Over 40 Youth Conservation and Service Corps to Participate in Nationwide Celebration of Earth Day, Environmental Stewardship, and AmeriCorps

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Over the coming week, over 40 Youth Conservation and Service Corps will host Earth Day events in partnership with AmeriCorps. These events, in conjunction with other Earth Day events implemented nationwide by other AmeriCorps programs, will highlight the importance of environmental stewardship in local communities.

"I Serve Because..." Video Contest: Make Sure Your Representatives Hear Your Story and Know that National Service Matters

The House of Representatives recently passed a budget that would eliminate funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). This would mean no more AmeriCorps, NCCC, VISTA, and many other important programs. As said by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), "The future of national service is at risk." 

If you have a story to tell about how you or the communities you served were impacted by national service programs, now is the time to make your voice heard. The Save Service in America campaign recently created the "I Serve Because..." video contest to get your stories out there. Simply make a short video explaining why you serve, upload it to YouTube or submit it to the contest via email (see below for details). There will be a special prize for the best video, but every story counts. It is vital that your Representatives in Congress understand how much we would lose if national service programs disappeared. 

Plenary: 20 Years of National Service Success


From Left to Right: AnnMaura Connolly, President of Voices for National Service; Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service; Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Acting Director of the Peace Corps.

This exciting session brought together three leaders from the world of National Service. AnnMaura Connolly, President of Voices for National Service, moderated a discussion between Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service and Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Acting Director of the Peace Corps.

The passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act was an early victory for National Service during President Obama’s first term, but proposed cuts have threatened funding for service programs, including domestic Corps and The Peace Corps. In addition to this key topic, Ms. Spencer and Ms. Hessler-Radelet both discussed how levels of volunteerism are at a high, and how more service opportunities should be made available in order to accommodate every American that is ready and willing to work.

Both women also shared inspiring stories about how they have personally seen the impact that service can have on service recipients and service providers. Wendy Spencer talked specifically about her time in New York and New Jersey following Superstorm Sandy. She was impressed by the fantastic work of Service and Conservation Corps that traveled across the country to provide assistance as part of a joint FEMA-AmeriCorps mission assignment. Carrie Hessler-Radelet queried the Conference audience, and discovered that many attendees were Peace Corps alumni. Facilitating reciprocal connections between the talent pipeline developed by the Peace Corps and domestic service programs like Service and Conservation Corps was a goal she addressed at length.

Alex Hreha, a 2013 Corpsmember of the Year from Coconino Rural Environment Corps, starts off the session with an inspiring speech.


Before the panel discussion, Alex Hreha, a 2013 Corpsmember of the Year, delivered an inspiring speech about how the Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC) helped him realized a passion for conservation. Alex talked about how he had been overweight and under-motivated throughout much of his high school career. The Corps helped him build confidence, learn valuable new skills, and develop the mindset to lose weight and get in shape. 

The panelists were particularly impressed by Alex’s story. Wendy Spencer even remarked that it mirrored many of AmeriCorps objectives for outcomes for its program participants. Later on in the day she even gave a shout out to Alex on Twitter:

Representing Native American Youth: How Philan Tree works to improve opportunities for young people in her community


Where are they now? – Catching up with 2012 Corpsmember of the Year, 
Philandrian Tree

Philandrian Tree, a former member of the Coconino Rural Environment Corps, won Corpsmember of the Year in 2012 for her commitment to service. Read below to find out what she's been up to since accepting her award, or find out more about Philan and her Corps experience by reading her bio from our 2012 National Conference.

Philan Tree’s association with The Corps Network did not end after she received her Corpsmember of the Year award at our National Conference last February. Along with Ladine Daniels, a fellow 2012 Corpsmember of the Year, Philan was nominated by The Corps Network to be one of the 14 founding members of the National Council of Young Leaders. The Council, formed in July 2012 in response to a recommendation from the White House Council on Community Solutions, is comprised of low-income young adults from across the country. The council members have diverse backgrounds, but they are united by how they have all had transformative experiences with youth programs like Year Up, Public Allies, Youth Leadership Institute, and YouthBuild, USA. The Corps Network is proud to have Philan and Ladine as our representatives on the council.

“So far it’s been a really good experience,” said Philan. “Just working with the different council members…I’ve been able to learn a lot about what other programs are out there. I’ve been learning about the different issues the council members face because they’re from different parts of the country. Then, from there, we came together to make recommendations to bring to elected officials and appointed officials in the government. It was interesting to work together to make those recommendations. Overall it’s been a really good learning experience.”

