"Your own story and the American story are not separate -- they are shared. And they will both be enriched if we stand up together, and answer a new call to service to meet the challenges of our new century … I won't just ask for your vote as a candidate; I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am president of the United States. This will not be a call issued in one speech or program; this will be a cause of my presidency."
-- Barack Obama, Speech in Mt. Vernon, IA
December 5, 2007
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama began his career on the South Side of Chicago, working with a coalition of churches to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods. During the election, people all across the country talked about feeling a new sense of civic engagement and got involved in politics for the first time. Now, Obama and Joe Biden are counting on Americans from all walks of life to serve the nation and help address the problems we face -- and they're committed to building the infrastructure and providing the resources that will make it possible.
Enable All Americans to Serve to Meet the Nation's Challenges
- Expand Corporation for National and Community Service: Expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots to 250,000 and focus this expansion on addressing the great challenges facing the nation -- helping teachers and students in underserved schools; improving public health outreach; weatherizing homes and launching renewable energy projects; assisting veterans; and helping communities plan, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
- Engage Retiring Americans in Service on a Large Scale: Expand and improve programs that connect individuals over the age of 55 to quality volunteer opportunities.
- Expand the Peace Corps: Double the Peace Corps to 16,000 by 2011. Build an international network of overseas volunteers so that Americans work side-by-side with volunteers from other countries.
- Show the World the Best Face of America: Set up an America's Voice Initiative to deploy Americans who are fluent speakers of local languages for public diplomacy. Extend opportunities for older individuals such as teachers, engineers, and doctors to serve overseas.
Integrate Service into Learning
- Expand Service-Learning in Our Nation's Schools: Set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year. Develop national guidelines for service learning and give schools better tools both to develop programs and to document student experience.
- Expand Youth Programs: Create an energy-focused youth jobs program to provide disadvantaged youth with service opportunities weatherizing buildings and getting practical experience in fast-growing career fields. Expand the YouthBuild program to give 50,000 disadvantaged young people the chance to complete their high school education, learn valuable skills and build affordable housing in their communities.
- Require 100 Hours of Service in College: Establish a new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.
- Promote College Serve-Study: Ensure that at least 25 percent of College Work-Study funds are used to support public service opportunities instead of jobs in dining halls and libraries.
Invest in the Nonprofit Sector
- Create a Social Investment Fund Network: Uuse federal seed money to leverage private sector funding to improve local innovation, test the impact of new ideas, and expand successful programs to scale.
- Social Entrepreneurship Agency for Nonprofits: Create an agency within the Corporation for National and Community Service dedicated to building the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector.