ASC Joins #GivingTuesday, Pledges to Unite States in Service

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For Immediate Release                   
November 20, 2017
Contact: Emily Steinberg, (512) 961-1702, ESteinberg@statecommissions.org

Washington, DC — America’s Service Commissions (ASC), the national association of the 52 state service commissions across the country, has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Occurring this year on November 28, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

On November 28, ASC will raise donations in support of its mission to unite states in service. The nonprofit will ask its supporters to make a gift of $20 in honor of its 20th anniversary.  Together, these gifts will help support state service commissions and their AmeriCorps programs across the country that are addressing America’s most critical needs at the state and local level. As the nonprofit association representing the 52 state service commissions, ASC plays a key role in building the capacity of the state service network and ensuring strong bi-partisan support of our work.

Those interested in joining America’s Service Commissions’ #GivingTuesday initiative can visit www.statecommissions.org/donate.html.

“We believe whole-heartedly in the mission of #GivingTuesday,” said Kaira Esgate, CEO of America’s Service Commissions. “As an association focused on capacity building and civic engagement, we understand the need for individual citizens to get involved in supporting the causes they care about — both through volunteerism and philanthropic giving.”

The organization 92Y − a cultural center in New York City that, since 1874, has been bringing people together around its core values of community service and giving back − conceptualized #GivingTuesday as a new way of linking individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage giving. In 2016, the fifth year of #GivingTuesday, millions of people in 98 countries came together to give back and support the causes they believe in. Over $177 million was raised online to benefit a tremendously broad range of organizations, and much more was given in volunteer hours, donations of food and clothing, and acts of kindness.

“We have been incredibly inspired by the generosity in time, efforts and ideas that have brought our concept for a worldwide movement into reality,” said Henry Timms, founder of #GivingTuesday and executive director of 92Y. “As we embark on our sixth year of #GivingTuesday, we are encouraged by the early response from partners eager to continue making an impact in this global conversation.”

For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website (www.givingtuesday.org), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday) or follow @GivingTues and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media


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About America’s Service Commissions
America’s Service Commissions (ASC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing and promoting the 52 state service commissions across the United States and territories with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,000 commissioners, private citizens leading the nation’s service movement and administering 80 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. Learn more at statecommissions.org.

About #GivingTuesday
#GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the world. This year, #GivingTuesday falls on November 28. #GivingTuesday harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season. It inspires people to take collective action to improve their communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they believe in, and help create a better world. #GivingTuesday demonstrates how every act of generosity counts, and that they mean even more when we give together. To learn more about #GivingTuesday participants and activities or to join the celebration of giving, please visit: www.givingtuesday.org

 

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Spread Kindness this Holiday Season

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The weather is getting colder and holidays are almost upon us. While many of us will be celebrating, not everyone feels the joy. In fact, the holidays can be challenging for lots of people, including those who are hungry, lonely or sick. You can help! Join our friends and partners at Youth Service America (YSA) for their Kindness Rising campaign and make a difference through service projects or kind acts this year!

Visit YSA.org/KindnessRising follow these three simple steps to help Kindness Rise!

  1. Take the pledge to BE FEARLESS BE KIND.
  2. Start a project or do a kind act in your community! (Already doing a project? Share it!)
  3. Show your impact to be eligible for one of ten $250 grants!

The campaign calls on youth to stand-up for others, be inclusive and make a difference through service projects or kind acts. From providing food for the hungry to visiting with senior citizens, to raising money for kids in need, youth can change the world through kindness.

Downloadable Flyer

Get involved! Use this downloadable flyer to spread the word about the Kindness Rising campaign.