The Council’s purpose is to inform policymakers about the challenges faced by low-income youth and to offer suggestions for what can be done to ensure all young Americans have access to opportunities. As a member of the Council, Philan has had the chance to visit the White House and meet with a number of top officials. “We met with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, we met the president of the Ludacris Foundation…It’s also been great to work regularly with Dorothy Stoneman, the president and founder of YouthBuild USA,” said Philan. “We’ve had a lot of access to good people that can give you a lot of insight into how programs operate. I feel like I’ve learned a lot… A lot of the meetings that we’ve had with the Departments, they’ve really been very welcoming and very receptive to our ideas and recommendations.”

The council members were chosen for their diverse backgrounds. Some of them have experienced homelessness. Some of them have struggled through drug addictions. Some have spent time in prison. Each council member brings their personal experiences to the table. Philan acts as the voice of rural and Native American youth.            

Before joining the National Council of Young Leaders, Philan already had experience working on behalf of Native American peoples. When she was in college at Northern Arizona University, she and a colleague drafted a grant proposal for a home weatherization program that could help residents of Coconino County’s Native American reservations. Someone from the University’s AmeriCorps office was so impressed by the proposal that she referred Philan and her colleague to the City of Flagstaff Budget Manager as well as the Senior Program Manager at Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC). The Corps quickly offered AmeriCorps mentorship positions to Philan and her partner so they could access the resources they needed to make their plan a reality.

As a Corpsmember, Philan was instrumental in securing Memorandums of Understanding between Coconino County and two chapters of the Navajo Nation; the Leupp Chapter and the Tonalea Chapter. Because of these MOUs, CREC was able to employ 17 Navajo Nation AmeriCorps members to work directly with their chapters to install energy efficiency measures in homes in underserved Native American communities. Philan also procured a Resolution of Support from the Western Agency of the Navajo Nation allowing for CREC’s Energy Conservation Corps (ECC) to provide home weatherization to many families on the Navajo Nation lands of Coconino County.

As a result of Philan’s leadership, over 200 homes received much needed repairs and upgrades. Philan used her Navajo language skills to help inform elderly reservation residents about services they otherwise might not have known about. She led CREC’s first fully Navajo crews in translating informational materials and developing phrases to help explain weatherization techniques. Philan personally helped many residents fill out their applications for the weatherization program.

“I just really appreciated all of the support that everyone gave me back home. A lot of the chapters supported me, a lot of the people in the community really supported me. If it wasn’t for all that support, a lot of what we did wouldn’t have happened,” said Philan. “It was important to show them [reservation residents] that they can have a say in how programs are delivered. They would give suggestions and they would give feedback on how we should go about delivering these services and their ideas were well received. Often they were right and we would implement what they said. They had more of a direct say in how they wanted the services to work for them.”

After leaving the Corps, Philan took an internship with a local elected official on the Coconino County Board of Supervisors. She then moved to her current position providing communications and government relations support for the Navajo and Hopi tribes in her district.

“I work with the local governments on the reservations as well as their communities. I’m the point of contact for them when they have questions. I’m working on both sides to see when the county can provide a service or provide assistance, and then figuring out when we have to refer tribes out to another agency or program,” said Philan. “There’s just a lot of government-to-government relationship building between the county offices and the local leaders…A lot of my work is just finding the best ways to get services out to the residents on the reservations.”

Philan hopes to continue in this line of work. She wants to see more services reach Native American communities. She wants to see more support for Native American students. When she’s not at work or involved with the National Council of Young Leaders, Philan makes time to chair a grant advisory committee that works on behalf of Native students in the local school district.

Philan feels that her experience as a Corpsmember with CREC helped prepare her for what she’s doing now and what she wants to do in the future.

“Now I have experience with what programs work and why they work. When I look at other projects and opportunities coming in, I know what questions to ask. I got some good supervisory experience,” said Philan.

To other young people thinking about joining a Corps, Philan says:

“Just look around at the different types of Corps because they’re not all the same. And think about where you want to be. The overall experience can be really fun if you take advantage of it and utilize all the opportunities.”

2013 Corps Legacy Achievement Award winner, Ira Okun

Much of Ira Okun’s career has been dedicated to serving youth and improving communities. Ira began his career as a caseworker for Los Angeles County in 1955. He eventually became a probation officer, and later served as the Superintendant of Marin County’s Juvenile Hall. After years of working in the youth correctional field, however, Ira decided he wanted to work in prevention programs.

