our country. I'm going to read some numbers to you. Two hundred volunteers, 67,000 hours of service, 2,000 children served, 35,000 tutoring sessions provided, 150 teachers, 900 parents. That was this year. In 2006, 900 volunteers, 225,000 hours of volunteer service, 10,000 children, 240,000 tutoring sessions, 600 teachers, 3,000 parents.
None of this would have been able to happen nor will it be able to happen without AmeriCorps, which provides the anchor and the foundation for Experience Corps. Those numbers are Philadelphia alone. They don't include the other 13 sites around the country. Those numbers are one thing. People want to know the impact of those numbers. Is it making a difference? Sixty-five percent of the children who've been involved with the volunteers of Experience Corps have increased at least three reading levels this year. Twenty-five percent of students have increased over two grade levels. One hundred percent of the teachers involved in this project want the program back, feel it's making a difference and has shown increased classroom involvement, interest, behavior and enthusiasm with those children who've been involved in Experience Corps. One hundred percent of the principals involved in the program feel it is one of the most important programs they provide in their school. Many schools have chosen Experience Corps over other programs due to budget cuts and they feel it's the last program they would want to cut. In addition, a pilot study we conducted in Philadelphia two years ago showed that over 70% of the kids increased in self-esteem, increased in positive attitudes towards learning and school, and towards reading.
But perhaps the biggest story for Experience Corps is the older adult. We have an incredibly large demographic shift in this country. More people today are living over 65 than all the people that have lived to 65 in the last 100 years. Over 20% of the population will be over 65 within the next 15 to 20 years. Older adults are skilled, experienced, active and committed. Experience Corps provides a vehicle for them to get involved in their communities and in their educational system. Our older adults report a commitment to what they once saw as a lost cause, now a re-energized vision for what our schools can and should be doing, and wanting to play an important role in that.
Finally, I'd like to say before I turn it over to the people who really make Experience Corps and really tell the story of this incredible program and the initiative that has been underway now for seven years, when John Gardner said "our older adults are only increasing natural resources in this country", I'm not sure it was completely accurate after hearing the folks from YouthBuild and meeting other young folk from other AmeriCorps programs. I think it really is a cross-generational resource that people of all ages who are volunteering and serving our communities are making an incredible difference. AmeriCorps provides a foundation for the future. It's essential to maintain that sense of volunteer entrepreneurship that has made American volunteerism unique to the world, and I hope that our leaders will see that and support it, and I'll end and turn it over to you guys.
Thank you Rob, thank you.
I went over time, even with a clock I think I went over time.
Well that's alright, we know.
Thank you, all.
Do you want to introduce people?
That's a great idea because I feel an honor to be with them, because they inspire me, the work I do, and when I look at the hard work they're doing and their dedication, it re-energizes me and I've had the opportunity to work with all these folks. To my left, Harold Allen has been in the program for seven years now and is just a mainstay and a leader and we call him our spiritual leader for Experience Corps. Next to Harold is Helen Johnson who is a staff person, used to be a volunteer in the program several years ago and has now become a field coordinator. To my right, Belinda Cousins, who also was a volunteer and is now a part-time staff field coordinator, and it's the leadership of older adults that's sitting at this table, this sense of experience that hopefully we're tapping into. Elise Raynor who is also a former Corps member and is involved in managing our intake of new volunteers and recruitment and has been a real lifesaver for our staff. Finally, last but not least to my right is a good friend a wonderful colleague who I met about a year and a half ago -- it seems like longer than that, Arlene -- Arlene is the former principal, is just retired, from Bryant Elementary in West Philadelphia, and a new school that came on board last year. We have 15 schools, now we're going to 50 over the next few years. Arlene is now working with Experience Corps to help us recruit new schools and work with the School District of Philadelphia. I'm not sure where we should begin. Why don't we start with Harold and
Go ahead Harold, you have the floor.
Why is everybody always picking on me?
Do you want to start down there?
He always says that, he always says go ahead.
I think it's better if the mike's a little closer. Go ahead.
Harold Allen, Experience Corps:
OK, I just want to say that the Experience Corps is a terrific program because it takes two elements of our society that people consider as a big problem: the young people today, whom you just heard -- and everybody's talking about young people getting in trouble, creating problems and so forth -- and unite them with older people like myself who are considered to be a drag on the economy, a growing cost of keep health, medical, all the benefits. So we're taking two negatives, and all you math students know what two negatives create when you put together: a real positive. Just what we've seen earlier, we've had the opportunity to share our experience. I was born in 1930, the year of The Great Depression. My generation has lived through The Depression, World War II, all the greatest ups and downs that have hit this country -- the good and the bad -- and have survived and are able to take this experience, the name speaks for itself, and reach out to the young people today who are being told that they are a problem, that there is no future, and we're able to convey to them that they are the future and they can succeed. From us they have learned that famous statement that we used to say back in the day "I am somebody". We saw that earlier and it's the most rewarding experience I've had in my life. I'll just pass it on to the rest of these guys. I just want to say, to quote John F. Kennedy when he started the Peace Corps back in the early '60's": "This is the toughest job you'll ever love". That's it.
Helen Johnson, Coordinator/AmeriCorps Alumni, Experience Corps/Temple University:
Good afternoon, my name is Helen Johnson, and I just want to wish everyone thank you for having me come up here and share my experience with you ladies and gentlemen. I've been in Experience Corps for about five, six years. I originally became interested in tutoring, it originally started with my granddaughter. I used to take her to school and sit in on some of her classes, and in that session what I used to do would be help out with the classes, with the teachers, and I saw "oh, well there's a need for this, for the experience of an older person to help the teachers out". So I said oh OK, good, this is what I'll do. Fortunately Experience Corps called me. I came in for an interview and they said "Oh, this that and the other and your experience and would you like to do this?" and I said "Oh fine, yes, this is what I'm looking for." In the interim, I accepted the position, I went into the schools that tutor, which I loved, I thought it was -- for me it gave me a lot of rewards and also a lot of challenges -- from there I went to field coordinator. That was another challenge that had came through for me. I said OK, let me try this out and I'll -- I took that position and I just loved it because the challenges was there.
I'm still working with the students, which I love, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing the work. I have an excellent boss, Mr. Tietze, he supports us very well, I have excellent co-workers over here, which support us, problems that we have, fine. I'm not going to take up too much of your time because they informed us that we only had two minutes, so I'm going to conclude and say that it is very important to have our seniors go into the school and tutor our young people. Thank you very much.
Thank you, I'll give you that ten dollars later.
Belinda Cousin, Experience CorpsUnidentified Speaker (Belinda Cousin??):
Good afternoon, thank you for having me. I grew up being told children should be seen and not heard. In today's society it's seniors not being heard. We are a natural resource that's almost always overlooked. Thanks to AmeriCorps for realizing the usefulness of seniors. AmeriCorps realized that seniors could be a remarkable asset to our children, bridging the generational gap, tutoring, mentoring and giving that extra cup of love to our children that need it so much. In this day and time when life has become more and more stressful, families are suffering. Parents -- especially single parents -- are struggling to make ends meet. Many parents are having difficulty coping and the children pay the price. Because of circumstances, young children are having to deal with adult problems. These children bring these problems with them to school. We find these children need more one to one attention than teachers are able to give. As an AmeriCorps volunteer, I had the honor of tutoring some of these special children. To watch these children grow from insecure and fearful to confident is so rewarding. To have a child come to tutoring unable to write their name, recognize letters in the alphabet, not know their numbers and months later that child knows not only how to write their name, recognizes all of their letters and numbers, but has caught up and in some instances has surpassed some of the children in their class gives you a joy and pride that you can only imagine. These children look forward to the time spent with their tutors, and so do the tutors. AmeriCorps senior volunteers give these children one to one tutoring, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, and hugs in abundance. We give words of encouragement and praise when needed. These children give us a purpose, joy, pride and unconditional love. You couldn't ask for me. Because AmeriCorps believed in us, we seniors were given the opportunity to make a positive difference in these children's lives. Right now we're in a win-win situation. If AmeriCorps loses funding, we all lose. Seniors, children, schools and society. Do we really want this for our children? I think not. Please do not cut our funding. Thank you.
Elise Raynor, Recruiter, AmeriCorps Alumni, Experience Corps/Temple University:
My name is Elise Raynor. This is my fifth year with the Experience Corps. My first three years I worked in the classroom with the children in one on one tutoring sessions. I would like to tell you of a little story with one child that was assigned to me in my first year. I'll call his name as Jamar. I went into the school and out of the two months that the school had been in session, Jamar had missed 18 days. He was assigned to me and I talked to him and I said why do you miss school so often? He said "because I don't have any clean clothes to wear and I'm ashamed to come to school." So that bonding was taking place with this child and he had confidence in me to tell me that, and I asked him if he knew how to wash and he said "yes". Will your mother allow you to use a washing machine? He said yes. I told him what to do, what detergent to use if his mother would allow him to use it and to watch his clothes each night and the next morning put those clothes on and come to school. Jamar started to do this and after about two months into the school session Jamar came to the teacher in the room where I was assigned and said to her "I want to be the first student this morning". He had this book in his hand and I looked at him and I says "Now, what is he going to do?" She said "Jamar wants to come over first". I said OK. Jamar came over to me and he read a book. It was repetitious but he read the book. So you see, we as tutors during a one on one session with children not only enhance their reading skills but they build confidence. We build confidence by listening to them and giving them advice.
So I say to you as a tutor, we are needed, as seniors, with our wisdom and our time in the classrooms in the elementary schools. I have decided since I've been in the school for five years working with the Experience Corps that this program is so beneficial to our children that now I would like to take part in going out, presenting the program -- the Experience Corps program -- to whoever will listen. To group homes, senior citizens' centers and people that I just meet. They say "you talk about Experience Corps so much, you must love it". I say I do. I love helping the kids, the children, our children. Because if you can't read and understand and retain what you're reading, how far do you go in this society? How far can we go? So now I'm also encouraging all of the seniors that I meet -- and they say you talk about that program, the Experience Corps, the Experience Corps -- I say it's a wonderful program. So without the funding to get the materials that we need for each child's level of reading, we won't be able to reach these children. We won't be able to enhance their reading skills. So where will tomorrow be? They are our tomorrow. So I will continue to be an advocate for the program to those I meet and will listen. Thank you.
Arlene Morris, Experience Corps:
Good afternoon, my name is Arlene Morris. I am, as Rob just mentioned, a retired school principal. It's hard for me to get those words out. This is the first time in 35 years that I have not opened a school, but it is -- I feel -- equally empowered and important in speaking about Experience Corps. Also, I am a city kid, a poor city kid who went to a city's college on a scholarship and got involved in the educational field through a community service project in the late 60's. So this is continuity in my life. I speak from the perspective of an elementary school principal. We are constantly seeking partnerships with communities and agencies so that we can provide direct academic support and social and emotional support to our youngsters. Experience Corps model provided that intensive support to the children at the Bryant School. I'm talking about a school that will be 100 years old in just a couple of years in a neighborhood where there is a 98%, for want of statistics, poverty rate. Very challenged by the challenges that can come up in an urban area. Experience Corps was an invaluable source of intensive support. Twelve wonderful retired adults from the Philadelphia community provided direct tutorials in literacy assistance to approximately 40 to 50 percent of (Inaudible) third grade children. The reading levels and the literacy skills increased, as Rob said, as the children made academic progress.
Equally important, however, behavior and self-esteem improved as kids responded to the impact of an intensive, continuous, one to one intense attention, concern and praise in the areas of language, reading and writing. Children below grade level who were very self-conscious -- and kids quickly find out who can read and therefore who is smart and who cannot read -- opened up with their tutors. This for the cost of what one half-day support service assistance would cost in our schools. Let me put a face on this. His name is Juanay (sp?). Juanay came from several foster placements with some serious motor delays. Jaunay quickly convinced us or did his best to convince us that he would not learn and could not learn. However, Jaunay had not met Miss Angie from Experience Corps, who -- with the aid of a simple shoebox and some sand -- within three months had him not only writing letters but had him writing words and reading words. So the impact is real. The program was not labor intensive to the school's staff. There was no conflict with other programs or school district initiatives. Faculties are also very suspect of new programs because they are hit with a lot of changes in education. This was a flawless match. There was no problem, and that suspicion was quickly dispelled as Experience Corps became part of the school culture. Standing on the shoulders of the experience of the Corps members, our children flourished during their one to one sessions. The tutors created a special environment for kids as they received the sustained attention and concern, and the staff brought their years of expertise and training and social skills and community and family values to our school community and enriched us.
The program had a profound affect on the lives of the children and on me, personally. We need to continue this support. It's part of our educational process. We cannot abandon those kids who are most severely challenged by the social and economic conditions in the inner city. We do more together than we can ever do alone, and when you realize that 50% of our high school kids in 9th grade in urban areas often drop out, and that an indicator of prison populations is proficiency in literacy by the third grade level, it really is not a question of can we afford this, it's a question of how can we not afford this. I thank you for your time.
Thank you, thank you all. That was a fantastic presentation. To just sort of show how fantastic it is I'll sell a book for a second. This is Bob Putnam's new book. Bob Putnam wrote "Bowling Alone". He has this new book out called "Better Together: Restoring the American Community". It's a profile of 12 projects and programs across the country, case studies of 12 projects and programs across the country that are rebuilding the American community, creating connections among people across communities, and one of the programs that's featured here is Experience Corps and specifically the Experience Corps in Philadelphia, which you all have just heard about and actually some of the people who you've just heard from are in this book. So you should definitely buy Putnam's book. He'll be here tomorrow morning, I think, at 10:00, Putnam will, Professor Putnam will, and thank you to all of you who came from Philadelphia to tell us your stories. It was really spectacular. I appreciate it.
I know you have a train to catch. I hope it's a little late. While our friends from Philadelphia are leaving, I want to ask the other folks from Experience Corps to come up. We have people from Baltimore -- Sylvia are you here also? -- and from Washington D.C. and a couple of people who've been involved in the development of this program for some time, now. I think we have enough chairs for everybody. Let's just grab chairs. Tom, you coming up? Yes, Rob needs this all aspects of his life.
That's my watch battery.
We turned the mikes up a little bit so you dont have to get them right in your face. I think there are two more chairs right here. We're going to leave Rob's timer here? Rob should take it with him for all of the things that he does. Alright, this is our second panel on Experience Corps and we have a wide range of characters on this panel, and friends, from people who've been involved in operating the project to people who are involved in supporting the project to people who are involved in creating the project. There's no really, really logical way to pick who's going to go first, so following on from what we did with our folks from Pennsylvania, I think I'm going to ask Sylvia McGill and Tom Glass from Baltimore to speak first because they have the farthest to get home to their families for dinner and then we'll move on to Larry Clark and some of our other friends that live closer by. Tom, do you want to go first?
Tom Glass is a Professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and he his colleague Linda Freed were intimately involved in figuring out this whole idea of Experience Corps right at the beginning. They are co-creators of the idea of Experience Corps. Tom will talk not only about what's behind Experience Corps but then Sylvia will talk a little bit about how it's played out in our project in Baltimore. You heard a lot from our participants in the last panel about the satisfaction they got and the progress that the students that they tutor and mentor are making. A lot of that owes to the work that Linda and Tom did in thinking through and conceptualizing this program, along with my colleague Mark Freedman from Civic Ventures in San Francisco. So first, Tom Glass.
Thomas Glass, M.D.:
Thank you. Professor Putnam, I'm glad you pointed out his newest book. He gets a whole book to talk about Experience Corps and related programs. I get four minutes and
Take five. Take five.
