President Obama Calls on Americans to Serve

Unveils ‘United We Serve’ Initiative to Be Led by Corporation for National and Community Service

WASHINGTON – President Obama called on all Americans to help in our nation’s recovery by volunteering in their communities this summer in a video message released today by the White House and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The President’s call to summer service launches United We Serve, a sustained effort to expand the size and impact of volunteer efforts in addressing tough challenges facing the nation. The United We Serve initiative kicks off on June 22, and runs for 81 days through a new National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11.

“This summer, I’m calling on all of you to make volunteerism and community service part of your daily life and the life of this nation,” said President Obama in the video. “And when I say ‘all,’ I mean everyone – young and old, from every background, all across this country. We need individuals, community organizations, corporations, foundations, and our government to be part of this effort.”

To make it easy for Americans to get involved, the President is urging Americans to visit Serve.gov, a website managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Visitors to Serve.gov can type in their zip code to find local volunteer opportunities, recruit volunteers by posting their organization’s projects, or get ideas for creating their own projects with friends, families and neighbors.

“The President has made a bold call to service at a time of great need and Americans are ready to respond,” said Nicola Goren, the Corporation’s Acting CEO. “Through United We Serve and Serve.gov, we hope to engage millions of Americans in service this summer and beyond.”

The initiative officially kicks off on June 22 at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in San Francisco, where 4,000 service and volunteer leaders are meeting to map out strategies to increase the impact of service in solving community problems.

The United We Serve initiative was conceived as a way to directly involve Americans in tackling problems in their communities. While any kind of volunteer service is encouraged, the effort focuses on four key areas education, health, energy and the environment, and community renewal.

“The challenges we face are unprecedented in their size and scope, and we cannot rely on quick fixes or easy answers to put us on the road to recovery,” said President Obama. “Economic recovery is as much about what you’re doing in your communities as what we’re doing in Washington – and it’s going to take all of us, working together.”

The effort comes at a time of strong need and momentum for service, as the economic downturn puts more Americans at risk and increases the demand for social services. At the same time, many nonprofit groups are experiencing a ‘compassion boom’ of increasing volunteers as Americans reach out to help their neighbors. United We Serve aims to tap this growing interest and focus it on addressing specific community needs.

The initiative builds on recent bipartisan efforts to expand service opportunities and invest in the civic infrastructure including the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act signed by President Obama on April 21. This landmark legislation reauthorizes and expands national service programs and strengthens social innovation and volunteer management in the nonprofit sector.

Recognizing that some organizations are stretched in their capacity to take on new volunteers, United We Serve also encourages individuals to organize their friends, families and neighbors to develop their own service projects to meet pressing local needs. The Serve.gov website includes easy-to-use toolkits on projects such as organizing a book drive, creating a community garden, or conducting a home energy audit.

The initiative will culminate on September 11 in a National Day of Service and Remembrance. This will mark the first time the nation has observed 9/11 as a national day of service, an effort started several years ago by 9/11 family members that was included in the Serve America Act. The day will be marked by volunteer service, remembrance activities, and pledges to make service an ongoing commitment throughout the year.

To encourage participation in service this summer and beyond, the Serve.gov website features a new All for Good volunteer matching platform that allows people to search for volunteer opportunities based on location and interests. The site allows users to sign in with their primary social network and includes social media applications to share volunteer opportunities with friends and see what activities they are participating in.

Corporation for National and Community Service outreach for United We Serve is supported by a grant from Target.

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