Following his service as the Deputy Director of Peace Corps operations in Ghana from 1968 to 1971, Ira took a series of leadership positions at various California-based nonprofit organizations serving youth and families. For more than four years he was the Executive Director of the Charila Foundation, which offered a residential program for troubled teenage girls. He also spent over two years as the Executive Director of Coleman Children and Youth Services, advocating for neglected and abused children. Ira then spent 13 years serving as the CEO of Family Service Agency of San Francisco, a multi-program human service agency with over 16,000 clients in 28 different service systems.

After Ira retired from the Family Service Agency in 1990, he formed Nonprofit Organization Services. Through NPOS, Ira has spent the last two decades consulting numerous nonprofit organizations, including The Corps Network and many individual Corps. Ira provided the impetus and foundational work for the development of The Corps Network’s Excellence in Corps Operations (ECO) Standards Process. In 1993, Ira became the founding president of the California Association of Local Conservation Corps (CALCC), which has allowed the California Corps movement to double in size from 7 Corps at CALCC’s inception to the 14 Corps located throughout California today. CALCC has been an effective advocate for Corps and has helped generate much needed income for improving and expanding programs for at-risk youth.

Ira has earned his reputation as the preeminent national expert and consultant to the Corps community in areas such as strategic planning, growth management, and organizational development. Beginning in 1993, Ira has made annual visits to consult with Civic Works in Baltimore. His insight and suggestions have helped improve Civic Works’ programs, operating mechanisms, and finances. Ira’s wisdom has also been beneficial to the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps. His guidance helped the executive team of HYCC develop a larger non-profit called KUPU, which today serves thousands of individuals in Hawaii.

In addition to his service to Civic Works and HYCC, Ira has had a major impact on the development of numerous other Corps programs, including San Francisco Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps, Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa, American YouthWorks, Los Angeles Conservation Corps,Utah Conservation Corps, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, and the Colorado Youth Corps Association. He also long been someone The Corps Network has turned to for suggestions.

Ira has graciously provided his wisdom and experience to so many, and his actions have created tremendous ripples in the conservation and non-profit communities nationwide. His life has impacted thousands and thousands of individuals who are probably not even aware of his numerous and significant contributions to the Corps movement.  As said by John Leong, Executive Director of KUPU, “Ira is a living gem.”


"A desire to do things that benefit more than just me" -- Patricia Bohnwagner's Corps Experience

Where are they now? - Catching up with 2005 Corpsmember of the Year,
Patricia Bohnwagner

Patricia Bohnwagner, formerly of Urban Corps of San Diego, won Corpsmember of the Year in 2005 for her commitment to service. Read below to find out what she's been up to since accepting her award, or find out more about Patricia and her Corps experience by reading her bio from our 2005 National Conference.

Patricia Bohnwagner learned about Urban Corps of San Diego from an advertisement she found in the PennySaver. The ad included a long list of skills that a young person could gain by becoming a Corpsmember. Patricia had her high school diploma, but she was unsure what she wanted to do with her future. Maybe working for Urban Corps would give her some direction. Patricia started at Urban Corps in November 2002…and she ended up staying there for the next seven years.

Patricia was a Corpsmember when she first joined Urban Corps, but she was eventually promoted to Supervisor. She ended up working in nearly every department at the Corps. She led a crew in repainting walls and buildings for the Graffiti 

Department. She helped find new clients for the Corps’ Recycling Department. Patricia also planted trees in the Urban Forestry Department, and she helped find employment for Corpsmembers as a Supervisor for the Corps’ internship program. At one point, as Supervisor for the Corps’ educational program, Patricia taught elementary school children about power line safety and the benefits of trees. This experience helped her overcome a fear of public speaking. Looking back at her years with the Corps, she was hard-pressed to come up with a favorite project or assignment. “Really, everything I did there seemed to make a positive difference in some way,” said Patricia. “…I still drive by areas where I have helped plant trees, worked during a community clean up event, or removed graffiti and I feel proud of what I’ve done.”

It was Patricia’s positive experience with Urban Corps that helped her make the decision to stay in San Diego for as long as she has. She is originally from Massachusetts, but she moved to California to live with her sister and help take care of her nephew. Both her sister and brother-in-law were in the Navy; Patricia first came to California when her brother-in-law was deployed and her sister was left to care for her nephew alone.

As Patricia says, she and her sister “had a rollercoaster of a relationship” when they were younger. Patricia was at one point kicked out of the house for six months. It was only with the help of friends that she was able to avoid homelessness. When her sister decided to leave the Navy and move back east, Patricia stayed in California to see where her job with the Corps could take her. She had to sleep on friends’ couches after her sister moved, but she saved enough money to eventually get a shared apartment and buy her first car.