Thomas Glass, MD, Professor, Johns Hopkins Center on Aging:
Oh that's good. Another minute. Congress might want to know whether Experience Corps works, what effect it has, and I'm here as a scientist and researcher from Johns Hopkins. I'm part of a group of four or five faculty who have been partnering with a community agency from whom you're going to hear in a moment, and the school system in Baltimore, as well as a hundred very brave older adults who have been Experience Corps volunteers. We've been studying, using the most rigorous techniques available to scientists and researchers, what the actual impact of Experience Corps has been in the city of Baltimore. So I'm basically going to very briefly make three points to try to describe the results of our research so far, to give you a flavor and hopefully provide a non-technical summary of what our scientific results show.
Point number one, we now have substantial evidence that having Experience Corps volunteers in elementary schools who are AmeriCorps participants is working for the children of Baltimore. Last year 105 AmeriCorps members put in over 45,000 hours of direct service in 60 classrooms throughout the city. Substantial improvements in standardized test scores were seen at these schools, and we are in very challenged schools, schools that have been underperforming, that are at risk of being taken under receivership, schools where there are tremendous social and economic and educational challenges. Between 2000 and 2003, the percentage of students in grades one through three that have scored satisfactory or better on national standardized test scores in math went up 27% on average in our six schools. In reading, the numbers of children scoring satisfactory or above went up 13% in grades one through three. Over the past few years we've seen that the number of students called to the principal's office for disciplinary problems has been cut in half. We saw no such trend in the schools that we have been studying that do not have Experience Corps volunteers. This has been one of the things that principals have consistently commented on as a way of judging the overall impact of the program on the schools. Short-term benefits have been seen in our own testing in children's vocabulary, reading and classroom behavior, compared to children in schools without volunteers. We've been doing what's called a randomized clinical trial. The same sort of scientific study that would be done to test a new drug, for example, so this is potentially very powerful evidence about whether or not this program works. The principals unanimously tell us that Experience Corps has made a tremendous difference and like Mr. Tietze had just said about Philadelphia, they all want us back. It's a universally admired and appreciated program in all our schools.
Point number two, Experience Corps is a win-win strategy that benefits older adults as well in measurable ways. We've been studying both the impact on kids and older adults. After studying 128 people ages 60 to 86 who have been entered into the program, we find that 63% are more physically active after they've been in the program, we have measured declines in the number of falls, the need for canes, and for improvement in chronic diseases, the control of chronic diseases such as diabetes. After participation in the program, seniors are in better health and they report that they are stronger, compared to those that we have studied who are not in the program. We've been able to show, using rigorous scientific methods, that Experience Corps participation slow the decline in walking speed that we see in non-participating seniors, and although this is still preliminary evidence, it suggests that giving back to the community in this generative volunteer role has the potential to slow the aging process in ways that could lead to a higher quality of life in older people and we're very excited about this kind of finding.
Finally, evidence is mounting that Experience Corps works for communities. Since Experience Corps joined AmeriCorps we've achieved an 80% retention rate, despite the fact that we are asking seniors to agree to be in the schools for 15 hours or more a week. It's a high level of commitment for volunteers, and our folks have been doing amazingly well, despite the expectations that many people have of older folks and older volunteers. More than half of our volunteers when they join say they want to be in the program for three or more years. It is devastating to tell these people that a federal program doesn't have room for them after just two, and we urge Congress to consider reworking the regulations around AmeriCorps to make them more friendly to our vital senior volunteers. Of the 105 volunteers last year that signed up, they all signed up for two year terms of service as part of AmeriCorps, and right now in September 90% of that group is eager waiting to get back into the schools. We have 100 older adults who have answered President Bush's call to service and they are calling us daily to see if Congress is going to cut the guts out of this program or if they'll be allowed to go back into the school. These are not yuppies, by the way. These are older adults from these communities and behind them is a long line of others who are waiting to be trained and deployed.
The President has called for an army of volunteers to tackle society's toughest problems and Baltimore has responded. The kind of cut that will occur without Congressional intervention will devastate this program. Each full-time AmeriCorps slot becomes four part-time older adult volunteers working in some of the most challenging, underserved schools in Baltimore. If we see these cuts come to fruition, this time in the next few weeks we will see libraries close, we will have to tell volunteers to stay home, that there is no place for them in the schools. Teachers will be under increasing amounts of stress in the classroom, and parents will not get a call from a concerned volunteer about a child who is struggling. The upward trend we see in test scores will be in jeopardy and an exceptional program will have been stopped in its tracks. Thank you.
Unidentified Moderator (John Gomperts?):
Thank was fantastic, thank you Tom. Sylvia McGill is the Director of Education at the Greater Homeward Community Corporation, which actually administers the Experience Corps program in Baltimore. Sylvia?
Sylvia McGill, Director of Education, Greater Homewood Community Corporation :
Greetings from Baltimore. My role is to work to improve the education in seven of the city's more challenged schools that lie in our neighborhood. Greater Homeward is involved in this effort because we believe that you cannot build inner-city neighborhoods without schools that families will send their children to. Without question, the one program of the many we offer in each school, the one program that the principals would not give up, ever, is Experience Corps. They see this as the key to their students' continuing and climbing success rate. Our program is similar to others discussed, and you heard Doctor Glass talk about it a little bit. What is unique about our program is the fact that we put 15 to 25 seniors in each one of the schools where we operate. This transforms the climate of the school and provides the old-fashioned community environment where children know that caring adults are always there for them and watching them. The 100 seniors who were in our schools last year spent the summer wondering if they were going to be able to go back to school this fall with the kids. We're still faced with the possibility that if as many seniors as predicted they will go back choose to do so, that we may not have enough slots for them. It is time to recommit to this senior AmeriCorps volunteers nationwide who want to give back to this country of ours and stop holding committed individuals like these hostage to the yo yo funding that has been going on with AmeriCorps.
To help you understand how vital this program is to our schools, let me share a few facts with you. The first year the program was in our schools, as Tom mentioned, 50% of the office referrals were cut in each of two schools and the third school it was over 36%. This means that instead of having 175 kids who misbehave and are sent to the office, you have 75. That creates a classroom where all children can be taught more effectively. Children in the program also showed increased vocabulary scores. They went from the 30th percentile to the 40th percentile in one year, because of the increase in conversation with caring adults. Teachers in the Experience Corps classrooms have a higher perceived efficacy rating, meaning that they perceive themselves as better teachers. In each of the schools with a program, the principals routinely talk about these 15 hour a week senior volunteers as our staff, which clearly confirms that they are seen as an integral part of the team that is turning these schools around. Teachers in schools with a program perceive that the school has a more clearly defined set of rules for appropriate classroom behavior and stronger procedures for dealing with inappropriate behavior. That isn't true, but because Experience Corps members are there, the schools are more able to enforce their discipline standards. The first year that the program was in place, student improvement in the Maryland State Standards Test improved in the schools from 21% to 120% in one year. Two of the schools improved over 100% in one year.
Since our principals started school today and were not able to be here, I'll have to share their comments with you. One of them says "the volunteers are absolutely dependable and committed to our children. They even come on snow days." Teachers love their volunteers. They help the children focus on the teacher and they help with the culture of our school. One of our principals said "in our school, only one out of every 43 kindergarteners failed to meet the standards at the end of the year in the child development checklist. I attribute this to the Experience Corps volunteers in their classroom. Our teachers value them as well. One of them said 'with a senior in our classroom, I do less shoe tying and more teaching'. Another one said 'she, the Experience Corps member, makes such a difference in my classroom. With the two children who are a little slower, she can take them aside and catch them up. I can keep teaching.'" Every year we have requests from other principals who hear about this program and ask us to expand across the city, and in fact we've been discussing it with the mayor, and we were looking at possible expansion to other schools this fall. However, instead of an expansion, this vital program that has proven that it provides better education for urban children is being forced to scale back.
Lest you think only the children benefit, let me share a couple of quotes from seniors. One of them said "before, I felt there was nothing for me to do, like I had gotten too old for anything." She was 63. "All children need is someone to listen to them" said a mature African-American man who gave every child in his school a hug every day to start their day off right. "It gives me a chance to exercise my brain", said one, and another one said "children are exciting. You can learn from them. They keep you moving. Mentoring them has given me a better outlook on myself". Another one said "I just love working with them and helping them to learn wrong from right." We need your help and the help of everybody in Congress to make this great win-win happen in every neighborhood where there are seniors who think they're too told for anything and students who desperately need them in their lives. This program offers new meaning to mature lives and a reason to get up in the morning, as they often tell us. It also offers a loving, caring adult for a child who may not have been blessed with one at home, and it makes teachers feel more competent and more effective as teachers. How can we as a country continue to threaten this program, this AmeriCorps Experience Corps program, or as one of our seniors said to me "there are more kids like these and more old people like me out there who need this program." Thank you.
Unidentified Moderator (John Gomperts?):
Thank you Sylvia, that was tremendous. We appreciate it. Next, we're going to ask Larry Clark for a few comments. Larry is the president of the HRC Foundation and a big supporter of Experience Corps right here in Washington, D.C.
Larry Clark, President, HRC Foundation :
Thank you, good afternoon. I am Larry Clark. I'm also a member of The Senior Executive Service and work for one of the federal agencies here in the Washington area. However, this afternoon I'm here as president of a small family foundation that has provided seed funding and continues to support the Experience Corps activities here in the nation's capital. The growth and success of this program in our community is in part because of the resources that AmeriCorps has been able to provide during the past several years, and I, like others, am strongly in support of restoration of AmeriCorps funding. Our small foundation seeks opportunities for giving in areas that do not receive heavy philanthropic support and where our very modest resources could make a difference.
We decided to focus our efforts on the area of the elderly and the aging. Many elderly people, especially after retirement, often face an unfamiliar set of challenges including social isolation and boredom. I think Tom can elaborate, but research shows that rates of depression and suicide are higher in older people than in the general population, yet we're realizing more and more that older people are an invaluable, untapped and growing resource that can make a difference in the lives of young people and their families. Challenges facing our school systems have been well-documented, not the least of which is adequate staffing and the inability to provide individual attention to students. Not surprisingly, therefore, inter-generational programs that bring older people and children together have a very strong appeal for funding agencies and for private foundations, and they represent an opportunity to get maximum benefit from volunteers and charitable giving. Inter-generational programs allow young people to receive extra love and attention as well as guidance and support from a caring adult. From their experiences they are able to better learn about a society in which they will work and raise future families. Also the older people involved have an opportunity to feel connected, valued, and have an investment in the future.
With the changing demographics in this country and the growth of the number of older people in our communities, our foundation thought that Experience Corps provided a proven and effective inter-generational program that benefits older people and young people who, after all, are critical to the future of our communities. Here in D.C., Experience Corps provides several schools with a cadre of caring, older adults to improve academic performance and development of young people to help the schools become caring places and to strengthen ties between the schools and their surrounding neighborhoods. Experience Corps members work directly with children, tutoring and mentoring them, providing homework help, and giving attention to those children most in need. In addition, as we've heard often this afternoon, members work with teachers, administrators and youth workers to develop projects such as parental involvement campaigns, library book drives, that benefit the entire school and the community.
AmeriCorps is central to the success and the effectiveness of the Experience Corps program. Experience Corps members receiving AmeriCorps-provided stipends spend significant time in the schools. As you've head, 15 hours a week. This high level of activity is necessary for program continuity and effectiveness. These members also coordinate the volunteer activities of others, who spend less time in the schools and receive those stipends. I had occasion to attend the Experience Corps school year-end festivities in June, and I met many of the volunteers and AmeriCorps members. I was truly impressed with their enthusiasm and level of commitment. This program was clearly benefiting many at-risk children in some of our most economically challenged communities, but it is also providing valuable opportunity for many retirees to provide meaningful service to their communities and help their self-esteem.
From my professional career in Washington over the last 20 years with the federal government, I am well aware of the difficult choices Congress must make with discretionary funds, but this should be a straightforward decision based on positive results. From my philanthropic viewpoint, AmeriCorps provides necessary leveraging of resources to augment private resources and thereby allowing worthwhile programs such as Experience Corps to grow in order to serve more needy children and enrich the lives of older Americans who tutor and mentor them. We find it an effective and synergistic program for helping to build healthy communities and productive citizens. AmeriCorps provides Experience Corps Washington with $100,000, which is matched by $300,000 from other sources including our foundation, and additionally matched by untold time and resources from volunteers. Demand is great. Experience Corps should be in at least 50 schools here in the district, not just six. I know I speak for many other funders in private philanthropy. I strongly urge Congress to restore AmeriCorps funding and provide the 100 million dollar emergency funding that was approved by the Senate in July. Thank you.
Unidentified Moderator (John Gomperts?):
Thank you Larry for those comments. This is a good moment for me to point out that Experience Corps does receive very generous funding from a variety of private sources. AmeriCorps funds account for approximately 1/3rd or a little bit less of the annual budget of Experience Corps. However, those AmeriCorps funds are absolutely crucial for providing stipends to participants and I'm not sure exactly how the Congress or the administration think that programs like Experience Corps or any of the other programs that we've already heard from or will hear from in the future in this session can operate without the kind of support that they've received from AmeriCorps in the past. Thank you again Larry for your support and for your outstanding comments.
Next I'd like to call on Romaine Thomas, who comes to us actually with a couple of hats on. Ms. Thomas is a former school principal, so she knows whereof we speak about tutoring and mentoring in schools, but she's also the president of the Washington D.C. chapter of A.A.R.P., and A.A.R.P. has been a crucial supporter and partner to Experience Corps since the beginning, so Ms. Thomas.
Romaine Thomas, President/Retired School Principal, AARP- DC State Office :
First of all, let me say good evening to all of you, and as stated my name is Romaine Thomas and I am a member of the Experience Corps here in Washington, D.C. I want to tell you what Experience Corps means to the schools where it serves and to the members it serves. I know that AmeriCorps members are very important to the way Experience Corps works and the impact it has on volunteerism, so please understand that my remarks are especially related to AmeriCorps.
I am a recently retired principal, and I must say too that this is the first year I didn't really open up school, so I have a little bit of nostalgia from that after 30 years in D.C. public schools as a principal, and indeed in a very poor neighborhood that qualified for every child to be on the free lunch program, so that tells you in itself that this is a school where we really had a lot of children at risk. I can't tell you how many of these children lack the caring adult attention that many children receive in their lives. I also know that there were many single parents, foster parents, grandparents and families who did their best to support their children but were severely handicapped because of economic, physical or cultural conditions which often were beyond their control. Many worked extra jobs to make ends meet. Poor health set limitations on others, even though they had the will to cope. Many parents and households lacked the literacy skills necessary to provide support for the academic progress of their children, and children who lived in such environments were indeed lucky if an older relative or teacher or even a minister took an interest in them.
You know, when we think about that kind of scenario, we must admit that we just cannot leave the upbringing, education, social adjustments of our children to chance, and that's actually what is happening in many, many cases. The challenge is greater than ever as we face the new demands on accountability, on standards, and especially as we face the laws of no child left behind -- NCLB -- and The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act -- IDEA. Not only is there a need for more federal assistance to meet such a mandate for both of these laws, but we also need strong volunteerism and programs that will serve to challenge such laws and also provide the resources and the expectations that are there in terms of reaching the goals that have been established. Indeed we can look at Experience Corps to address such problems, and it has been proven that evidently they can find solutions, so indeed this is very good evidence that we ought to maintain such a project and such a program, definitely, in our schools. Experience Corps provides consistent help over a full year, and I found this out to be true in the schools here in the district, and this assistance is provided for struggling students. They also receive academic support and also support with some of their cultural and social expectations, and it has been proven -- as has been stated here at this panel -- that such efforts demonstrate and serve as a clear example of what works, especially and specifically in our schools.