State Service Commissions, National Service Respond to 3 Hurricanes

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Pictured Above: (1) The Comisión de Voluntariado y Servicio Comunitario de Puerto Rico and local AmeriCorps members from the Boys & Girls Club of Puerto Rico join the Center for Puerto Rico by helping hurricane-affected families.  (2) Volunteer Florida and its AmeriCorps FL program Peacemakers Family Center partners with Convoy of Hope and Miami Dolphins Special Teams to host a post-Hurricane Irma food giveaway in Miami serving over 6,000 individuals in need (3) Texas Conservation Corps, funded by the Texas commission, OneStar Foundation, tarps damaged houses in Southeast Texas following Hurricane Harvey.  (4) Another Texas Conservation Corps crew of AmeriCorps members deploys to Aransas Pass, TX to set up a Volunteer Reception Center, organize volunteers, help homeowners, and manage donations for the nearby Rockport and Corpus Christi response to Hurricane Harvey.

This past month, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have left a trail of destruction across the United States and its territories. State service commissions and their local AmeriCorps programs have sprung into action to help affected communities respond and recover. Working with their Governor’s and First Lady’s Offices, state emergency management agencies, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs), and the Corporation for National & Community Service’s Disaster Services Unit (CNCS DSU), these state service commissions are playing a critical role in coordinating national service and volunteer resources on the ground.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, the Texas commission OneStar Foundation has partnered with Governor Abbott’s office and national philanthropists Michael and Susan Dell to administer the new RebuildTX disaster fund, which has already raised more than $68 million to rebuild Texas communities. OneStar has also activated AmeriCorps Texas members across their portfolio virtually to answer more than 4,000 Crisis Cleanup hotline calls and deployed their local AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team (ADRT) Texas Conservation Corps to place dozens of well-trained “boots on the ground” in Houston and Southeast Texas. To learn more and donate, visit RebuildTX.org.

Volunteer Louisiana, also affected by Hurricane Harvey, established a virtual volunteer reception center at VolunteerLouisiana.gov, connecting thousands of citizens with volunteer opportunities in Louisiana and Texas. Volunteer Louisiana also connected citizens with donation opportunities and staffed phone lines for all volunteer and donation inquiries.

In response to Hurricane Irma, the Florida commission Volunteer Florida and its AmeriCorps State teams have provided disaster response to more than 8,600 residents, and locally-serving Senior Corps programs have been involved in emergency food, shelter, and volunteer operations. To learn more and donate, visit volunteerflorida.org/irma.

Most recently, Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria. Currently the island has limited access to water and cell phone service. They are expected to be without electricity for months. The commission, Comisión de Voluntariado y Servicio Comunitario de Puerto Rico, is working with the First Lady’s Office and its local AmeriCorps programs to provide services to citizens impacted by the storm. To learn more and donate, visit unidosporpuertorico.com.

In total, CNCS has already deployed more than 1,800 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members to areas impacted by these hurricanes.

Thank you to these hardworking state service commissions and national service members for their tireless dedication to help local communities recover as quickly as possible from this devastation!

Mott Foundation Seeks to Expand Afterschool Opportunities through National Service, AmeriCorps — $250,000 Awarded to America’s Service Commissions for Multi-Year Initiative

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Emily Steinberg, (512) 961-1702, ESteinberg@statecommissions.org

Download this Press Release (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — States will be better poised to expand out-of-school time opportunities for youth at a statewide level, thanks to $250,000 in grant funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The two-year grant is being awarded to America’s Service Commissions (ASC), a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of the 52 Governor-appointed state service commissions across the United States and its territories that administer AmeriCorps*State grant and other volunteer-related funds.

From 2017-2019, ASC will work to identify ways in which the state service commission network can expand afterschool opportunities for youth through the inclusion of national service resources and opportunities, such as AmeriCorps.

ASC believes that state service commissions can play an important role in advancing afterschool programming efforts nationwide by providing human capital in the form of AmeriCorps members and community volunteers.

“The ultimate goal of the project,” said ASC CEO Kaira Esgate, “is not only to expand how many afterschool options are available, but to increase the quality of those opportunities — including getting the young people who participate engaged in more meaningful service and service-learning opportunities.”

Over the course of the two-year grant, ASC will work with the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks, state service commissions and other key stakeholders. Together, they will identify and replicate promising practices that expand the capacity of afterschool programs through the inclusion of national service members/resources, as well as ways in which high-quality community service elements can be incorporated into afterschool programs.