 “Thank goodness I’ve always had a great support system of friends,” said Patricia.

Now that it’s been over three years since she worked for the Corps, Patricia can look back at the experience and say that it helped change her outlook. It helped her decide what she wanted to do with her life.

“One thing that has stuck with me through the years is a desire to do things that benefit more than just me. A sense of serving and doing what I can to make the community better, or doing what I can to help other people,” she said. “I also gained so much knowledge about the environment and basic work skills that have helped me immeasurably through the years. It was hard work, but the skills, knowledge and experience I gained during my time at Urban Corps have undoubtedly had a major, positive influence on where I am in life today.”

That sense of wanting to give back helped inspire Patricia to become an EMT. She currently serves as a medic in the California Army National Guard (CAARNG). Her primary job is as a United States Postal Carrier. As part of the Guard, Patricia teaches a Combat Lifesaver course for troops preparing to deploy. She herself served as a medic in Iraq for a year.

Patricia is in the process of switching over to the Army Reserves. She will soon have the opportunity to be sent to a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) program in Texas. After completing the program, she hopes to return to California and get her associate’s degree as a Registered Nurse. She currently has over 30 college credits, but it’s been difficult for her to maintain a regular school schedule with her long work hours and the deployment to Iraq. After earning her associate’s degree, Patricia should only be three or four semesters away from a bachelor’s degree. Patricia’s goal is to complete her bachelor’s degree and find employment as a nurse within the next six years.

Patricia saved enough money during her deployment to move her mom out to California and furnish a new apartment for the two of them. She is currently living comfortably with her mom and a recently adopted shelter dog. She is fairly confident that her time in the Corps played a big part in getting her where she is today.

“[If I hadn’t joined the Corps] I can’t say I’d be on a horrible path or anything, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had as many successes as I have. I would probably be working at a meaningless job and perhaps wouldn’t have joined the military,” said Patricia. “I would for sure be a lot further from my goals than I am now, and wouldn’t have realized all this potential in myself, since that was due to my time in the Corps and the great staff that worked there.”

To young people thinking about joining a Corps, Patricia says:

“With anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Only you can make the choice to either better yourself and your situation, or just accept what comes your way. BE PROACTIVE! Do your best at everything you do and do the right thing, and you won’t have as many regrets or disappointments. And don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go the way you want or as quickly as you want. Life happens and it’s hard to move up, but it can be done. Stick to it and never give up. Stay positive and don’t let anyone bring you down or tell you that you can’t do something.”



AmeriCorps NCCC Dedicates New Campus in Baltimore

Ribbion-cutting ceremony at new NCCC campus in Baltimore. From Serve.gov.

From the National Service Blog of Serve.gov - written December 17, 2012

Civc Leaders, Community Groups, and elected officials joined the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today for a dedication of the new AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) Atlantic Region Campus in the former Sacred Heart of Mary School of Baltimore, MD.

AmeriCorps NCCC brings young men and women 18 to 24 years old together with one goal -- to serve when and where they're needed. After completing training on one of five regional campuses, these AmeriCorps members live ans serve together for 10 months to tackle pressing local problems in communities across the country. Their work is wide ranging, from responding to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvements, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development.

“When these young leaders go into a community, they become part of that community. I assure you that Baltimore will be proud of what future AmeriCorps NCCC teams accomplish in Maryland and other states as a result of the training they receive at this new campus,” said CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer.

Spencer was joined at the ribbon-cutting ceremony by U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Archbishop William E. Lori of the Baltimore Archdiocese, AmeriCorps NCCC Director Kate Raftery, and national service alumni, including two members of the original Civilian Conservation Corps established nearly 80 years ago.

“AmeriCorps volunteers are unflagging, unflinching and determined to make a difference. They tackle the toughest problems in our communities, responding to emergency and disaster situations like Super-Storm Sandy,” said Sen. Mikulski. “I fought to create AmeriCorps, I fought to strengthen AmeriCorps, and I'm proud to dedicate this new NCCC campus to establish an even stronger AmeriCorps program in Baltimore. By partnering with our faith-based community to bring the NCCC to the Sacred Heart of Mary, we are continuing in a tradition of working together toward a common purpose to meet a compelling human need.”