There are other special characteristics of some of the kind of support that has been demonstrated in terms of providing children with additional assistance in learning how to study and also in providing inspiration and hope and self-confidence in children who have been constantly discouraged by failure. Also, there is the aspect of help provided to teachers because of the additional service from other adults who give them an opportunity to focus on the actual teaching and the progress of the students. Also, we have found that -- has been stated -- that we raise the level of expectations not only of the children but also of parents. I believe every school would benefit from an Experience Corps, and let me add that I'm very happy that funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies will provide some of the funding for our program to expand to 16 schools by the school year 2005-2006. But without at least a few AmeriCorps members at every school, efforts will be in vain, the program just won't work.
So therefore I urge Congress, and I join all of you in terms of providing that very volatile voice and the volatile energy that's needed in order to focus on providing the kind of assistance and pressure, if you will, for Congress to give us that extra attention we need in terms of providing laws for more funding. It's not just enough to provide those laws, because if we don't provide the laws then we will not have the kind of support that we need, and as I think about it, many of the volunteers come to prepare to work with us in our schools and they join in supporting the efforts that are there for American volunteerism, and of course it has been stated that I am also president of A.A.R.P. in The District of Columbia, and in this capacity I have recently signed over 5,000 letters which were mailed to A.A.R.P. members asking and urging them to join up with Experience Corps. In the past, some A.A.R.P. members have signed up with AmeriCorps and others as members who provide traditional volunteerism. There are stipends which make it possible for some people to cover the otherwise unaffordable expenses of transportation, lunch and appropriate clothes because they are on a fixed income.
A.A.R.P. knows how valuable this wonderful volunteer experience is to the older adult as well as the child. Volunteering has proven to be benefits to physical and mental health for many elderly people. A.A.R.P. [CEO] Bill Novelli has publicly endorsed Experience Corps and many of our other A.A.R.P. state offices are also providing support, just as we are doing. We believe, as President Bush has stated, and as he has said, that it is important for us to have volunteerism in our society, and let me add that it is important for us to focus on services that support our society, services that give people to give back to our communities as we have for our motto in A.A.R.P. we are there to provide service and not to be served, and in this spirit I believe AmeriCorps is really a truly wonderful support for our whole society and for the efforts and goals that we have established for children as well as adults. So I urge Congress that they will listen and take note of how well this organization has functioned and really provide additional support so that we can continue. Thank you very much.
Unidentified Moderator (John Gomperts??):
Thank you, Ms. Thomas, that was very very good, very helpful. I want to comment now on a former colleague of mine and some of the rest of ours, Tom Andres (sp?), who was once upon a time the director of Senior Corps at The Corporation for National Service -- what we now call The Corporation for National and Community Service -- and is now directing a fantastic project at The National Coalition on Aging about how we engage more older Americans in acts of civic action. Tom was there at the creation of Experience Corps, provided vital assistance at a couple of key moments and has long remained a friend and supporter of Experience Corps and from our time together, I should say at The Corporation, was one who was constantly thinking about how we could bring together the idea of older Americans in service, as you've heard about so much, and the program that we know as AmeriCorps. Experience Corps is today the largest program that is an expression of those ideas and we hope that there will be many, many more in the future once we get by this funding problem that we have today that we are all working so hard to get Congress to resolve. Tom?
Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here. I do remember back about 11 years ago really when we began thinking about we increase the number of opportunities for older adults to serve their communities, and it was back when The Corporation for National Service was created, and AmeriCorps was established, that Congress began to join us in looking at the future and gave Senior Corps the opportunity to demonstrate some innovations and new models of approaching senior service. It was with the first million dollars that Congress gave the corporation in that demonstration line item that allowed us to begin the Experience Corps. Today you've heard the testimony of the results, of what has transpired since the Experience Corps project program was demonstrated, piloted, proven successful, expanded, improved, refined and having the kinds of results and outcomes that you've heard about today.
What I would like to do is have us imagine what Experience Corps or AmeriCorps' Experience Corps might look like in the future, because it's not only children in schools that have needs that are unmet in our society today. We can think of the Experience Corps model working in the areas of day care. We can think of the AmeriCorps Experience Corps model working in the area of elder care. You can think of AmeriCorps' Experience Corps model applying itself or being applied to almost any social issue that this country faces today, and I would submit that given that this absolute success of the model as evidenced by its success in the schools, that over the same period of time a different group of people would be sitting here attesting to AmeriCorps's Experience Corps success in the areas of child care, day care, elder care, and many other issues and social needs. We cannot go back. We must go forward, and just as Congress, back in 1992 saw in its wisdom to put some demonstration capacity into the area of senior service, which has brought us to where we are today, we have to look at what is coming down the road.
In the next 20 years, the population over 65 in this country as the baby boomers retire will double. There are certain facts that come with the demographic changes. More older Americans will be interested in being volunteers. They will be a more diverse group. They will be the best educated, the healthiest, the best trained, the most experienced group of retirees the world has ever seen, and just as the boomers have transformed every decade they have passed through, they will also -- as Marc Freedman in his book 'Primetime: How The Baby Boomers Will Redefine Retirement In America' has suggested -- they will also redefine what it means to grow older in this country. So in the next 20 years we're going to have available to us a resource, the power of which and the potential of which we have only begun to imagine.
At the same time, we have a difficulty, and the difficulty is that America's older adult population is changing rapidly. However, community organizations are not keeping pace by creating the kind of opportunities that are necessary to challenge coming generations of retirees to continue to become involved, to stay involved, to get connected to their communities. So what exists must continue to be reinforced and Experience Corps must be allowed to grow. It is Experience Corps that provides the glue in many community organizations that allows those community organizations to fulfill their missions and their purpose and meet the critical needs that they are incorporated to do. So Experience Corps is the reinforcer and the resource, the asset, that allows community organizations to tap into the tremendous potential of our older adult population.
The National Council on Aging is committed to the health, the independence and the contributions of older people in our society. We are committed to the issue of civic engagement, and as John indicated, are now conducting a number of innovative programs that will provide more information that will help us tap this resource. But Experience Corps, AmeriCorps' Experience Corps is an absolutely essential resource. We cannot back away from it, we have to expand it. We cannot afford to not have the volunteers who are contributing today, doing the work that you heard about today, not allowed to continue that opportunity. And, as we've also heard, there are many schools in D.C. that need AmeriCorps members. There are more schools in Philadelphia that need AmeriCorps members, and in addition to the 12 cities and communities in which they serve today, there are tens of thousands of places that AmeriCorps' Experience Corps assets are needed. Thank you.
Unidentified Moderator (John Gomperts?):
Thanks, Tom. We're very lucky to have Tom with us, who is one of the pioneers in this area, but also lucky to have Donna Butts with us this evening. We're unlucky that we're going a little slower than we should, so I have to hang the six up here as we've moved into the sixth hour of this marathon. Donna Butts is the president of Generations United, which is the leading organization that works on ways to bring together people across the generations for the common good. She's a pioneer in this field and an articulate spokesperson for these issues. Donna?
Donna Butts, Executive Director, Generations United:
Thank you, John. I'd like to start by just varying slightly from my prepared testimony. I was going to start by saying good afternoon and instead I'd like to say good evening and also that for some of this may have been the best thing to happen, we may have missed our daily thunderstorm by being here together. It's an honor and John thank you, Elizabeth thank you for this opportunity.
I am Donna Butts, I am the Executive Director of Generations United. I'd like to thank you all for being here for the opportunity to testify about a vital, important, inter-generational program that makes a difference in communities everyday, and that's AmeriCorps. Generations United represents over 100 of the country's leading children, youth and senior organizations whose members total more than 70 million Americans. Our mission is to improve the lives of children, youth and older people through inter-generational collaboration, public policies and programs. We're the only inter-generational membership organization that seeks to bring young and old together in service to each other and to their communities. We believe the strength of our country rests in it's book end generations, our younger and older citizens. They're not simply yesterday's or tomorrow's leaders but are prepared to serve our country today. This is important, given the change in demographics which you've heard a little bit about this afternoon. We've managed to increase lifespan as well as health span, but I think Ellie Guggenheim said it best when she kicked off The Year of the Older Persons at the U.N. She was a woman in her 80's who said "I have a great interest and a growing interest in this whole thing of senior citizens. I have a son who is about to become one."
Indeed people are living longer, they are living in multiple generations, and at the same time volunteerism among high schools students as at a 50 year all-time high. Unfortunately, the opportunities and programs haven't kept pace with this incredible growth. This is why promoting volunteerism through The Corporation For National And Community Service Programs such as AmeriCorps is one of Generations United and our members' top priorities. AmeriCorps is an important vehicle, allowing volunteers of all ages to show their patriotism by engaging in civic service and giving to their country. AmeriCorps programs across the U.S. tap the experience of older people, the energy and idealism of young people -- many of whom you've heard from today -- and the skills of people of all ages to help others improve their communities. AmeriCorps programs promote innovative public-private partnerships and often encourage inter-generational relationships such as those that organize neighborhood-wide community service projects or coordinating mentoring or tutoring programs.
For example, in Douglas Country, Oregon, for the past five years older adults have volunteered their time to read aloud to elementary school children one to one. These at-risk children develop a consistent relationship with an adult who models the importance of strong literacy skills and provides a positive presence in their lives. They thrive with the help of a committed AmeriCorps volunteer. In an economically distressed area that is full of hope but short on opportunity, AmeriCorps bridges the gap and fills a critical void in the lives of children, families and older people. We at Generations United urge Congress to show support for valuable AmeriCorps programs like this. They tap the rich skills of one of America's only growing resources, older adults. Generations United strongly recommends that Congress commits the 100 million dollars AmeriCorps needs now to stop programs from closing today. Rather than cutting funding and causing these valuable programs to shut their doors to community needs, Congress should also support President Bush's call for increasing AmeriCorps volunteers to 75,000 members.
It's time to wake up and smell the demographics. Our country and our world are aging. It's an amazing time. AmeriCorps has the potential to play an even more important role as our country responds to this incredible opportunity. In closing, I'd like to quote one of my favorite musicians. When asked at the age of 94 how he could keep such a busy schedule mentoring younger performers and continuing to perform and record, he replied "I can't get tired, I'm still needed." I can't get tired, I'm still needed. Whether it's 94 or 24, AmeriCorps is a key program to engage Americans in community and national service. It deserves all of our strong support. Thank you.
Donna, who is that musician?
Butts:(Inaudible) Segundo from the Buena Vista Social Club.
Unidentified Moderator (John Gomperts?):
Alright, very good, very good. Thank you very much. We're almost done and I know we have some people who are waiting and I apologize and we're trying to wrap this up. We have two more speakers. Frank Arkwright (sp?) is a former AmeriCorps member who has now joined the staff of the Washington, D.C. Experience Corps, and he can offer us some of his reflections on that as our friend from Philadelphia did. Frank?
Frank Arkwright, Site Coordinator/AmeriCorps Alumni, Experience Corps:
Good afternoon. I'm a volunteer. My name is Frank Arkwright. I live in Washington, D.C. and I came to Experience Corps about a year ago, so this is only my second year in actually working in Experience Corps. I retired from my job as a graphics designer in 2001 and as most people do when they retire, they look forward to the sunny days at the beach or under a palm tree or whatever, and I looked forward to playing golf two or three times a week. However, I felt that I should be doing a little bit more. Playing golf was good, but it was not enough. I happened to be listening to a radio show and someone mentioned Experience Corps and it sounds interesting, but I actually didn't go with it right then and so about a week later I talked to a counselor over at the D.C. Office on Aging, and he told me about the program that it's a good way to get into doing some civic duties and it was something that I should look into. Well, I looked for an avenue that I wanted to do more in the social area. All my life I had been involved with colors and shapes and that sort of thing. I wanted to become involved with people and I wanted to become involved in the community. So I checked it out, I went to Experience Corps and I became a member. That was great. Experience Corps was very supportive of people in my age group who wanted to give something back to the community.
After completing a training session as an Experience Corps member, I was assigned to Anthony Bowen Elementary School, along with several other volunteers who were either tutors or classroom assistants. Now I was also a classroom assistant as well as a tutor. That meant that I had to put in 15 hours each week, and one of those hours was spent with one child once a week, tutoring. The classroom experience, assistance, was done under the guidance of the regular teacher. She would set up the lesson plans and she would give out the assignments, and actually my job was to help students who could not grasp what was going on in the classroom, students who needed additional help. So it was actually a tutoring phase in the classroom, because on occasion I would pull several kids out to one side and we would form a group and we would hammer out the problems that they could not understand about the assignment that the teacher had given them.
This was one part of my job. The other part of my job was tutoring one child per week for one hour, and most of these children -- now this is the classroom child as well as the one child that I tutored -- were from the area that was located around the school. This was a neighborhood that has people who were in housing areas that were not conducive to some of the more (Inaudible) ideas of what was going on in the community. These kids were from dwellings that had a lot of crime, they were from homes that more often than not was a single parent home, and they did not have all of the amenities that many of us have come to appreciate. So the volunteers at that school, in fact, I was one of the classroom teachers out of six. We had about 16 people who were tutors only, but all of the classroom teachers also tutored, so actually at the school we provided about 20 tutors per week to that particular school. The tutors were made up of people from different walks of life. People who were of different ethnic backgrounds than the kids in the community, so not only were they exposed to people with a multitude of different kinds of knowledge, but they were exposed to people from different walks of life, different nationalities, and they learned just from having that factor there that these people were from other neighborhoods, that they were not people that they saw or came in contact with every day. So that was one part of the equation, and the second was, well, the fact, most of the children that we tutored and assisted were third graders. There were some second graders but mostly third graders and if you've been around third graders you know how volatile they can be, but it certainly was a great and a challenging experience. Specifically the child I was tutoring, his name was Calvin, was assigned to the third grade but he actually did not read on the third grade level. What he did, we -- when we first got together with our session -- I asked him what book would you like to learn how to read? He gave me the name of a book, so I went out the next day and I bought the book, and when I came back to the tutoring session I gave it to him and I asked him if he wanted to learn how to read it, and he says "yes, this is the correct book." So he proceeded to read the book very well, and I was surprised, and I only bought one book so I didn't actually follow him word for word, but he seemed to have the gist of the story down and everything was going well and he got into a word, he repeated a word that I didn't understand, I felt it was out of context, so I asked him to let me see the word and I looked at it and the word that he was trying to pronounce had no sameness to the actual correct pronunciation of the word. What he had done was to, he wanted to impress me that he knew how to read, so he had me get a book that he was already familiar with, that he had known, he had heard read several times, so he knew the book from memory.
So that was the way I found that he could not read on grade level, so I realized the amount of work we had to do. We had to start from the very beginning, even recognizing and constructing the alphabet and pronunciation. I was really happy to find out by June, this -- we started in October -- and by June his teacher told me that he had improved, that his confidence had improved, that he did not have to go around and pretend that he knew how to read when he didn't, and this was a very rewarding part of my experience working with Experience Corps, and I'm looking forward to continuing with Experience Corps in the future. I will be a team leader next year at a different school and I will be working with other tutors and classroom assistants and they will be sharing the experience that I had this past year. We hope that by doing this we can improve the test scores of kids in some of the elementary schools of the District of Columbia. Most people, as I did, don't get into this -- to tutoring and classroom volunteering -- because we want to be rich. We do it because we want to serve and we want to help, and the federal government, we want them to continue to support the program because many of us, many people would not be able to volunteer if they didn't get some stipend or some support. I just say that the best thing about the program is the feeling of at the end of the year when you have helped a child and they realize that you have, that parents realize that you have, and they thank you, that's the reward.
