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Posted by ERIC WILSON – While attending the ServiceNation Summit in New York City, I asked several of the participants what they want to see happen in the next president’s administration. I want to share two of those responses with you:
Jessie Leinwand from Chelsea, NY is a member of the Health Corps, a non-profit organization that teaches youth and families to eat smart and exercise. Jessie wants to see “service learning playing a role in all school systems.” In particular she would like to see garden programs at schools from elementary on up. She hopes one day “gardens will be as prevalent as auditoriums.”
I sat next to Joshua Randle during the Presidential Forum on Thursday night. From Buffalo, NY, Joshua is a member of the National Leadership Council for AmeriCorps Alumni. He desperately wants president #44 to elevate service making it a cabinet position. Lucky for him, both Senators McCain and Obama agreed to do so that night. As you might imagine the crowd went crazy.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – On the 15th anniversary of AmeriCorps, Shirley Sagawa examines how far the program has come, and the opportunities for expanding national service:
Fifteen years ago today, President Bill Clinton signed legislation creating the AmeriCorps program. He observed that day that no government program could solve all our problems, but “the American people, if organized and directed and challenged and asked would find a way.” He saw “even in the most difficult circumstances the light in the eyes of so many young people, the courage, the hunger for life, the desire to do something to reach beyond themselves.” AmeriCorps, he believed, could be a means to leverage that idealism and direct it at key challenges facing the country.
The Clinton School has seen the benefit of AmeriCorps firsthand, as many of our students are former Corps members. CLICK HERE to read more from the Center for American Progress.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – On the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell spoke at the Clinton School about his job as the spokesman for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Department of Defense. Morrell began a career in journalism working for KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock before heading to Washington where he covered the White House for ABC News. At the Clinton School, Morrell discussed his transition for journalism to public relations and his role at the Pentagon. CLICK HERE to watch his speech.
Posted by ERIC WIlSON – As previously noted, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to kick off our morning session. President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian and First Lady Laura Bush are also expected to speak. Senior Political Analyst for CNN David Gergen is scheduled to speak at our lunch program. I’m told by ServiceNation staff that Senator Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton (via video) will also make an appearance later on today. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.
Posted by ERIC WILSON – In New York City at Columbia University’s Lerner Hall, I sat in a sea of AmeriCorps, City Year, Teach for America and college students. A few notables in the crowd included Jon Bon Jovi, Leonardo DiCaprio, Usher and Tobey Maguire (gave welcoming remarks) among others.
As we waited for the presidential candidates to appear, New York Governor David Paterson welcomed everyone and delivered a major announcement that received a roaring applause from the civic minded audience. Paterson joined Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger making his director of service a cabinet level position. More governors should join these two.
Moving on to Presidential Forum, here is a picture taken from my seat showing the candidates on stage together.
A coin toss decided who took questions first from TIME Managing Editor Richard Stengel and PBS Senior Correspondent Judy Woodruff . Senator McCain, up first, focused his message around military service, saying it’s “not about the individual; it’s about the cause.” When asked about the military’s recruitment problems, he brought up Columbia University, where his daughter Meghan attended, not allowing R.O.T.C. programs on campus. “Shouldn’t the students here be exposed to the attractiveness of serving in the military?”
Senator Obama agreed with McCain on that issue, and both candidates also criticized President Bush for not taking advantage of America’s sense of unity after 9/11. However, one main issue they did disagree on was the role of government in service initiatives, McCain saying the “government can’t do it all” and Obama saying “the government has to have a role. FEMA needs to work.”
During Obama’s questioning, he emphasized the need to “restore that sense of mutual responsibility” and giving citizens more opportunities to serve. He mentioned his desire to supply a “$4,000 tuition credit to every student every year, but in exchange for giving something back.”
Overall, both candidates expressed a need to inspire the nation to find ways to serve. On a separate note, Governor Sarah Palin was the only vice presidential candidate mentioned during the forum, even though Senator Joe Biden was in the crowd. She was referenced in regard to her comments at the Republican National Convention on Obama’s experience as a “community organizer.” McCain explained that “she was responding to the criticism of her inexperience and her job as a mayor in a small town.”
My real work begins tomorrow morning as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomes all the invited participants and prepares us for the summit. Until then…
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Patrick Cook-Deegan, a young man who biked across Southeast Asia to raise money for a primary school in Laos, gives a shout out to the Clinton School and Dean Skip Rutherford on his updated Web site: www.cycleforschools.com. We thought we’d do the same on the Clinton School Blog, since Patrick was a speaker here in January 2007.
Cook-Deegan created Cycle for Schools in the summer of 2006 with the goal of bicycling the length of Laos (about 900 miles). By the end of that summer , the total distance he traveled tripled and he added two countries to his journey, raising more than $22,500, enough money for a school in Laos and two K-12 scholarships for girls in Cambodia. CLICK HERE to watch his Clinton School speech.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller spoke yesterday morning at the Clinton School about the need for affordable housing for struggling Americans. Fuller discussed the origins of his organization and it’s roots as a Christian nonprofit. CLICK HERE to watch his full speech. As seen in the photo below. He also took time afterward to visit with Clinton School students about public service and decent housing.
Fuller’s 29-year leadership of Habitat for Humanity saw the worldwide Christian housing ministry build 200,000 homes in 100 countries worldwide. He founded Habitat with his wife, Linda, in 1976. Currently, he travels and speaks worldwide and has earned international recognition for his work advocating decent, affordable housing for all. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Clinton in 1996. In 2005, he founded The Fuller Center for Housing to promote collaborative and innovative partnerships among individuals and organizations with missions to foster adequate shelter for all people in need worldwide.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Former Clinton School intern and Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts graduate James McKinney, now a student at the University of Chicago, was published today on the front page of TIME Magazine’s Web site, www.time.com. A summer intern with TIME, James wrote a story on the growing use of curfews to quell crime sprees in American Cities. CLICK HERE to view the article.
In the meantime, James is also working hard to give back to his hometown of Forrest City, Ark., where he is organizing a four-day workshop to teach African American and Hispanic high school students the importance of “Taking the Next Step,” to seek a higher education. The events in the workshop include ACT preparation, a siminar on corporate culture and a voter registration drive, among other activities. Events beging Tuesday, Sept. 23, and run through Friday, Sept. 26. For more information on how to attend or volunteer, contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 870-519-5445.
Posted by ERIC WILSON – I received notice from ServiceNation officials, that due to “Secret Service limitations, we have a lower seating capacity” for tonight’s presidential forum than previously planned. With the doors opening at 4:30 pm EDT, I’m about to head over to Columbia University’s Lerner Hall where Senators Obama and McCain will be asked about their opinions on service and civic responsibility, major themes at both the Democratic and Republican National conventions.
Before I go, I want to bring your attention to one of the Summit’s major goals this week, and it starts tonight. They are trying to get 1 million signatures for their Declaration of Service. Starting at 8:00 pm EDT, you can go to http://www.servicenation.org and add your name, declaring your support for the idea that service to community and country unites Americans and meets the challenges of our time. Check it out.