Through this effort, ASC believes that the project will lead to an increased mutual understanding between state service commissions and statewide afterschool networks to better leverage national service and AmeriCorps resources in support of high-quality afterschool opportunities nationwide.

For more information on this initiative, visit www.statecommissions.org/afterschool.

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About America’s Service Commissions
America’s Service Commissions (ASC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing and promoting the 52 state service commissions across the United States and territories with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,000 commissioners, private citizens leading the nation’s service movement and administering 80 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. Learn more at statecommissions.org.

About Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, established in 1926 in Flint, Michigan, by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society.  It supports nonprofit programs throughout the United States and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally.  Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Education. In addition to Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg and London.  With year-end assets of approximately $2.7 billion in 2016, the Foundation made 405 grants totaling more than $121 million.  For more information, visit www.mott.org.

The case for an American ‘year of service’

Originally posted by The Hill, shared with permission

The Hill photo

In times of national crisis, Americans have a history of coming together and giving back.

In the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt put 3 million unemployed men to work through the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the Cold War, President Kennedy told Americans to “ask not” what their country could do for them, but what they could do for their country, setting the stage for the establishment of the Peace Corps. And after 9/11, millions of Americans stepped forward to serve their neighbors, as volunteering soared and national service opportunities grew to lend a hand both at home and abroad.

Today, our nation suffers from an erosion of trust in one another and our key civic institutions. We see the effects all around us — from the fraying of American communities to concerns about our national government. How do we rescue a sense of national purpose and restore confidence in our democracy and ourselves?

General Stanley McChrystal (Army-Ret.) has awakened the country to a big idea — to make a year of national service a rite of passage for 18-28 year olds. Large-scale national service would deepen Americans’ understanding of the responsibilities, not only the rights of citizenship, and cultivate the next generation of leaders, who can work together across social and political divides to produce results for our country.

McChrystal correctly argues that national service programs are deserving of Congress’ continued support. We agree and have joined his Service Year Alliance to make a year of service a common expectation and opportunity for young people. We believe states have a great role to play in expanding these opportunities. Here, we offer our “two state solution for national service” to inspire other states to join this cause.

In Virginia, under first lady Dorothy McAuliffe’s leadership, we’ve worked to promote national service, partnering to engage every college and university in the commonwealth to create service year opportunities for students to connect their courses of study with real-world experiences to improve their communities. In 2016, over 50 Virginia colleges and universities signed on to Virginia’s Compact on National Service, and together, they are integrating service year opportunities on their campuses to build up their students as engaged citizens.

In Virginia, our commitment to the enduring necessity of service runs deep. Home of our first president and citizen-soldier, George Washington, Virginia became the nation’s first state to be designated an “Employer of National Service.” We encourage AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni to put their experience to work on behalf of the commonwealth, recognizing that applicants emerging from a National Service Year create a skilled talent pool to fill jobs in our state government workforce. Since that designation in early 2015, we have tripled the number of national service alumni working for the Commonwealth.

In Iowa, led by Gov. Kim Reynolds, we launched the nation’s first Governor’s Council on National Service, signing a groundbreaking executive order charging state agencies to create service year opportunities to solve public challenges at low cost to taxpayers. We wanted to develop a strategy to expand national service opportunities and further our reach with existing state and private funding. We believe national service is a successful strategy to engage citizens and improve government effectiveness.

Since our council issued its report, we have worked with both sides of the aisle in the Iowa legislature to implement it. We passed legislation creating the Iowa Reading Corps, which has already documented success getting struggling readers back on track and reducing special education costs.

We created RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps, helping refugees integrate into Iowa communities. Working with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and private utility companies we expanded the Iowa Green Corps into new communities, helping keep energy costs lower and reducing peak consumption. This fall we will launch a new national service program aimed at curbing the growing opioid epidemic.

But our efforts are far from over. We’re working to make it easier to create more service year opportunities because we believe service should be part of what it means to be an American. For every service year opportunity we create, more than 30 other volunteers get involved, bringing people of all backgrounds together to turn us from a country divided to a country united.