Unidentified Moderator (John Gomperts??):
Thanks, Frank. Thank you very much. We want to close this Experience Corps hour -- quote unquote hour, I apologize for that -- with Virginia Williams, who is a civic activist here in Washington. I'm told she is a spectacular singer. She is a member of the advisory board of Experience Corps right here in Washington, D.C. and she is the mother of our mayor. Mrs. Williams?
You stole my speech.
I hope not.
Virginia Williams, Advisory Council Member, Experience Corps/Washington, DC:
Good evening. It's an honor to be here to speak to you. This is the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech. One of the major components of his speech was an education for every American child, regardless of race, color or creed, and as he has said, I am Virginia (Inaudible) William's mother, the mayor of this great city. This is our nation's capitol, and for that reason I feel that we should be an example to the world of what we are not only doing but what we are capable of doing to make life better for all of our citizens, from one to 100, from birth to 100.
I am a very concerned citizen who is here today to plead with Congress to pass the one million dollar emergency funding bill for AmeriCorps. As a hands-on community activist, I can tell you AmeriCorps's representation in every area of this city is making positive impacts where poor children, youths and neglected American citizens live. I am here also today to represent the three organizations that I have helped introduce into this city, who are benefited by AmeriCorps. First, Experience Corps is one of the much needed and better programs introduced into this city. As a founding member of this organization and also a member of the advisory board of Experience Corps in D.C., I realize how valuable AmeriCorps has been in the growth of Experience Corps. You see, we have to make a play on words with this AmeriCorps and Experience Corps, but they are two distinct and separate organizations that working together has really made a difference. I'm not going to give you any statistics, because we have had competent, capable people give you those. I'm coming from the heart, because I have been here in this city and I have met with the people in this city, those who have been neglected and denied. I am a member, non-voting, of the D.C. Commission on National and Community Service. Third, I am a loyal American citizen deeply concerned about our poor children, their future, and the education they receive.
I am also a mother of nine children who all graduated from colleges with Masters and Ph.D.'s except two. I know children can be educated in the inner-city. My children grew up in the inner-city of Los Angeles. It has been five years since I came to Washington D.C. to campaign for my son, Mayor Anthony A. Williams. My heart was broken when I witnessed the plight of far too many Americans in their nation's capitol. I remained here in D.C. to help wherever I could and to be a voice for the voiceless. My absolute concern for our citizens' well-being has taken me into every part of this city and that includes many visits to most of our elementary schools. I have especially enjoyed interacting with the children as a school volunteer, reading, singing, speaking, as well as having in-depth interactions with all ages. My experience tells me that poor children all over the District of Columbia need exactly what all children everywhere need. Not just occasionally, but every day. To fill their young minds with caring thoughts and positive images and confidence in their own ability to learn to read and relate.
Experience Corps and AmeriCorps work well together. Experience Corps is a structured program with good manuals and excellent training for both tutoring and mentoring. The members are required to have measurable goals for their work with children. The AmeriCorps team of members assigned to Experience Corps keep things running smoothly. Without AmeriCorps fewer children would get the one on one attention they need. Without AmeriCorps, many American children would again, here in our nation's capitol, be put at risk of failing. Washington D.C. is blessed to have many more than 100,000 Americans who are aged 55 years or older. Retirees can be a huge asset to our city when we create the structures for them to give back. Experience Corps does this and the retirees receive more personal satisfaction, having been given the opportunity to serve.
I know first hand the joys of feeling useful after retirement. I am 77 years old and I had retired very early and I also know how aches and pains and ills diminish when you are busy or just knowing someone is counting on you. I do believe AmeriCorps should consider having more chronologically gifted older Americans. We are chronologically gifted. The older volunteers have knowledge of so many life skills plus so much kindness and love for inter-generational sharing, which has proven to be beneficial to children as well as seniors. The impact of an older AmeriCorps member can be especially profound. Experience Corps needs it's alliance with AmeriCorps to provide much needed stipends for a few of its members. This small stipend allows many youths and seniors not only an opportunity to share themselves with children but also to retain a measure of dignity for themselves.
I pray that Congress will not deny our children further access to Experience Corps by allowing AmeriCorps cuts to go through. Please pass the 1 million dollar emergency funding. Please, Congress, know that many causes will fail without much needed financial assistance. I plead with, I please for AmeriCorps, Experience Corps, D.C. Commission On The Community Services and the many Americans living in the D.C. area who are dependent on the continued success of these programs for education for young and old. As a matter of fact, I will conclude, Congress -- instead of thinking of cutting funds -- Congress, please add more funds because hope is dying for so many young people who are dependent on you.
Unidentified Moderator (John Gomperts??):
Thank you, Mrs. Williams, that was a wonderful way to end this session. We're depending on you. It's hard to know how anyone could listen to and hear what we've heard all afternoon and not think that this is a good thing for America and Americans, so that's why it's so confusing in some respects that Congress has not been more supportive of AmeriCorps and why it is so important that this event, these voices of AmeriCorps are heard in the halls of Congress, because we believe strongly that if you hear these stories and you hear these pleas, you must respond. Thank you. I'm sorry that we've run a little over. Thank you Charlie and thank you to everyone.
Charlie Rose, Moderator:
Let's hear it for Experience Corps. I'd like to ask everybody in the room to come up into the audience section while I turn it over to the Student Conservation Association, one of the critical organizations that's part of the Save AmeriCorps Coalition. I want to turn it over to Kevin Hamilton right now, who is going to lead this section, and I want to personally apologize for the time delay, but we're getting there. Kevin.
Kevin Hamilton, The Student Conservation Association:
Charlie, thank you. Good evening everybody and thank you very much for being here. SCA, The Student Conservation Association, is delighted to lend our voices to the chorus in support of AmeriCorps today, and while we would rather be here under different circumstances, quite frankly, it's still somehow fitting that the day after Labor Day, where we recognize the American workforce and how they drive this country and how they drive our economy, we are here today recognizing those who serve and drive this country through their service. So after Labor Day it is service day, because that is basically what you've heard thus far today, and what you will be hearing for the rest of this week as the hundred hours of testimony continues.
The Student Conservation Association has been a partner of AmeriCorps for the past ten years. We are a 47 year-old conservation service organization and today we have a variety of speakers who are joining us, from our founder to many members who are still in the field, but I would like to start with Rabbi Jack Moline. When we put word out within our organization that we have this opportunity to testify on behalf of national service and AmeriCorps, we put word out through all of our staff and said who can speak and who can bring the perspective to champion national service beyond those that we have internally? We have a regional office here in the capitol region in Washington, D.C., and immediately Rabbi Jack's name came up. He is the Rabbi of (Inaudible) Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia, he is the Vice Chair of the Interfaith Alliance, and he has served as a volunteer member of the board at a variety of service organizations and inter-faith groups and he is also an active advocate for social justice. Rabbi Moline.
Rabbi Jack Moline, Vice-Chair At-Large, Interfaith Alliance:
Good evening, friends of AmeriCorps, my name is Jack Moline. I am the Rabbi of (Inaudible) Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia and I serve as Vice Chair of the Interfaith Alliance, which is a coalition of leadership from the many and diverse faith communities across this country. I am here today to speak with you in each of those capacities. I was invited to speak to you from a faith-based perspective, and it seems to me that there is no greater faith-based perspective than the faith in America that has drawn over 350,000 Americans from every walk of life to devote their time and energy to make the blessings of this society more accessible to more people. Some came because they heard God calling to serve those in need. Some came because they heard America calling, just as it called their forbearers to this shore. Some came because they heard a friend or a mentor calling on the telephone to share the excitement of making a difference in peoples' lives.
As a Rabbi, as someone whose life is devoted to accompanying people in their quest for meaning, I cannot imagine a better way to travel a portion of that lifelong road. Some Americans devote a part of their life to foreign service, representing our interests to other countries and other cultures. Some devote a part of their lives to military service, defending the interests and principles of our country against those who would destroy them. Some devote a part of their lives to public service, as civil servants and elected officials, enabling our country to run it's infrastructure for the benefit of all it's citizens. That devotion, that offering of time and effort, is the tangible expression of the values that each person holds sacred. It is faith in action. Some Americans are willing to devote a part of their lives to national service, preserving our environmental resources, teaching our children, repairing our neighborhoods and feeding the hungry. My goodness, if foreign service, military service and public service are worth the recognition from a grateful nation, then national service is, too. If Senators and Representatives who allocate public monies will fund diplomats, soldiers and civil servants, then they should feel equally privileged and obligated to fund conservationists, educators and technicians. As Vice Chair of the Interfaith Alliance, I find myself equally concerned that AmeriCorps and it's critical work not be exploited by those who would legalize discrimination in hiring and funding.
There are so many places in our society that are divided by the labels we give to ourselves and others. AmeriCorps workers reach across those divides and work together to build the society envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, Walt Whitman, Emma Lazarus and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and every President of the United States. A place of equal opportunity and mutual responsibility, where people are judged not by the color of their skin, not by their place of worship, not by any aspect of their orientation, but by the content of their character. Well the character of this President, of these Senators, of these members of Congress will be judged on the tangible expression of the values they each hold sacred, and that means that I expect that with no strings attached, we will see a restoration of full funding for AmeriCorps. I thank you.
Thank you Rabbi, very much. We're also pleased to have with us here today a former member of our Board of Directors. We actually have several current members and you'll be hearing from them very shortly, but we'd like to bring somebody back into the fold if just for the evening, although I somehow doubt that he ever really left. Please welcome Paul Stevens of the law firm Dechert, Prices & Rhoades.
Paul Stevens, Dechert Prices & Rhoades:
Thank you very much. I'm grateful to the SCA and to the organizers of Voice for AmeriCorps for this opportunity to express my views. I'm here because I strongly support public and private initiatives that are designed to promote a culture of service to the nation, and to the community, a culture of individual responsibility and of good citizenship. I believe this is an essential foundation for America's security and prosperity today and it will be in the future as it has been throughout all of our history.
The Roman poet Ovid observed that nations are changed by time. They flourish and they decay. If we are to flourish, we must preserve that culture of service and citizenship. We must do what we can to enlarge upon it and we must transmit it to all young Americans. We can be thankful, then, that this generation of Americans -- that for this generation -- the call to service is so compelling and so powerful. I believe it was instinctive in our national response to the terrorist attacks on September 11th. It is instinctive in the generous responses of millions of individual Americans to the needs of their neighbors in communities here at home and to the often desperate plight of our brothers and sisters in other nations. Like President Bush, therefore, I believe in AmeriCorps and I believe in the good work it has done and continues to do across the United States. For this reason, I am proud to add my voice to those of many other citizens who are urging Congress to act promptly to approve supplemental funding needed to sustain AmeriCorps. The nation's ten year experience with this program offers many lessons. No doubt some of the lessons go to the need for effective management and the observance of sound accounting guidelines. Congress and the administration have, as they should, paid close attention to improving the way AmeriCorps is run. With new leaders heading The Corporation For National And Community Service, and implementing needed reforms, the problems hopefully will be addressed.
These problems should not, however, obscure the significance and continued value of the AmeriCorps program. Indeed, in his 2002 State of the Union address, the President recognized what our local and state leaders already knew: community needs are growing. Volunteer resources, including AmeriCorps, play an essential role in helping to meet these needs, and the federal government has an important, indeed indispensable role to play in mobilizing these resources. On this basis, the President very wisely, in my judgment, proposed to enlarge AmeriCorps by 50% to 75,000 participants. Now The Student Conservation Association, with whom I've had a long personal history of which I'm quite proud, was a partner of AmeriCorps at its inception and in all the years since. All of the SCA family is proud of the services provided to communities and public lands by the thousands of AmeriCorps members that have been placed by SCA, and we know first hand the consequences of the shortfall in funding that faces AmeriCorps, including the closure of SCA programs that will impact so many communities, students and parks.
SCA is, of course, only one among very many AmeriCorps partners that will feel this impact. The 100 million in emergency funding that AmeriCorps needs is negligible in the context of the federal budget, but it bulks far larger in the measure of the services of tens of thousands of young people that will be lost and the thousands of communities and organizations whose needs will go unmet without these funds. For all these reasons, I urge the Congress and in particular my fellow Republicans who lead the House of Representatives, to move to approve as soon as possible the supplemental funding required for AmeriCorps. Again, I appreciate the opportunity to express my views, and I particularly want to recognize and congratulate the many others here from SCA for their time and concern about this important issue. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Paul. David Fitch is not a member of our board of directors, but his wife is. That's not, however, why he is here today. David and Cindy have been long champions of national service, long friends of The Student Conservation Association and have known for some time that if we are going to keep our precious public lands and natural resources intact, it is going to take at least some work from each and every one of us. It is a privilege to introduce you now to David Fitch.
David Fitch, Chief Investment Officer, Gables Residential:
I'm also a father of two alums from this summer, and it's a great pleasure to be here. What is at the core of the American spirit? Serving the greater good, national service. Who needs to learn this experience more than ever before? That's America's youth. And how does America's youth get the chance to participate in the spirit of volunteerism and national service? The same way that over 350,000 Americans have participated over the past ten years, and that is through AmeriCorps-sponsored programs. It is absolutely undeniable the value added to our lives and society when the energy of young Americans is applied to help improve our public and urban resources. Thanks to AmeriCorps, The Student Conservation Association, they have been able to bring a wonderful new world to many Americans in the city, in the community, in our nation's cherished National Parks. In turn, the effect of this action, this experience of selflessness and giving to the greater good has on the lives of the givers of all of this -- and that's America's youth -- it's incalculable.
Thousands of potential benefactors, the young people of this country, will be denied this experience, this opportunity, if the funding of this vital AmeriCorps program is not immediately and fully implemented. What a great dynamic it is for Congress to implement funding that has leverage, has the best leverage that they can bring for all of us taxpayers, to invest in America's youth? It would be a tragedy to lose the momentum established by President Bush in the State of the Union address in 2002 and fueled by AmeriCorps-sponsored programs towards service in this country. Where should you concentrate your actions? Your actions should be concentrated towards building for the future, and that future is in your hands. Please restore AmeriCorps resources. This country needs your leadership and good judgment now. Thank you to all for participating and organizing for Voices for AmeriCorps. Your leadership is exceptional, and good luck to all of you. Thank you.
We've heard earlier today from a number of young people. We've been talking all day long about young people and the power that they give this nation, the will that they bring to their service, and it was 47 years ago that another young person had a great idea and was determined to follow it through and determined to make it happen and that's why we are sitting here and standing here before you this evening, because this particular woman founded The Student Conservation Association. Fresh out of college, had a great idea, turned it into her senior thesis, and that wasn't enough for her. She wanted to take that idea and turn it into reality, turn it into something that would really make a difference. To take that concept, to put it on the land, to put it within the hearts and souls of young people across America and just to see what kind of a difference they could make, and as I said 47 years later that difference is pretty damned clear. Would you please welcome Elizabeth Titus Putnam, the founder of The Student Conservation Association.
