Fresh from Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, I wanted to tell you about a truly remarkable event that I had the honor of attending last week. Last Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) hosted a group of nonprofit and civic engagement leaders to discuss a new initiative aimed at motivating Americans to make a commitment to serving their communities this summer.
The “Summer of Service” will officially begin on June 22 at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service and culminate in a National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11. The effort is ultimately designed to put Americans on a path to sustained service that goes well beyond the summer season, and will focus on how Americans can contribute in four key areas:
- Promoting clean energy, energy efficiency and public land restoration
- Supporting education and literacy for all Americans
- Increasing health care access, public health awareness and prevention
- Providing community renewal to areas hardest hit by the economic crisis
In the coming weeks, Americans will be able to find more information about Summer of Service and volunteer efforts on www.serve.gov, a new White House website where organizations can list service opportunities and individuals can find opportunities to serve. Cabinet-level government agencies will also play a significant role in this initiative by creating fun and meaningful ways for their employees and constituents to commit to service this coming summer.
CNCS has organized summer of service initiatives in the past, which I’ve enjoyed supporting through my role as chair of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. What’s so impressive about this year’s effort is that the White House, through the First Lady’s office and the Office of Social Innovation, is putting its full weight behind promotion of this initiative and is proactively seeking the participation of the nonprofit sector to help expand the plan and bring forward other innovative ideas to engage communities and renew and strengthen the spirit of service and civic participation across the land.
Here at the Case Foundation, we’re looking not only at the many ways that we can commit to this Summer of Service initiative as individuals and as a team, but at the important role that technology and social media can play in mobilizing Americans to give back to their communities this summer. We look forward to keeping you posted on our thoughts and the program’s progress.
What are your ideas? How will you serve this summer?