“Every generation blames the one before, and all of their frustrations are beating on your door.”
The Living Years, Mike & the Mechanics
Idealism is the defining characteristic of youth and it has many expressions. Many young people yearn to do something meaningful to help others and to fix society’s myriad problems. The Peace Corps is an example of a successful effort aimed at channeling young Americans’ passion and energy to create positive change in our world. There are many other programs, like Teach for America and City Year, that provide the opportunity for young Americans to do service, but the U.S. has never developed a major nationwide initiative or campaign that has truly transformed how we think about national service in our country and how it can improve the quality of life for both U.S. citizens and people globally. Until now.
In the U.S., the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project has been leading the effort to create a future in which a year of full-time national service—a service year—is a cultural expectation, a common opportunity and a civic rite of passage for every young American. Sometime between the ages of 18 and 28, young people would do a fully paid, full-time year of service in one of many areas, including health, poverty, conservation or education. The premise is that they will not only do good work and solve local problems, but also become better citizens in the process. The experience would undoubtedly open participants’ eyes to opportunities they might never have considered before and channel them into college majors and fields where their energy, intelligence and passion can have a positive impact on their own future and that of the country.
The Franklin Project has recently become part of Service Year Alliance, a joint venture between Be The Change, Inc. and the Aspen Institute. Service Year Alliance is a bipartisan organization committed to making a year of full-time service — a service year — a common expectation and opportunity for young Americans of all backgrounds. Service Year Alliance is the result of a merger between the Franklin Project, ServiceNation and the Service Year Exchange.
In addition to investing in national service projects and supporting the creation of national service positions at various organizations, companies can support this effort by participating in Employers of National Service. President Obama launched this initiative in September 2014 in partnership with the Franklin Project, the Corporation for Community and National Service, AmeriCorps Alums, Peace Corps and the National Peace Corps Association. Employers of National Service builds a talent pipeline which connects AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni with leading employers from the private, public and nonprofit sectors to create recruitment, hiring and advancement opportunities. Through this initiative, employers have increased access to a dedicated, highly qualified and mission-oriented pool of potential employees, and national service alumni have additional opportunities to apply their skills in the workplace.
Support for national service is one issue that we should all be able to agree on and that the private sector should be able to rally behind. The vision of the Service Year Alliance is ambitious but achievable; the groundwork is already being developed to create a measurable pathway to 1 million service year positions as a rite of passage by 2023.
Sodexo is a Charter member of Employers of National Service. Employers of National Service builds a talent pipeline which connects AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni with leading employers from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to create recruitment, hiring, and advancement opportunities. Through this initiative, employers have increased access to a dedicated, highly qualified, and mission-oriented pool of potential employees, and national service alumni have additional opportunities to apply their skills in the workplace.
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— Sodexo USA, Inc. (@sodexoUSA) February 19, 2016