Elizabeth C. Titus Putnam, Founding President, The Student Conservation Association:
Thank you, I am definitely honored to be here to be with you all on this incredible time, but to me it is an opportunity. Yes, there are incredible challenges that are facing all of us, SCA and all of these organizations that we've been hearing about, and the individuals, but it is an opportunity that we have. I think many of these organizations and peoples are working together because there is a common challenge. AmeriCorps is in serious trouble, but by working together the extra power is going to be there and then it's an opportunity, because you never know where AmeriCorps is going to go. So don't get discouraged, that's the important message to get out of all of this, don't be discouraged. This is, we're going to make it into a positive affair, and that can be by our own attitude. I grew up in a family in which my parents strongly believed in service and volunteerism. They were active participants in both. It was part of life, like breathing, and I knew if there was a national need or a community need or anything, my parents would be there. Thus, with this parents' philosophy and example of service ethics volunteerism, that provided a seedbed from which eventually sprung SCA, this organization dedicated as you've heard to serving this country through voluntary service.
SCA's basic aim is to change lives through service to nature. Opportunities are provided to young people, high school age through college and graduate level, to volunteer service on public lands. The members do needed work which otherwise could not be done, while at the same time benefiting from these worthwhile experiences, that's that two-way street. Very important. There are now some 40,000 alumni from all walks of life who have participated in this program doing much needed work on the public lands, and it is exciting to see and hear about these young peoples' life-changing experiences, as well as see the results of their work. Since it started in 1994, AmeriCorps as we know has placed more than 350,000 Americans, young people, all ages, who have served countless hours in our communities, doing such essential work, helping schools, parks, health care, public safety, environmental protection and disaster relief. The value of their work is also undisputed. Governors, mayors, civic leaders throughout the country have concurred that this national service program is essential, as it has made vital, positive differences in their communities. Furthermore, the value to the young people themselves is incalculable. A true win-win situation. Besides the intangible value of giving service, the educational stipend at the end of the program awarded to each member makes possible further educational opportunities which otherwise might not be obtained.
To give of oneself, to be of service is one of the greatest gifts. To do something worthwhile with one's life and learn it at an early age, the value of service, is invaluable. It is a concept and a passion that will stay with a person for the rest of their life. There is so much work that needs to be done in our country today, much of it cannot be done without volunteers. The young are eager to help. They want and need that challenge. State, city, community, local officials are ready to provide those challenges, and to partner with the government, what could be a more powerful team? Our country's young people desperately need and obviously want the opportunities that AmeriCorps and national service have to offer. We are all aware that our country is hurting. Our communities, our schools, our hospitals, our parks are in dire need of help. There are thousands of our young who want to help, who want to be of service, who want to make a positive difference with their lives by helping others, by being of service. By the help that they give, they have a positive impact on the lives of untold numbers of others with whom they come in contact. Those experience they have, in many cases, are life changing.
It seems as though through the years some members of Congress have failed to understand and appreciate the value and benefit of protecting our resources, be they human or natural. For example, in 1953 because Congress woefully underfunded The National Parks Service, Bernard De Voto wrote in Harper's magazine of the critical conditions of our national parks, which were undermanned, rangers living under appalling conditions, the infrastructure of the parks deteriorating, while at the same time the American public were loving the parks to death. De Voto even suggested closing the parks, put the Army around them, until adequate funding would be provided. Amazingly, De Voto's powerful article became the seed which, when germinated, helped form the concept for the volunteer service-oriented SCA, which has been a partner with the National Park Service ever since.
That's why I say, when you think you've been clobbered you get opportunities, just make it into 'em. In the 70's some members of Congress attended to kill senator Henry Scoop Jackson's proposal for The Youth Conservation Corps, claiming that such a youth corps would never work. Their reasons included young people would never volunteer, only professionals could work on public lands anyway, and finally girls wouldn't, couldn't and shouldn't do that kind of work. The naysayers were wrong again. Today, some people in Congress obviously are trying to stop AmeriCorps, a program with a proven track record, not only in terms of its results for its members as well as for their partners and also for this country. Why are there such naysayers? Perhaps these naysayers have never visited an AmeriCorps program or witnessed the vital work that is being accomplished or met an AmeriCorps member, to hear how their experience has impacted their life.
AmeriCorps benefits all of us. If service, patriotism, education and self-fulfillment have any value, AmeriCorps is a linchpin. To you, Mr. President and members of Congress, who have the final decision for the future of this program, if you support and believe in this great country, if you believe that the young -- who are the future of this country -- should have the opportunity to be well-educated, if you are in favor of giving opportunities for citizens to help each other through service and volunteerism, if you think idealism, volunteerism, ethics and service are important elements for our young to learn and incorporate in their lives, if you believe in any of the above, then you Mr. President and members of Congress must support AmeriCorps and restore all of the funding necessary to have the program realize it's full potential. By cutting the number of education awards from 15,000 to 2,000 it will immediately and disastrously impact the number of young people who can serve this country. It particularly will make it more difficult for young people from middle to low income backgrounds to participate. Without the funding, hundreds of AmeriCorps programs will be closed or gutted. Thousands of communities, schools and non-profits will lose their AmeriCorps volunteers. Furthermore, tens of thousands of young people will be denied the opportunity to participate in national service.
Finally, many if not most of those who would have participated in this program will be denied critical financial help in obtaining their higher education. In response to rising levels of community need, President Bush, in your 2002 State of the Union address called for growing AmeriCorps from 50,000 to 75,000 members. Why then is this program being cut? With a sluggish economy and stressed governmental budget, America is even more reliant on volunteers. It appears that the benefit ratio is incredibly weighted in favor of AmeriCorps. Can anyone tell me what the cost-benefit is for cutting it? As we enter the 21st century, service and volunteerism is even more important as the centerpiece of citizenship. What an opportunity for Congress to grab this moment to acknowledge and celebrate the value of national service. This country desperately needs national service. AmeriCorps has proven its value. It must not be stopped. The positive value for this nation is far too important to let the momentum of this successful national program be scrapped, because everyone now and in the future would benefit from it's continuance. Thank you for letting me testify in support of this worthwhile program. Our nation and our youth vitally needs it.
DAY 1, DAY SESSION, 9/02/03
7PM - 8PM
We had alumni from SCA. That we have some of our board members. I'm not sure that I pointed out, some of the individuals here are sort of a combination thereof. Ed Bartlett is a member of our board of directors - in fact, a former chairman of our board, but also an alumnus of SCA -- and he noted a couple of years ago in looking back on his service 30 straight days of rain just outside of Seattle in Olympic National Park, but all these years later he is still mildewed to this day. Don't hold it against him. Ladies and gentlemen, Ed Barlett.
Ed Barlett, AmeriCorps Alumni, The Student Conservation Association:
I'm going to stick to the script, Kev. On behalf -- I'm speaking on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Student Conservation Association. We're a group of a little over 30 members from all across the country, and this a joint statement. So, the governing board of the Student Conservation Association has closely followed the AmeriCorps funding crisis over the last many months. From the pause in enrollment to the reduction in available AmeriCorps education awards and the canceling of funding for SCA residential AmeriCorps programs in New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts, we have seen our relationship with AmeriCorps be slowly, but effectively eliminated.
We find this development to be extremely troublesome for many reasons, none the least of which is that SCS has been a proud and successful partner of AmeriCorps since the national service program was founded ten years ago. In that time, SCA has placed nearly 6,000 AmeriCorps members in service to the land, and those members in turn have provided some 4.5 million hours of conservation service to their nation. The idea that similar collaborative efforts in the future are at risk and that thousand of eager young people may be denied the opportunity to engage in national service flies in the face of SCA's 46-year-old mission to build the conservation leaders of the future while protecting our land today. Just last week, SCA received word that AmeriCorps had denied our application for continuing education awards. These grants are designed to support the efforts of those young people who serve by helping them to retire student loans and help pay for future tuitions. Regrettably, many mid- to low-income students will now not be able to serve in our parks and forests helping to preserve our ecosystems and protect our wildlife. In addition to the now jeopardized conservation service that our members provide in the field, these same members have conducted extensive outreach programs working with local schools, youth groups, and other community organizations. They teach, mentor and collaborate as well as inspire, lead and enlighten, influencing hundreds of thousands of people each year. This ripple effect is one of the key dynamics of service, real people-to-people efforts. It has a profound and lasting impact on our culture and society by raising environmental awareness and promoting lifelong stewardship to the land.
As the country's leading conservation service organization, and despite the suspension of AmeriCorps's support, SCA still stands ready and able to continue the service it has provided to communities and public lands across our country since 1957. We will continue to offer our young people the opportunity to serve, to grow, and to make a difference. At the same time, we implore Congress and the White House to acknowledge the tremendous value that national service provides to our nation, the unnecessary suffering that our communities will bear without AmeriCorps volunteers, and the need to support a new generation of national and conservation leaders. We urge them to approve the $100,000,000 in AmeriCorps funding and enable young people across America to continue getting things done. Now, Kevin mentioned my alumnus status, so on a personal note, as an alum, I would like to finish with an old saying, which is, "If you give a person a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach that same person how to fish, you feed them for a lifetime." So, I think that AmeriCorps needs to teach more people and not less. Thank you.
Thank you, Ed. And no offense with these following remarks, but we are the Student Conservation Association. We do have young people as our memberships. And, this far you've seen some people on the other end of the spectrum, but that's because they need to go to bed a little bit earlier than the other younger people that we have. They are coming, and I've spoken with them, I have seen their testimony, I know the experiences that they've had, and they are compelling. And, you will want to hear their words in just a couple of moments. But first, one other members of our board of directors -- Paul McQuade, again, just personifies and epitomizes what the Student Conservation Association stands for. He is a conservationist professionally; he is a conservationist on his own time, and he's here with us tonight. Please welcome Paul McQuade.
Paul McQuade, Esquire, Greenberg Traurig:
Thank you. I was going to start out by telling you that I'm a partner in a 975-attorney law firm, and that with the demands of this being the last day in which you can put your time in for the month prior, that this is probably the most stressful day of the years. But, still, I was happy to come here and give testimony. I wanted to interrupt that thought by telling you what happened on the way here, which is a testimony to Enterprise Rent-A-Car as well. And, that when I was returning a car I had rented over the weekend, I had my notes out, and I was sort of scribbling some notes, and then somewhere along the line, something that had AmeriCorps on it was there. And a gentleman by the name of Damon at the counter said, "Oh, are your with AmeriCorps?" And I told him what I was doing this evening, and he started talking about it and telling me about this friends and what great experiences they had had. And when I looked around the office, and there is a lot a young people there, I would say maybe 20 years old that are working there, just the spirit of enthusiasm and such, and the fact that it was raining, and they sort of said, "Well, wait a second, we will give you ride." And so they drove me here. And, I thought that told me more than I can tell you about what the young people were thinking about the program and what it meant to them that they were going to sort of drop what they were doing at the moment and take some time out on their own to make sure I got here on time, something I'm not particularly good at doing. I should also say that because my firm represented the Bush campaign and the Florida battles in the Year 2000 that I have to qualify my remarks and keep them somewhat bipartisan and say that they are mine and not my firm's necessarily.
When I had first heard that the AmeriCorps program had its funding slashed, I took a quick poll by email among some lobbyists in our DC office as well as other folks that I know who lobby to find out what was going on, what was the true story with the program. And I learned a lot about the problems with management and accounting and some other things that I began to get a sense of some of the issues that were afloat in addition to the value of the program. And -- but there was one thing that really bothered me. I could understand how some people were unhappy and dissatisfied with some of the things in terms of the accounting mishaps that occurred, but the one thing that bothered me the most was a remark that somebody said, which was, "A lot of people here on Capitol Hill hate AmeriCorps." You know, they call it a volunteer program, but the students at the end of their tenure get an education stipend that costs several thousand dollars so they can go to school and get advanced degrees and stuff. And, if they were really volunteers, why don't they just do it for nothing. And that was reported to me to be the attitude of some folks here on the Hill concerning the program, and that illuminated such a misconception in my mind that that's what I wanted to speak to this evening, which is you know what do you get? "Do what for nothing?" I guess is the question - one question. And the answer to that is telling, and, in fact, when you answer the question "Do what for nothing, where does the money go, and what do you end up with?" you can only come to one conclusion, and that is that this emergency funding bill should be passed and added to.
In terms of the do-what-for-nothing question, we've heard testimony, and we are about to hear another 93 hours of it, about a whole host of programs both in cities and in rural communities in the national parks and forests in every imaginable and conceivable area of need where this program contributes. In terms of the specific experiences of SCA, what you end up with are you know improved trails, students who have training in fire prevention who go out and teach people in the western states where this is a real threat about what needs to be done, who go out into the field and measure fuels loads and help the forest service and the local fire people plan -- help the communities locally plan on how to avoid the disastrous consequences. That's just a small sliver. Their huge maintenance contributions in the different parks and forests in which SCA operates that could not - simply could not be accomplished if the government undertook to do the work - simply could not be accomplished for the money that is expended on it. The government doing it itself, I guarantee you, would be a multiple of what it actually costs.
So the delivery of the service, the bang for the buck, is definitely there. Where does the money go? It goes into some infrastructure for the program, safety training for the students, people on staff like Dr. Forgy (sp?) and other people who are noted experts in the field, either in conservation or in outdoor safety, things along those lines - teaching and equipping the next generation of people with all the requisite information, equipment, things along those lines that are allowing them to get the job done. And what do you end up with? You end up with a combination of things. You end up with an infrastructure that is capable of delivering meaningful, well-trained, well-intentioned young people on a repeated basis. You end up with people who have had the spark of citizenship, volunteerism - I don't know exactly what word to use to convey the notion of putting the shoulder to the wheel and collectively having a can-do attitude like "You know what? I've gotten together with peers of mine. We undertook projects. We got them done. We didnt know that we could do it when we started out, but by the end of it, not only did we know that we could do it, but we know that we could have fun doing, that we could interact with one another, and we could come away with the sense of perpetual desire to contribute." And, the value of that to a nation is inestimable, and as Liz had suggested, the costs of letting those same people lie fallow and not enjoy the benefits of that program is something that we do not want to incur, and we particularly dont want to incur it now. So, you end up with good citizens with work well done that is delivered at more than a beneficial price and with a generation of people that are not afraid to pitch in and do whats necessary to be done whether theyre getting paid for it or not. And, one last thing is, you end up with a populace that on occasion has a better level of education as a result of those educational stipends, and I would hope that thats something that Congress and the Administration will not turn their back on. Thank you.
Well, thanks. Thank you very much for being here tonight and for your comments. Rafael Gonzalez graduated a year or two ago with a degree in biology in environmental management. Hes here today as an SCA intern. Hes one of the young people that we put in the field. Hes one of the young people that is making a difference on the land, and hes one of the young people that will be in a position of conservation leadership in the years ahead. Its not all on your shoulders, Rafael, but were counting on you, nonetheless. Please welcome Rafael. Hell tell us a little about his experiences and also offering testimony submitted by another one, another member of the SCA board.
Rafael Gonzalez, The Student Conservation Association:
Good evening. My name is Rafael Gonzales, and I am an intern of the UFCS. I'm a member of the SCA, and I'm a member of the UFCS in Reston, Virginia. And, the FCS has offered me the opportunity to learn about the biological management. This internship has helped me to develop skills like team work and leadership. These skills are very important to me because they will help me to grow up and help me to develop my professional skills. I just want to thank SCA and AmeriCorps for giving me the opportunity to grow up with them.