“We are really very, very pleased that AmeriCorps has found a new home here and will be our neighbor at Sacred Heart of Mary,” Archbishop Lori said. He expressed delight that the school will “continue to serve as a beacon of hope, as a center of education, and an asset to the entire community.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake welcomed NCCC to its new home, noting that “460 members have given more than 90,000 hours of service since 2009 -- and that's 90,000 hours spent making Baltimore a better, safer, and stronger city. And for that, I'm grateful.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley sent a citation commemorating the event that read, “In recognition of your outstanding record of success and achievements in strengthening communities and developing leaders through direct, team-based national and community service … the people of Maryland join together in expressing our gratitude and great respect for your positive contributions to our state and nation.”

The Atlantic Region Campus is moving from its current location in Perryville, MD, which hosts more than 160 AmeriCorps NCCC members each year. CNCS officials anticipate the new facility could house as many as 240 members annually. The campus serves 11 states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont, in addition to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Wendy Spencer on Hurricane Sandy Recovery

Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, with an AmeriCorps member. From Serve.gov

From the National Service Blog of Serve.gov

As Hurricane Sandy efforts transition from emergency response to long-term recovery, AmeriCorpsmembers are providing vital leadership in communities up and down the East Coast.

AmeriCorps is skilled and experienced in volunteer management and gutting and mucking operations – and our teams are already having a powerful impact helping hundreds of Sandy survivors put their homes and lives back together.

I witnessed their impact first hand on a return visit to New Jersey and New York last week. From Atlantic City to Union Beach to the Rockaways, I was deeply impressed with the resourcefulness and dedication of our members, who are serving long hours in difficult conditions.

With tens of thousands of homes damaged along the East Coast, there is a large need for volunteers to help displaced residents take the steps necessary to move back into their homes. The tasks involved – removing debris, remediating mold, and gutting and mucking – are labor intensive. This work requires skilled crew leaders and an infrastructure to recruit, train, and supervise volunteers. That's where AmeriCorps comes in.

Ernie Farmer, a crew leader from the Washington Conservation Corps, briefed me on the volunteer operation he leads out of a community center in Brigantine, NJ. Working with state and local officials, an AmeriCorps strike team set up the operation in a matter of days. They reached out to local partners, secured a location, found housing, and established a seven-day-a-week volunteer operation. This includes canvassing door-to-door, creating work order and volunteer tracking systems, securing donated supplies, training volunteers, and sending out crews to gut and muck homes.

One of the crews we met in Atlantic City was led by NECHAMA, the Jewish disaster relief organization. All 11 volunteers were recent graduates of AmeriCorps NCCC – alums eager to get back into the field for hands-on service.

In many sites, AmeriCorps members are both leading volunteers and providing the muscle power for home repair. In Union Beach, NJ, a blue-collar town of 6,200 where nearly a quarter of the homes were lost, I joined AmeriCorps members in ripping out the flooring of a storm-damaged home. Our members bring tools, training, and a supercharged work ethic that rubs off on the volunteers they serve with.

Removing damaged floors and mitigating mold reduces health risks and can save homeowners thousands of dollars – especially important for those who aren't covered through their insurance or can't afford contractors. The cost savings are significant. But AmeriCorps members and volunteers provide something else harder to put a dollar figure on but no less important: an enormous emotional lift.

Maureen Gallagher is an 82-year-old widower living a few blocks from the shore in the Belle Harbor neighborhood in Queens. Her home suffered extensive damage and she has been living with her daughter since the storm. When she heard volunteers were at her home, she made a special trip over to say thanks. Emerging from her car, she was overcome with gratitude, with tears streaming down her face as she hugged and thanked the volunteers. Similar scenes are playing out across the affected areas, as volunteers come from near and far to lend a hand.

Maureen is one of hundreds of homeowners assisted through New York Cares, a Points of Light affiliate. We are proud to partner with New York Cares, our state service commissions, and dozens of other organizations in the affected states on this critical mission. It takes partnerships of many kinds to help a community recover and rebuild, especially from a storm as devastating as Hurricane Sandy.

Working with local partners and residents, national service will continue to provide leadership and muscle power to Sandy survivors in their time of need.

Wendy Spencer is CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that engages millions Americans in service through Senior Corps and AmeriCorps, and leads the president's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.

Volunteering among Americans hits 5-year high

A press release from the Corporation for National and Community Service 

Washington, D.C. – As the holiday season spotlights charitable contributions and acts of kindness, a new national study shows that Americans significantly increased their commitment to volunteering and civic engagement in 2011, with the national volunteer rate reaching a five-year high.

The findings come from Volunteering and Civic Life in America, a report issued by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC).