By promoting national service as a pathway to success for young people, states reinvigorate our democracy and put more Americans back to work for the public good. Policies that put national service at the center of cultivating future leaders are critical to our nation’s success. States shouldn’t wait to encourage more people to enter a better relationship with their country at a time of national division and loss of public trust. Now more than ever is the time to embrace national service. States can lead the way.

Kim Reynolds is the governor of Iowa. Dorothy McAuliffe is the first lady of Virginia. They have worked closely with Service Year Alliance, chaired by General Stanley McChrystal, to show what states can do to advance national service. Read this piece in its original format in The Hill.

Announcing ASC’s 2016 Annual Report

 

Dear ASC Members, Colleagues, and Friends:

We are pleased to present you with a copy of our 2016 Annual Report, which you can view and download below. As we like to say, better late than never! We hope you’ll enjoy reading our past year-in-review, including interactive maps, links, photos and member resources.

2016 was a year of growth for ASC and the state service commissions we serve. The role of state commissions and ASC continues to be essential and fundamental to maintaining a healthy, vibrant, and effective national service network. Consider the following objectives that we collectively accomplished in 2016 to advance state service:

  • Completed an intensive strategic planning process to help re-align ASC’s mission, vision, strategies, activities, and objectives;
  • Ensured the inclusion of Commission Investment Fund (CIF) dollars in federal legislation as a tool to help commissions provide training and technical assistance (TTA) to AmeriCorps programs, particularly in rural and underserved regions of their states; 
  • Further developed the role of states in administering national service funding, increasing the amount of State/National AmeriCorps resources administered by state service commissions from 75% to 78%;
  • Planned and executed four successful regional training conferences in collaboration with partner host states (Massachusetts Service Alliance, Nevada Volunteers, Serve Alabama, and Serve Indiana);
  • Expanded ASC member services to include a variety of new offerings as part of our CIF and TTA services, including a commission evaluation capacity webinar series, a new AmeriCorps program start-up webinar series, and peer exchange coordination; and 
  • Grew ASC’s membership with a record 244 AmeriCorps state service partner programs.

Perhaps most importantly, ASC has continued to grow our advocacy efforts and provide stability to the state service network in times of significant budget and policy change. Governors and other key elected officials increasingly rely on our network to meet critical community needs.

We are excited for the future. In alignment with our new three-year strategic plan, ASC staff and Board members are already hard at work planning for the launch of our new Public Policy Coalition, updated branding, enhanced Commissioner outreach and engagement efforts, and other new membership services. We are also excited to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of ASC in September 2017 (save the date for the evening of September 12 and stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks)!

Thank you for your continued support and leadership. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with you to advance state service together this year and beyond. As always, we welcome your thoughts, ideas, questions, and partnership.

In service,
 
Kaira Esgate
Chief Executive Officer
America’s Service Commissions (ASC)

ASC Congratulates Board Chair Chester Spellman on Being Named New Director of AmeriCorps

Chester Spellman headshotWASHINGTON, DC – America’s Service Commissions (ASC), the national association of state service commissions which leads, supports and elevates the state service network, congratulates Mr. Chester Spellman on his recent appointment to the position of Director of AmeriCorps for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Mr. Spellman has served the national service community faithfully for the past five years as Chief Executive Officer of Volunteer Florida, where he was appointed by Governor Rick Scott, as well as ASC’s Board Chair since 2016, where he was elected by his state service commission peers. During Chester’s time with ASC, we have been consistently impressed by Chester’s passion for public service, high standards of excellence and professionalism, and persistence in getting things done.

On behalf of ASC’s membership and the state service network nationwide, we congratulate Chester and applaud the White House’s selection for this crucial role. We are pleased to see the Administration continuing the tradition of appointing strong state service leaders to key leadership roles within CNCS. ASC believes that national service is stronger with the voices and experience of state and local leaders at the helm.

Chester will be moving from Tallahassee, Florida to Washington D.C. with his wife and three children and will start as Director of AmeriCorps at CNCS on August 28, 2017.

Click here to read CNCS’s announcement of Chester Spellman’s appointment.