And now, I'm going to read the testimony of Fred Prescott, a member of the SCA and also a member of the board of directors for DFC, and an avid outdoors interestedness. "Early this year, Congress drastically reduced funding for AmeriCorps. The tenure (sp?) of national program that unless John Burns use in a wide range of meaningful various (Inaudible). Many organizations that work with intercity youth, the homeless and fixed-income seniors are in danger of being gutted or eliminated. And (Inaudible) to the AmeriCorps cuts and effort to restore funding has focused on this undeniable. Not all AmeriCorpss members, however, serve in our communities. Many others give their times and effort far from public schools and local shelters. They serve in parks, in forests and along watersheds. They restore habitats, safeguard wildlife, and protect our natural and cultural resources. Even in the remote location in which many of these individuals serve, they may go days without seeing another human being.
Yet in conserving our environment, theyre service touches us all. It is important to realize that critical conservation service programs are also at risk if supplemental AmeriCorps funding is not approved. For example, the Student Conservation Association, better known as SCA, a nonprofit organization that places high-school and college-aged volunteers on public land in all 50 states and for whom I serve on its board of directors have been an effective AmeriCorpss partners for the past ten years. In the wake of budget reductions, AmeriCorps was forced to cease funding SCA programs. That over the past decade has resulted in nearly 950,000 hours of conservation service and outreach. SCA alone also was the countrys largest recipient of AmeriCorpss education award. These funds were distributed directly to volunteers for future situations or to help retire assisted college loans. That all changed recently when AmeriCorps notified SCA that its members, volunteers who perform more than 1,000,000 hours of conservation services will no longer receive educational grants.
The fact of the matter is for many middle- and low-income students elimination of the education that would push national service beyond their reach. At any time when land management budgets are shrinking, when maintenance backlog totals in the billions, and when pollution invades the fishes, and overuse is stressing our national resources like never before. Where else are we to find fresh, skilled and devoted stewards, our closest effective solutions? Additionally, its abundantly clear that by supporting the spirit of service within each emerging generation, we give our young people the opportunity to grow into healthy, contributing citizens and develop leadership skills they will use throughout their life. In more ways than one, our future is in their hands. Now is the time to pick up the fund. Write on email, or otherwise voice your support for AmeriCorps. Tell your elected representative that national service funding must be restored and that middle conservation programs must be (Inaudible)." Thank you.
Rafael, thank you very much. One of the great joys I have in my job, and I think I can speak for all of my professional colleagues at SCA, is that we get to meet people like Rafael on a daily basis people who are willing to step up, who are willing to cowboy up and take some of the responsibility for taking care of our planet. I'm about to introduce another one of them, Wayne Lasuen. And I met Wayne for the first time just over two years ago. Wayne was serving with an AmeriCorps program that we had run for, I think, five or six years at that point in concert with AmeriCorps out in the Adirondacks. And the reason that I was there to see him because ordinarily thats not sort of my beat is because a special event was coming up the next day, which happened to be Earth Day. There was a big politician coming to town who wanted to call attention to the need to protect our environment and salute those who stepped up and served for our environment. And I'm spacing on the fellows name, but I bet Wayne can fill us in on just who that individual was. Its a big name around here, as perhaps Wayne will be as well. Wayne
Wayne Lasuen, AmeriCorps Alumni, The Student Conservation Association:
Id like to thank all of you for being here tonight. This is an especially big moment for myself. Live Kevin said, my names Wayne Lasuen. I'm from Mountain Home, Idaho, population about 10,000. Here I am in big Washington, DC, for the first time. When I graduated high school in 1998, our school counselor gave us three options. She told us, "OK, you guys are about ready to graduate and start your new lives. Your first option, go to college. If you dont like that one, well, you can join the military; and if you dont like that one, well, get a job and go start working in the real world."
I wasnt ready for college, and I did not even want to even think about joining the military. So, I got a job. I was a night-time grocery manager, and I moved my way up into the big corporate ladder. After a few years, I started selling potato chips. I was making about $42,000. I made more than my parents had ever made in their lives, but I hated it. I knew that I could be doing something more with my life. So, I quit that job after two years, and I traveled the Northwest because our family had never traveled before. I had never even been on a vacation. I traveled the Northwest visiting family and friends. When I came back home, I was in this big rut. I had no job; I wasnt going to school; I was just hanging out late with friends and just up to no good, really. I needed a change, but I had nowhere to go, and AmeriCorps was that change for me to help me get out of the rut that I was in. I wasnt a criminal; I had never been arrested. I wasnt like this sad case. I was just a kid that was loused up in the society that I lived in. So, I signed up for this program called the Student Conservation Association, an AmeriCorps program in upstate New York in the Adirondacks. I had no clue what I was going to be doing. I had never camped, but my dad owned quite a bit of acreage in Mountain Home, Idaho, so I worked. When I came home that evening and I told my dad what I had done, because I signed up over the Internet, he flipped out. He was like, "Where are you going?" I said, "Well, upstate New York. It sounds great, Dad." And I started telling him about it, and he goes, "Now, hes never left Idaho in his life except when he won the one lottery, and that was the Vietnam draft." So, I told him that I was leaving, and he told me, "Well, two things are going to happen to you. Either youre going to get shot, or youre going to get mugged." And I was like, "But, Dad, they say its a real small town in New York." And he goes, "Well, Son, there is no small town in New York."
Well, I headed to New York with my dad upset at me, and I head up there. That experience for me was the best thing that I ever did. When I entered the town, Long Leg, New York, it was probably a population about 1,600 people. I sent my dad a postcard of the main drag I think it was a quarter of a mile. It was a ten-month program. Five months we did environmental education in public school teaching kids about the importance of the environment around them and in the world that we live in. The other five months, we worked with the DEC, the Department of Environmental Conservation. We did everything from trail maintenance to working with kids building new hiking trails behind their schools to restoring fire towers. And, yes, I did work with the man, President Bush. He came out, and he worked with us. I even got his autograph, and we had a big photo thing, and we got to hear him speak. It was really a great experience. There were 24 other members with me in this program. We were one big happy family. Not knowing it then, but we were a family for life.
The day our program ended was probably the hardest day that I've had in a while. They had a graduation for us, but it wasnt really a graduation. It was a rebirth for our new lives and our new adventures. Being that kid from rural Idaho, I was shy and scared. The Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps gave me wings to do whatever I wanted the confidence to take on anything. I've done trail work with President Bush; traveled most of the U.S. now. I've watched sunsets and sunrises all over the Adirondacks. Ive slept on top of mountains and helped kids learn the importance of the environment. I've seen things my family and the people in my town only dream about. I have goals no one can take from me. I took that education award that I received from AmeriCorps to reach my goals and just completed my first year of college.
School is very important these days. Without it, you struggle. I have watched my parents struggle struggle to make a marriage work, struggling to raise kids, struggling to make ends meet, and struggling to find a job in a depressed economy with a high-school diploma. AmeriCorps helps people with the struggle. No matter of age, race, gender, religion, political backgrounds, AmeriCorps is one. And with AmeriCorps one, America is one. Now, I thought about how to end this speech, and I had no clue. I always had one question that people always asked me when I return back to Idaho, and they always said, "Why in the world would you do that?" $50 a week, your housing and food was paid for, and you got $5,000. "For ten months? And you worked 40 hours a week? Thats ridiculous." Well, I listen to people now, back here as before I came here, and theyre saying, "We shouldnt have this; we shouldnt have it at all." My real thing is, I think theyre jealous that they did not have this program when they were growing up. I think that if they worked with any of our programs or any AmeriCorps programs around the country for one day or one week, they would see the importance of these programs.
Theres one person that I've met during my stay with SCA, and her names Rebecca Pike. Shes been a big influence to me and to other members in AmeriCorps and to SCA. Sometimes I wonder why she works so hard in what she does. And, I think I've figured it out. I was sitting at her desk yesterday preparing to come here, and I found this quote. She doesnt know I have it, I dont think, but I'm going to read it anyways. And, its by Terry, [Jerry] and Renny Russell, and its from a book called On The Loose. It says, "So why do we do it? What good is it? Does it teach you anything, like innovation, determination, foresight, hindsight, love, art, or music, strength or patience, or accuracy or quickness or tolerance, or which wood will burn, and how long is a day, and how far is a mile, and how delicious is water and smoky-green pea soup, and how to rely on ourselves." Well, the answer is yes to all of these. It did teach me a lot of things. It taught me about innovation, determination, hindsight, love of the art communities that we live in and the environment. It taught me all of these things, and it has made me a better person because of it. So, the only question left is, "Why do we do it." Well, I will tell you. Its because every day our program changes lives through the service to nature. And thank you.
Wayne quoted or slogan, "changing lives through service to nature." Weve heard all day long about the value of national service, and weve heard about great, great efforts by many, many young people across the country who are in communities working young people, working with seniors, and just doing that type of community service. But I do think theres something very unique about conservation service. And when you take a number of young people and send them off isolated into the woods, and they must form their own community, and everything that is familiar and everything that is convenient is left behind the cell phones and family and all of that and whatever needs to be accomplished is up to that band of individuals, they pull together and they really discover just what they are capable of as individuals and as a team. And, I think thats what you heard from Wayne. And thats what youre going to hear from our next several speakers as well. Kristin Panke is an SCA alumna, and she will be joined by Caroline Wolf, who is a current volunteer and a current AmeriCorps alumni and, I'm sure, one who would like to stay there because thats whats at stake. When people like Wayne come up, when people like Kirsten or Caroline come up, we are talking about the opportunities that they want to continue to pursue, and other young people just like them. Thats whats at stake. Thats why were here. Thats why we need the $100,000,000. Come one down. Thanks.
Hi. My name is Kristin Panke, and I'm from Arlington, Virginia. This past summer, I volunteered with an SCA crew for five weeks on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This is the most fun and rewarding experience that I've ever had. I made many great friends, saw some of the most breathtaking views our country has to offer, and felt the amazing sense of accomplishment that came along with the completion of our trail work. Through this program, I feel I really made a difference. It was such a great feeling to walk back over the trail on the last day and see what all of our sweat and energy had amounted to. There is no greater reward, however, than the thanks and encouragement that we got from the daily trail users. The transformation of our trail over the four weeks that we worked on it was truly incredible. It makes me feel so great that I've taken part of such a beneficial project. I felt that I personally grew in many ways that would never had been possible had I not volunteered through SCA. Physically, I felt that I was the strongest that Id ever been. Mentally, I felt that through living and working in nature, I became very in touch with myself and comfortable with who I am. I pushed myself to my limits, learned my strengths and weaknesses, and by doing so felt an amazing sense of satisfaction and pride in myself and my own capabilities. I am so grateful that I was able to have this opportunity and hope that it and others like it will be available in the future so that other young people can experience the feeling of fulfillment that comes from volunteering and can share similar rewarding experiences.
Hi. My name is Caroline Wolf, and I'm working with the National Park Services Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program. And, first, I just want to thank the Student Conservation Association for this opportunity. Its absolutely life changing for me, and its open up doors I never could have imagined. I'm having a very different experience from Wayne and Kristen, working in the national headquarters of the National Park Service. Weve dealt with a lot of political issues this summer, a lot of funding issues this summer, and its been fascinating to watch this process a little frustrating to watch this process but its nevertheless very educational. A little bit about me I'm interested in landscape architecture and am hoping to go for my masters degree in that in the next several years. And, I'm working on a project that is involving engineers, landscape architects, biologists, hydrologists from all around the country. I had absolutely no idea when I entered this internship that I would be pretty much in charge of this project. And I'm flying out to Denver in two weeks for my first business trip. And I really feel that this is the beginning of my life. I'm 27 years old. I did AmeriCorps in Tucson, Arizona, right out of college, and that also was a huge learning experience for me, so I'm very grateful.
And just one thing about time I just wanted to make a comment about the timing of these decisions that have to be made on Congress. I think time is of the essence more than ever. Time is all we have. And in terms of the environment and the connection between young people and the environment, this is the time to invest in all of our futures and the future of the Earth. And given the difficult state of the economy, its easy to lose perspective and to panic and to think, "Where can we get money, and where can we cut current programs." But to cut AmeriCorps funding and to discourage that connection between students and learning about the environment is detrimental. One example of that, my older brother, who actually did the Student Conservation Association in Virginia several years ago, is now working in Gabon, West Africa, teaching environmental education. And Gabon has just set aside their first lands to be national parks, and its an incredibly exciting time to be over there. And speaking of timing, if he had not had his opportunity with SCA and been able to pursue his education through AmeriCorps, he would not be over there working on this project. So, I urge Congress to make a wise decision and not lose perspective. And, I really cant see that this is worth cutting. Thank you very much.
It should come as no surprise by now that we all know we live in a wired world. You can log on to saveamericorp.org and sign a petition in favor of the $100,000,000 to support national service and AmeriCorps. And when word got out that this event was going to take place and that organizations that AmeriCorps partners were being asked to contribute to these 100 hours of testimony, we put word out that the Student Conservation Association out over the Internet and out through a variety of different email avenues to our alumni, and said, "If you believe in national service, if you are in fact one of our AmeriCorps alumni, if you have received an education award in the past from AmeriCorps, if that made the difference in your life, it that allowed you to serve, if that allowed you to pursue your education, then now is the time to speak up. Now is the time to get out there and champion and advocate for AmeriCorps." And, like many other AmeriCorps partners who made the same plea to their membership, we were inundated with a response. I'm here to read some of the testimony that was submitted to us via the electronic sources. We have a number of our alumni, and Id like to bring them up now. Kristen I'm sorry, we just had Kristen. (short pause) Who do we have at this point? I'm sorry thats right. Yes, OK, gotcha. We have Christina Harview, Rafael Gonzales coming back, and Kerry Donovan. Forgive me for the lame intro, but please welcome all and their testimony.
Hi, my name is Christina Harview, and I'm from Richmond, Virginia, and I attend the international baccalaureate program at Henrico High School. My volunteer with the SCA began last summer when I spent a month in the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire. I served on an eight-person crew that was tasked with building a 30-foot bridge, log bridges, and benches out of native trees. We were taught how to cut down large trees, remove the bark, and use the logs for our projects. This hard work was accomplished with hand tools, brute strength, and teamwork. Additionally, interspersed with these building tasks, our team did an amazing amount of cleanup work. While our team was doing cleanup work and constructing bridges at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, we were also learning lessons of a deeper and more lasting nature. Through my experience, I realized that the SCA teaches lessons about teamwork, leadership, conservation, and the empowerment of individuals. I now know that my actions in the world make a difference; therefore, I take every opportunity to improve myself. I do this from my own well-being, but I also do this because my action or inaction in the world changes the path for future generations. I know that the Student Conservation Association does teach individuals to become civic-minded conservationists. Furthermore, this organization teaches respect for your environment, respect for your neighbors, and respect for yourself. The organization demonstrates the truth that one individual can make a difference. The SCA teaches that being a volunteer is a way of life, not a one-time job description.
When the summer in New Hampshire was over, I return home with a new sense of purpose and a goal to encourage as many people as possible to volunteer in ways that would help maintain and improve our environment. As a result of my experience, I wanted to reach as many people as possible; therefore, I created a website for teens to help match them with the perfect volunteer opportunity. My website has helped many teens get started volunteering. Also, I continue to volunteer extensively at the Science Museum of Virginia, and I have earned a Congressional Award Bronze Medal for my achievements in volunteer work, physical fitness, and personal development. Without my experiences with the SCA last summer, I might not have made some of my most recent achievements. Personally, I think that I, Christina Harview, am a very good example of what being a part of the Student Conservation Association can do for young people in our world. Thank you for your time.
