A common theme throughout the Conference on Volunteering and Service was enthusiasm for national service programs. When at the Service Unites Summit Points of Light board chair Neil Bush asked, “Who here stands with Points of Light in 100 percent supporting national service?” the entire concert hall rose to its feet.
Conference attendees shared their enthusiasm for national service throughout the Service Unites Summit through cheers, applause and social media. During the summit at the Conference on Volunteering and Service, Points of Light and Voices for National Service encouraged attendees to participate in their ongoing Thunderclap campaign in support of national service. Thunderclap, the world’s first crowdspeaking platform, allows individuals and organizations to lend their voice – and social reach – in support of ideas and causes that matter.
The thunderclap asked Congress to invest in – not eliminate – national service. The White House budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 calls for the elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service over the course of the next year, which would include ending national service programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. Through these programs, the Corporation for National and Community Service engages millions of Americans in results-driven service each year.
During Conference, attendees and national service supporters across the country made their voice heard by joining the social media campaign. Over the course of the campaign, 1,634 accounts signed on in support of the Thunderclap, reaching more than 3.6 million people on social media. The Thunderclap is just one part of a larger effort to #stand4service and raise awareness of the value of national service.
The enthusiasm for national service carried through the Conference on Volunteering and Service. Many attendees participated in the Strengthening National Service learning track, honing techniques to strengthen their local AmeriCorps & Senior Corps programs. Through sessions including “Creating a Mindful Workforce for the 21st Century: AmeriCorps Member Management,” “Getting the Right People On Board: Developing a Strong AmeriCorps Leadership Team,” and “Creating a Retention and Engagement Program,” attendees connected with practitioners to learn hands-on information on recruitment, retention, member participation and satisfaction.
Attendees also has the opportunity to hear an update on the state of national service legislation and funding. America’s Service Commissions, Voices for National Service and Service Year shared best practices to effectively engage and reach out to elected officials. A key takeaway was that national service supporters must speak up and share their service stories. Jen Ney, managing director of Voices for National Service shared an important reminder, “Elected officially engagement is a muscle, you have to work it out regularly. It needs to be part of your ongoing work.”
Points of Light looks forward to working with national service supporters to continue bringing together our collective voices and resources to raise awareness of the value of these important programs.