Friday, October 23, 2009

Economy Down but Service & Volunteer Jobs Up (3)

Idealist.org, an online search engine for volunteer opportunities and non-profit jobs noticed an 18 percent spike in page views during the week of Obama's inauguration compared to the previous week. The total number of volunteer listings viewed went up 27 percent.

Idealist's "New Service" blog for current or former members of service organizations saw their average monthly page views double in the two months since the inauguration.

Amy Potthast, a writer for New Service, said that in many ways a term of service after graduation is becoming more acceptable to young people, especially when the idea of finding a more traditional job immediately after graduation is becoming increasingly unlikely.

AmeriCorps, a clearinghouse funder for more than 4,000 different community and faith-based groups, has seen a record-breaking 400 percent increase in applications in the past four months.

Sandy Scott, director of media relations, says that on the MLK Day of Service, "participation went off the charts in 2009 thanks to [the] president-elect's call to service and making it a centerpiece of his inauguration." An excess of one million people helped with more than 13,000 projects -- more than double last year's Day of Service turnout.

President Obama has followed up on his campaign calls for service with an increase of $241 million in the 2010 federal budget for AmeriCorps and $201 million in the stimulus bill for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

On March 10, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on the Serve America Act, which would expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 positions.

Supporters hope to pass it before Congress recesses in April. The House could vote on its version of the bill as early as this week.

The Senate measure, sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, would provide $5 billion over five years for minimal living expenses and an educational stipend for people of all ages to volunteer in the fields of health care, energy, education and the environment.
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In a statement published for the hearing, Sen. Kennedy said, "Many years ago, on the fifth anniversary of the Peace Corps, I asked one of those young Americans why they had volunteered, and I will never forget the answer: 'It was the first time someone asked me to do something for my country.' Now it's time to ask again."


---- Kate Stanton and Lizzy Berryman, Online NewsHour http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/business/jan-june09/service_03-16.html


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