DAY 1, DAY SESSION, 9/02/03
8PM - 9PM
Christina Harview, continued:
AmeriCorps programs have been absolutely invaluable to college students seeking experience that can be used to enhance their educational experience, and to help them become better trained and qualified for future career opportunities. This is especially important in these tough economic times, when opportunities for career-related jobs have decreased. Its a very tough job market out there right now for college graduates. I would say it is the toughest I have seen in my 30-plus years working as a career counselor in higher education. Another important point is that that the AmeriCorps programs have provided such a valuable experience to our country in terms of community programs, teaching programs, environmental programs, et cetera. I would venture to say that most of the country, in one way or another, has benefited from one AmeriCorps program or another. AmeriCorps is an excellent investment in our young people and in our country.
And now, the written testimony of Lara Gale from Utah, who served in Mississippi. "I completed a six-month student conservation association internship in June this year, and I'm now working with a wilderness program for juvenile offenders, so I am offering this testimony from my own perspectives as a young adult who has benefited from the program, and with empathy for young Americans who could benefit in the future. Freedom does not ring clear in America. It rings in a thousand notes of ideas and enterprises that somehow create one great harmonious chord. AmeriCorps is a note of hope wit the potential to resonate in the lives of all Americans. Young people need to hear it the most. They have had the least experience with their options in this world, but are brimming most with energy and desire to understand life and do something in it. They need to hear the note that calls them to do something good. To do something good. Thats different than words of encouragement or nice stories or positive role modeling. They need to know there is a real path of service and hard work, and it brings concrete benefits. They need to know there is a bottom line out there somewhere that will support every single person who is willing to work. I've always been a relatively average person, with high hopes and good grades. But as I learned more about the dissonance in the world, I began losing confidence in my goals. I was worried about my future, confused about my choices, and unsure in my steps forward. My internship with the SCA gave me an outfit for passions I wasnt sure I could channel productively at this stage in my education. It allowed me to step away form theory and academics and take on responsibility to serve other people, doing something I believed in for six months. It will allow me to continue my own education, with some financial breathing room. It has made all the difference in the way I view my capacity as a human being. The young people I work with now have heard more dissonance in all their lives than I ever have, and it is very difficult to convince them that the harmony is for them, too. They have to hear it. It has to be real. If you dont support AmeriCorps, I hope you have something better in mind. AmeriCorps, just by its existence, validates the highest ideals of civilization. If I cant play AmeriCorps into the unresolved chord theyve heard all their lives, I'll have to find something else to cover the notes somehow, and young people need to hear the harmony of what freedom really is. So do something else if you have to, but the ideals behind AmeriCorps need to stay strong. Theyre part of the harmony of our country. Fix the note. Make it better. Make it stronger, and tell us clearly that you believe in service, in work, in Americas young people. However you play it, play it loudly, because it needs to be heard."
And now, the written testimony of Jad Daley from Titusville, New Jersey. "My name is Jad Daley, and I am the Mid Atlantic regional conservation director for the Appalachian Mountain Club. My career in conservation has been extremely rewarding, and I credit much of my success in discovering my career path to a pivotal three-month stint at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge as a Student Conservation Association volunteer. At the time I accepted my SCA position, I was like many new college graduates: confused, broke, and desperately looking for a clear direction. In my time at the refuge, I found more guidance and insight than I could ever have dreamt possible. The refuge staff adopted me as their own and provided important mentoring in areas ranging from my professional life to graduate school ambitions to how to become an adult. I could never begin to repay the debt I owe them, or SCA, for providing me a rudder to steer between the many choices before me, and at the challenging time. I found in my service at the refuge a love of land conservation, one of the main initiatives undertaken by the staff, and have subsequently devoted most of my career to adding more public and other protected land to our nations conservation capital. Like todays graduates, I exited college into a difficult job market that made it hard to find opportunities for professional experience. Bare survival was more than the norm for my cohort. SCA and AmeriCorps give young people a chance to discover who they might be without having to jump right into an unsuitable career, just to pay the rent. I hope that Congress will have the foresight to make this continued investment in the young people who will be our nations future leaders."
And now I will read the written testimony of Sarah McCalough. "My name is Sarah McCalough, and I have served twice as a Student Conservation Association intern. I would like to share the two most important benefits that I have received from national service. For a year and a half before my first assignment, I struggled with a debilitating episode of depression, which resulted in the end of my employment. The work that I accomplished in my first SCA internship restored my confidence in my ability to do good work, and set me on a new career path. AT the beginning of my position, I was convinced that I could not do anything well. But by the end, I had decided to pursue a career in ecological restoration, and started to plan for graduate school. I continue to work towards the goals that I formed during the first internship. In addition, I graduated from Yale in 1999 with a debt of approximately $16,000. The two AmeriCorps education awards for my service will total about $3,500. It is a substantial amount, and I am grateful for it. Without the education award component of the program, I probably would not have been able to justify choosing national service over looking for a new job. But as things stand now, I can not imagine any job that would have given me as much personal satisfaction and happiness. I believe in this program, and I believe that it must continue at current funding levels to be effective. I would ask the Congress in this time of competing priorities to remember that many Americans like me depend on government programs like AmeriCorps. Reducing the budget for this program will reduce our access to the essential opportunities that AmeriCorps offers. Thank you for your consideration. Sara McCalough."
Hi, my name is Carrie Donovan. I am an SCA alum. I was in the high school program in the summer of 1993. I'm originally from Chicago. I had never been to a national park or a wilderness, and I was placed in the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado, which was an amazing experience. I've been to many mountains, wildernesses, national parks, since then, and I mean, it was just life-altering, especially as a 15-year-old, to have that experience, building a trail. I gained 15 pounds of muscle, and worked with other teenagers from all around the country. So it was amazing. I was also a Vista AmeriCorps volunteer in 1998.
I want to read the testimony from Daniel Moore, from Tennessee. "I served in SCA for three months in the summer of 2002. It was one of the best opportunities to learn new skills, make connections, and experience personal growth I've ever received. Although my work was considered volunteer, I and the others on my crew would have, without a doubt, not been able to participate if not for the education award and stipend provided. These small amounts make or break the decision for many people to participate in SCA programs, and therefore have a direct effect on nationwide and community service that gets done with SCA. I urge you to please provide the necessary funds to continue these services. Thank you."
Thank you, thanks very much for those comments. Were coming up to 8:00, should we do the next hour? Should we acknowledge the next hour? Lets do one more speaker. Well do one more speaker, all right? And that will be Josh Stearns.
I told you a little bit earlier that its a real privilege sometimes to meetwell, I shouldnt say sometimes. It is constantly a privilege to meet the young people who serve through the Student Conservation Association, and actually, I only just met Josh for the first time about two hours ago, but I was introduced to him two years ago. Its my job at the Student Conservation Association, among other responsibilities, to put together our newsletter. And I was in the process of doing that a couple of autumns ago and out of nowhere, September 11 happened. And while other people were trying to deal with far more significant outcomes that resulted from September 11, one of the things that we were looking at back at my office was how do we come out with a newsletter that is relevant, in these suddenly turbulent times? And out of nowhere, unsolicited, we got an essay from Josh. And Im not sure if heto the best of my knowledge, he didnt write it after September 11. There was no mention of September 11 in there. But Josh put together this essay that talked about the need to serve, how our nation benefits through service, and how service pulls people together and unites them in a common cause. And it resonated in a way that was just absolutely perfect for, as I said, the times we suddenly discovered ourselves to be in. I have e-mailed him, I have spoken with him on the telephone, but this is the first time that I've gotten to actually meet him, and I'm also pleased to say that I will be seeing a lot more of him over the next two or three years, as Josh will soon be joining our board of directors at SCA. He joins us tonight, Josh Stearns, an alumni of the SCA AmeriCorps Adirondack program.
Josh Stearns, The Student Conservation Association/Campus Compact:
Thanks so much for all of you who are sticking around for this, the eighth hour now. A little bit earlier, when I arrived, somebody had been walking around, one of the organizers I believe, and said quietly, I think we could do 200 hours. What do you think? And it looks to me like we could, and I think that a lot of thanks goes out to the organizers of this incredible event, for bringing the entire service movement together. These organizers have all been dreamers who are constantly getting things done, and have put in an amazing amount of work, so my thanks goes to them. In addition to speaking as an SCA and an AmeriCorps alumni, I'm also here representing Campus Compact, a coalition of over 900 college and university presidents committed to the civic mission of higher education.
I planned to talk tonight about my experiences with the New York Adirondack AmeriCorps SCA program, but youve heard a brilliant articulation of that from Wayne, and I have to tell him how thankful I am to hear that quote that was on Rebecca Pikes board, because that was a quote that she read at our graduation, and it was a joy to hear that again. In addition, another thing that derailed my plans was getting an e-mail this morning. It was an e-mail from somebody, I dont know who she is or how she got my e-mail address, but in this electronic world where e-mails are passed on and on and on, I can only imagine that it was through one of my correspondence. And her name is Lynn Nawinsky (SP?), and I just wanted to share this e-mail with you. She says, "You will all be in my thoughts and prayers this week, and my daughter Jamie will be there in the audience. Please let me know what citizens can do on a local level for AmeriCorps."
I've been collecting stories of AmeriCorps impact for the past few months, but somehow this e-mail really struck me in a way others had not. It seemed such a clear and simple passionate articulation of not only what AmeriCorps has done for America, but also, what it has meant for Americans, for local students, families, and communities. AmeriCorps isnt just strengthening communities now, it is assuring stronger communities in the future. One thing we constantly hear at Campus Compact from the community organizations that our campuses work for and work with is a genuine concern for who their successors will be. AmeriCorps serves this training ground, teaching young people the skills and values that will help them be community leaders, both in the public and private sector. To be an active participant in the democracy takes training, and AmeriCorps provides that training. More than 190 college and university presidents signed a letter to George W. Bush this summer stating just that. When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to serve. I knew I wanted to serve the communities of upstate New York, but I didnt know how. With the loans that I had collected in college, I could not have served for a year without that ed award being offered through SCA and AmeriCorps. In my time with SCA, I worked in partnerships with other nonprofits, businesses, schools, and government agencies, and it was that SCA program which gave me the skills to begin to work at a national service organization, and now at age 25, I am looking excitedly ahead to a lifetime of public work.
I so appreciated the thoughts and prayers of Ms. Lynn Nawinsky this morning that I want to end today by sending my own thoughts and prayers to the children of Tupper Lake Elementary School, where I served in the third grade class at an SCA program I recently learned will be cut, at least for the year, due to these AmeriCorps funding issues. I want to especially mention Dylan, a third grader, who told me that he couldnt wait until he was old enough to be an AmeriCorps volunteer. It is for him, and every student like him, who wishes to serve, that I stand here today asking Congress to make sure that they have the opportunity to do so.
Thank you, Josh. We talk all the time, as I said, about the transformation that takes place with our volunteers, and Josh has just talked about his transformation. We take young people and we mold them into citizens, responsible, active, growing citizens. One of those young people is Larry Nolan. And now he, today, is also taking raw material and molding it into something else, because thats actually what he does. Hes a sculptor, an artist, and an alumnus of the Student Conservation Association. I invite him up to share his experiences and why he believes national service is as important as he believes it is.
Lawrence Joseph Nowlan, Sculptor:
How are you? My name is Larry Nolan, and I grew up in Philadelphia, in a big family, with a workaholic father, and we were educated, and we went to college, and, but, you know, in a big family, I grew up trying to please, trying to do what I was told, trying to make people happy. And I went to college, I graduated from college, with really no direction. I graduated because all my brothers and sisters had gone to college, none of them had graduated, and that was my goal. So after I graduated, I got the first job that was offered to me, and that was a job as a paste-up artist in an advertising agency, because a friend of mines sister worked there and she promised me I needed no experience. So I took that job, and in four years I worked my way up to art director, and then they instilled their computer system, and I had never worked on a computer system, but they called my bluff. So for three years I invested my time and energy into learning everything I could about computers and when I came up for air, like Wayne, I was a very unhappy person.
So, you know, by the will of God, I saw a catalog for the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and I always wanted to take a sculpture class, so I took this night sculpture class, and it was with a model. I was, you knowId seen these sculptures all over Philadelphia and it was just something I wanted to do. And I took the class, and after the first sculpture was done, the teacher told me where I had done all my training, and I said I hadnt had any. And after the second sculpture, he had pulled me aside and said take a look around the room. These people have been doing this for years. And so I assumed he meant something good by that, so I asked him about graduate work, and he pointed out three schools. To make a long story short, the two that I spent all my time on the applications for didnt accept me, and one of them was the Pennsylvania Academy, and I got accepted into the New York Academy of Art, which is the only exclusively figurative graduate school in the country, and they accepted six people from the States and six from Europe, and I got in on what I did in that night class. So you can imagine, when I got to New York, I thought they made a serious mistake. And so, anyway, I did what I had to do, and I got to New York, and as the year was progressing, things were going well, and I really didnt want to go back to Philadelphia and do something just to make money to go back to school, so every day Id go down to the bulleting board and check out what was available. And this one day, I saw a sculptor-in-residence position at the Augusta Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, and Augusta Saint-Gaudens is a foremost American sculptor. And at the time, I didnt know who he was, and I didnt know who the SCA were either, but I sent in my application and they interviewed me and I got the position.
So I went up to Cornish, New Hampshire, from Philadelphia, and theres a big difference. It took a little getting used to, but here I was sculpting for a year now, and I was in a studio of my own, and people were coming in and celebrating my work and asking me all sorts of questions. And I was given an opportunity to continue to work and to, at the same time, educate those around me. And the great part about that is they had about as much knowledge of sculpture as I did at that point. So the questions they asked were things that were all fresh to me, and I loved it, and I loved the opportunity. To me, it was all about me being able to sculpt. I didnt realize what was going on. I didnt realize the things weve heard about tonight, the self-awareness and the sense of self thats gained by service work. I was unaware of that. They asked me to come back a second year, and after my second year of graduate work, and I came back that year and right before I got back I won a commission to do a national monument. So to this day its overwhelming to talk about, and so I got this commission to do this monument for the wildland firefighters out in Boise, Idaho at the national headquarters. So in (Inaudible) about two years, I had taken a night class to doing a national monument and serving in the SCA and these people became my family and my support unit. I was in New Hampshire, I was away from my family, and I was learning all about myself and I was serving without knowing what I was doing. I was just doing what they asked me to do because I got to sculpt, and it was a dream come true.
Since that time, the monument was unveiled, and since that time I've been commissioned to do many things, the Espy Award, things like that. I've done a lot of monuments, I've done pieces in New York City, and things like that. And yesterday, I was doing a write-up on a 9/11 memorial that I'm doing, because I dont feel that a single monument tin a single place can truly satisfy our needs in that tragedy. And as I was writing that about the monument, I described that feeling shortly after that tragedy, where we allmost of us knew someone who could be dead or alive at that time, and the only thing that was important was getting on the phone and calling our loved ones and our families and our friends and making sure they were all safe, and that was one of the great things to come out of that tragedy, was that sense of selflessness. And my experience at SCA and in service work allowed me to be aware of exactly what was going on in this country. It was at that time, these people were coming out of the woodwork to do service, and it was on all the coverages, you know, but this is the kind of stuff thats going on every day. And there was no need, if you had ever been in service work to feel helpless, because you knew what to do. That was the difference, between the people that would talk about being helpless and there was nothing they could do and the people that got into action. And we need to sustain each other. Were not islands, and thats what the service work does for us, and obviously all the people that have talked about AmeriCorps today and SCA, thats what theyve talked about, is just sustaining each other, and we need to sustain our country, because if we dont sustain our country, well have nothing to defend. And we hear a lot about defense lately, and if theres nothing here to defend, whats it all for? Thank you.
Thank you, Larry. We are deep into hour number eight of our hundred hours of testimony, but hey, were talking about people who deliver service. And its only after eight hours that we start to get to do that, right? We all have to work for a living, its after the eighth hour that we serve, and thats what were doing here on day number one. One hundred hours for $100 million to support AmeriCorps and the continuation of national service. Our next speaker, from the Student Conservation Association, is Angie Burton (SP?). She too is an SCA alumnus, and Angie is on our AmeriCorps staff at SCA. Oh, wait a minute. No, not anymore. Because with the cessation of the funds we dont have AmeriCorps programs, and at the moment anyway, we dont have any more AmeriCorps staff. But Angies still smiling, and shes here. Angie.
Angie Burton, The Student Conservation Association:
Hello. I must say thank you and its been a pleasure to be here, and it was a pleasure to serve in a program with Josh and to servework last year with Wayne and for another remember that youll be hearing from in one of our testimonies coming up. And I have some testimonies to read as well, but first and foremost I will provide my We all desire to make a difference in todays world. We strive to be more active citizens, and to ensure our children will live in a better place, with more opportunity, and we all act on these desires in several ways. Sometimes we need inspiration and support, and occasionally we need something stronger. Sometimes we need to be directly offendedaffected, excuse meto take an active role in a situation, and thats why I'm here, to take action.
As of 5:00 p.m. last Friday, I am unemployed. My position in the Student Conservation Associations New York Adirondack AmeriCorps no longer exists. The program will not be welcoming a new set of volunteers in October. We will not teach lessons, run after-school programs, or plan community-wide service events. We will not build bridges or re-route entire sections of trail. We will not serve a clearly identified need within the Adirondack Park, as our program has been closed. I began with SCA three years ago as a volunteer in the Adirondack program. My corps set out to get things done for New York, and we surpassed our goals. We had moved into a new town to work hard for people we didnt know, and we loved it. WE worked hard, we got dirty, and we grew. We grew as individuals, as a community, and as a corps. If it were not for my year of service, I would not know what it means to actively contribute to my local community. I would have never had some life-changing experiences. I planned a community-wide Green Up, Clean Up day. I saw the expression of success come across a childs face upon conquering a hill on cross-country skis. I received compliments from a teacher after she observed her second grade students grasping the concept of eco-systems. I enjoyed the satisfaction of setting a rock in the mud, and I experienced the appreciation of hikers who can now climb to Castle Rock because we built the trail to get there. And most importantly, I gained the confidence to be standing here presenting my feelings, my experiences, to you.
I loved my year of service, and it led to a job for me. I've been staff in the program since then, and the experience has been equally as amazing. On a daily basis, I have the pleasure to work with a group of eager volunteers who want to serve the Adirondacks. It is a beautiful sight to watch them pour their energies into lessons, projects, and enriching the lives of those we work with while pushing themselves harder each day to make a positive impact on the land and the people inhabiting it. My experience opened my eyes to a world of possibility, a world where anything can happen if you really want it to, a world where even the smallest effort can make an unbelievable impact, and a world where a giant force of individuals is ready, willing, and able to make a difference in communities across the country, to assist in developing a culture of responsibility. I am aware that service happens outside of these federally funded programs, and that people serve communities without receiving education awards. For others, the organization, structure, and incentives of these programs pull people into the world of service and it changes lives. It happened to me, and I am not alone. Our t-shirts all proudly display the SCA motto, Changing Lives Through Service to Nature. Admittedly, the first time I read it, I didnt really think much of it. Then I understood, we really do change lives. Through volunteering, we change our individual lives, but we also affect those we work with. We grow and mature. We make an impact, and we get things done. We are better people for it. We grow, and others grow with us.
In the last five years, the Adirondack program has completed over 170,000 hours of service within the park. We have filled an obvious need, and now we will leave a void. This year, one of our members decided to join the program, to take a break before jumping into a masters program in forensic science. Things changed a bit. Hes currently enrolled in a masters in teaching program within the Adirondack Park. When describing the program, he stated, "Its one of the best things Ive ever done. Before this, I never taught kids. I didnt even like kids. But then I worked with them, teaching them hockey. After that initial time, I realized this is what I was meant to do. A fifth grade boy responded in his survey that he wanted a member in every class, every hour, every day, every year. I think that is amazing. We change lives. Some of our work might not be the most glamorous of jobs, but if it enhances the experience of others, it is a job well worth it. This year alone, we taught over a thousand lessons, ran 17 after-school programs, constructed five lean-tos, built 25 bridges, and removed over 6,000 gallons of invasive plants from the Adirondack Park, just to name a few. Its truly amazing to me that a program that does so much good for so many people around the country can even be in this particular position. I remain hopeful that our politicians are listening, and soon, the funding will be restored. Through the program, I have become dedicated to service, and I truly believe in what we do each and every day as we make a difference. Thank you.
And I also have a few testimonies to read for you. The first one isOK, sure. I will read the first one. It is from Rebecca Van Kirkvoorde, from Washington state, and it reads "My name is Rebecca Van Kirkvoorde. I am an employee by thefor the U.S. Forest Service as a full-time wildland firefighter. I love my career, where I live, and the people I work with. I write this because I would not be in this situation if it had not been for the Student Conservation Association. In 2000, I was a confused college student, unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. I read about SCA on a flyer, I applied for a conservation associate position. I was selected by the U.S. Forest Service to work as a forest ranger in Juneau, Alaska for six months. It was the experience that shaped my life since then. I gained experience that would have been difficult to attain any other way. I got my foot in the door to working in federal resource management. The education grant helped me to finish my college degree. I have worked with and trained new SCA workers, and each one has been a unique individual with talents and an eagerness to learn. I can not stress how valuable this program was to me as an alumni, and to the future of SCA members. I ask you to please provide funding to continue AmeriCorps programs across the country. How can you deny the opportunity for Americans to volunteer their time, and help our great country?"
Were about to move from the Dirksen Building off to the Hall of States, as the hundred hours of testimony continues, but we do have a couple of other speakers still to come. The Student Conservation Association is very privileged to hold the anchor leg of todays opening day testimony. And we are now going to pass the baton to the president of our organization, who has been with SCA for some five and a half or six years or so. He has spent his entire life working in one form or another in service, and we are very, very happy to work with him at the Student Conservation Association. Please welcome Dale Penny (SP?).
Dale Penny, President and CEO, The Student Conservation Association:
I'm a big anchor, yeah. I'll weigh down everything. Well, I have a lot of prepared remarks. I'm not going to make most of them. The people youve heard are the reason SCA exists. Its the reason I'm privileged to be a part of it, and its the reason that we and SCA are privileged to be a part of the AmeriCorps network, and to be a part of national service. We believe that through service, young people meet the critical needs of this nation today, and develop the skills and the commitment to be our national leadership for tomorrow, and that service is the engine that powers this nation to overcome our ethnic, our economic, and our political differences. And it forms the bonds of compassion and trust that will shape our nation for generations to come. Thats why we do it. Thats why all of us do it.
SCA has a treasured role in national service. As you heard earlier from Liz, it was founded in 1957 and built on the tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which started national service in the 1920s and 30s. And it brought the power of young Americans to the task of helping protect and preserve our national parks. SCA is a proud partner with AmeriCorps since its inception. Weve placed 5,878 young people like youve met tonight in AmeriCorps, as AmeriCorps members, over the past decade, and those almost 6,000 young men and women have dedicated over 4.5 million hours of service to this nation. Last Wednesday, as we were preparing for this week of activities, we received word that we were denied all funding for AmeriCorps programs. Tonight, as we speak to you, SCA is not a part of the AmeriCorps network. Over 1,500 SCA members will not qualify for the AmeriCorps education awards this year. Hundreds of middle and lower income Americans will not be able to participate in national service through SCA. This is devastating to us, and its devastating to those young men and women. However, I am ever more committed to being here and adding my voice to those who celebrate the value and the spirit of service in urging our nations leaders to reinstate adequate funding to support Americas young people.
One of the true privileges I have and all of us who are on the staff of SCA have is meeting and knowing the young men and women who protect our parks and public lands, mentor and provide hands-on community service opportunities to children in schools, and after-school programs, and engage citizens of all ages in improving our environment and strengthening our communities. They are among the best of our nation. They represent widely diverse economic, ethnic, and geographic sectors. Some are just out of high school, as youve heard. Some are graduate students, as youve heard. And a few are even retirees who are youthful in every way. What they have in common is a shared commitment to protecting our natural world and improving the lives of all Americans. Service is the act of freely doing valuable work that benefits others beyond self. Its what builds a responsible and responsive citizenry. And regardless of where those individuals choose to servein our elementary schools, in a soup kitchen, in a national park, service connects people with our neighbors, with our communities, and with the world at large. And what weve learned from our members is that these elements must increasingly be linked and interdependent if we are going to sustain our nation and our planet. And ultimately, that is what compels young people to service. They intuitively realize that joining together with other citizens, young and old, to protect our world for future generations gives greater meaning to all of our lives, and ignites the human spirit in both those who serve, and those who benefit through the service.
This is not the moment to pull back from national service funding. As our communities and country and institutions face the challenges of a sluggish economy and stressed governmental budgets at every level, we see critical social, educational, and environmental needs going unmet. Increasingly, it is volunteers in service who are stepping in to fill the gap, to help ensure that children are being educated, meals are being delivered, the environment is being protected, and our communities are remaining safe. Our legislative leaders, who also are public servants, should seize this moment, not only to acknowledge the value of national service, but to honor it, as a defining strength of the American culture. They should provide the relatively modest financial support to ensure that the network of organizations who will be speaking this week, and who work in partnership with AmeriCorps, are supported in their missions, and that those that must rely on these organizations will continue to get the assistance they so desperately need. Thousands of young Americans are ready to act in service to this nation, if our elected leaders act first, and allow them the chance. I urge Congress to act. Why? The need in our communities has never been greater. The availability and the willingness of young people has never been more abundant. It is good fiscal sense to leverage public-private monies to support
DAY 1, DAY SESSION, 9/02/03
9PM - 10PM
Some other good thing came out of this, and it just happened ten minutes ago over there. Our next speaker, after hearing two hours of testimony about SCA said that "I have a daughter in high school, and she has to join your program."
You cant stop service. You will not be able to get You cannot stop it. It is a locomotive, its coming down the track, and even this little bump in the road is not going to be able to stop it. Our final speaker tonight is Tracy Gray. She is a senior research scientist at the American Institute for Research. And your wondering what is she speaking here for. Well, before she had the job she has now, she was the Deputy Executive Director of the Corporation for National and Community Service. We are privileged to have her tonight. Will you please welcome Tracy Gray.
Tracy Gray, Senior Research Scientist/Vice Chair, American Institutes for Research/DC Commision on National and Community Service:
Well, Kevin did not lie. [While] I was sitting here waiting for the opportunity to add my voice. I was so inspired by the stories by Wayne and Angie, and Larrys story about his involvement with the SCA, I thought, "Now thats the program for Rachel." Now, the fact that my child has been waiting for me to come home for the last two hours because she starts school tomorrow I will have no end of grief, but I know that she will understand why it was worth the wait.
As Kevin said, prior to being at The American Institutes for Research, I was privileged to be the Executive Director at The Corporation. In that capacity, I was the inside person. I never left the office. I didnt get so far as Silver Spring. I was the person who was helping to set up the infrastructure, making sure that the programs were in place, helping hire hundreds of staff, and just making sure that the trains were on time. But the day I left The Corporation and ventured out into the world, people everywhere I turned were talking about AmeriCorps, whether it was the cab driver whose son or daughter had just been in the program, or whether it was an older person who talked about their experience, sitting next to me on an airplane, or whether it was the young person who was working at the school who had been inspired to go on to get their teaching credential because of AmeriCorps. And it was something that I dont think I was prepared to experience, because I had spent so much time inside the doors of 1201 New York Avenue, and getting out and realizing how much AmeriCorps had permeated the very infrastructure of America. That no matter where you went, whether it was an urban setting or a rural setting although, Wayne, Ive never been to Idaho; I think I can locate it on a map but no matter where you went, you heard about this program.
Of late Ive been Commissioner on the D.C. Commission for National Community Service, and, as all of you know reading the paper or seeing the news, our wonderful city has its challenges in terms of poverty, crime, conservation issues with regard to the Anacostia River we are a wonderful community that has been challenged. And, AmeriCorps has brought great life to D.C. Programs such as City Year, our conservation corps thats working on the Anacostia River, and the NCCC thats here, including the Heads Up program, have served thousands and thousands of members in our communities throughout the Washington region and has offered the opportunity for over 5,000 young people to participate. It is truly changing lives. I know Im preaching to the choir here, and given the late hour, I dont need to push this point, but I just wanted to add my voice, really as a citizen of the Washington, D.C. area, an area that, of course, does not get to have its vote counted. So, I thought I would do something to promote both the notion of AmeriCorps and the benefit of The Corporation for National Service, both for our community and for our community at large. And, on that note, Im going to head on home. I hope you all enjoy yourselves if youre staying here in our wonderful city. And Id like to thank the organizers of this event. Thank you all.
Tracy, thank you so much. Thank you all, as well. Thank you for traveling to Washington, if, in fact, thats what you had to do go get here. Thank you for spending the day with us. Thank you for your testimony. Thank you for your support. But most of all, thank you for your service. We will wrap up the Dirksen testimony. It is going to continue, though. And in the meantime, as we shift over to the Hall of States, make sure you log on [to] saveamericorps.org, sign the petition. If you dont have an e-mail to your Congressman yet, youve still got time to do that. You can come back and support other testimony. Were here all week, folks. Thank you very much.
2nd Moderator (male):
Thanks, Kevin and SCA. Before we close, I just want to say, its a crime that the Student Conservation Association was not funded by AmeriCorps. That to me is a crime in this country. So and I just want to appreciate you guys, not only for the work you do, which I think is phenomenal. I mean, I feel a kinship because I was also founded in 1957 personally and actually met my wife, Angie and Wayne in the Adirondacks at Blue Mountain Lake, where Ive spent a couple of weeks every summer. I was there last week, in fact, and I played basketball over at Lone Lake. I have to say, I didnt know a lot about SCA. I heard about you guys through Timberland and heard about what you do. And its really interesting to me so spend the afternoon with sort of hardcore, urban folks from Youth Build and then the early evening with hardcore conservation folks doing amazing work. And to me, thats what AmeriCorps brings together. And, I have to say, Im inspired by your deep and unwavering commitment and also how you handled what we did to you today, which was put you on hold for an hour or more, and then you had to deal with all your folks.
So, Im also I have to say Im inspired by your humility. Every single person who came to this microphone from SCA is tremendously humble despite doing amazing work. And your grace and your humor and your wisdom. So, for me as someone whos been in this movement for a while and been with AmeriCorps from the beginning before it started, Im just proud to be associated with you guys. Today, we move the meter a little bit. We just started to. We just checked our website, saveamericorps.org, and we got a 10% jump in people signing the petition, almost 5,000 people signed the petition today. We were ABC News. ABC was here. CNN was here. We were on Crossfire, NPR, Story Today. Were talking with Nightline, Washington Post, New York Times, etc. So, this is already starting to have an impact, and were just rolling. Tonight, we will, as Kevin said, go over to the Hall of States. We have the D.C. Service Commission, Jumpstart, Hands On, Atlanta Citizen Schools, City Year, the YWCA, and Public Allies on deck. So, if youre like me, staying up all night and just cant get enough of this, well see you over there. Thank you all.
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