The report also finds that parents of school-aged children contributed more than 2.5 billion hours of their time to volunteer efforts in 2011, most of it to school-based projects, underscoring the pivotal role that schools play as hubs for local volunteer efforts.

Overall, 64.3 million Americans (more than one in four adults) volunteered through a formal organization last year, an increase of 1.5 million from 2010. The 7.9 billion hours these individuals volunteered is valued at $171 billion. Among citizens who volunteered through an organization, the top activities included fundraising or selling items to raise money (26.2%); collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food (23.6%); engaging in general labor or transportation (20.3%); or tutoring or teaching (18.2%).

In addition to this formal volunteering, two out of three Americans (65.1% or 143.7 million individuals) volunteered informally by doing favors for and helping out their neighbors, an increase of 9.5 percentage points from last year. Among other key findings, almost half of Americans (44.1%) actively participated in civic, religious, and school groups.

“Volunteering and civic engagement are the cornerstone of a strong nation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, a federal agency that supports and strengthens volunteering through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs, which collectively engaged 3.7 million Americans in volunteering in 2011. “Hurricane Sandy provides a prime example of the importance of people working together, with volunteers throughout the Northeast and elsewhere in the country stepping up to support recovery and relief efforts. When volunteers and residents come together, it has a positive and powerful impact on a community.”

The report shows the volunteer rate among parents is seven percentage points higher than the national average (33.7% compared to 26.8%). Nearly half of parents in their late forties with school-aged children volunteer, despite time-consuming child-rearing responsibilities. Among working mothers, the volunteer rate is nearly 40 percent.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the findings reinforce how community participation is an essential factor in school success.

“CNCS's report crystallizes that our schools are essential hubs for volunteering and civic activity,” said Secretary Duncan. “Every day, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members help more than three million disadvantaged youth by serving as teachers, tutors, mentors, and counselors.” Duncan added that, “In America, education must be the great equalizer—and robust engagement from communities, families, mentors, tutors, and other volunteers is absolutely vital to achieving that core American ideal. As a nation, we are so much stronger working together collaboratively to advance student learning than working in isolation.”

The report also ranks all 50 states and the nation's largest cities and metropolitan areas for their volunteering and engagement rates. It has become a useful tool for elected officials, civic leaders, and nonprofit executives who recognize the economic impact of an engaged community.

“Volunteering and Civic Life in America helps tell the story of the quiet civic reawakening we see happening around the country—a story about people helping communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy; serving on the PTA; connecting with friends through social media; and advocating for their favorite causes,” said Ilir Zherka, Executive Director of NCoC. “We believe this data shines a light on this reawakening, and is essential to inspiring all sectors of our society to work together to bolster it.”

The full report is available at volunteeringinamerica.gov.

Key Findings: States and Metropolitan Areas

  • The top five states for volunteering are Utah (40.9%), Idaho (38.8%), Iowa (38.4%), Minnesota (38.0%), and South Dakota (36.8%).
  • The five states with the greatest percentage point increase in volunteering from last year are Delaware (+5.3%), Oregon (+5.0%), Alaska (+4.4%), Georgia (+3.7%), and Idaho (+3.7%). The survey results indicate that some gains for Delaware and Oregon were due to increases in collecting/distributing food when volunteering (+1.0% Delaware; +2.3% Oregon).
  • The top five metro areas for volunteering are Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI (37%), Rochester, NY (34.8%), Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA (33.4%), Salt Lake City, UT (33.2%), and Jacksonville, FL (32.2%).
  • The five metro areas with the greatest gains in volunteering are San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA (+7.2%), Louisville, KY (+7.1%), Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA (+6.3%), Austin-Round Rock, TX (+5.6%), and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL (+5.4%).

Key Findings: Parents

Please note that this survey defines parents as people who have children under 18 at home.

  • The parent volunteering rate in 2011 was 33.7 percent nationwide, which is a 0.1 percentage point increase from the prior year. This translates to 22.7 million parents volunteering with a formal organization for approximately 2.5 billion hours, which is valued at $54 billion.
  • Parents between the ages of 26 and 50 with school-aged children volunteered at a significantly higher rate than non-parents in this age range, with volunteering rates for parents peaking at nearly 1 in 2 parents (46%) in their late 40s.
  • Working mothers are a key segment of volunteering parents, as nearly four in 10 (38%) volunteered.
  • The top five states for parent volunteering rates are Utah (52.0%); South Dakota (46.2%); Iowa (45.9%); Minnesota (45.0%); and Wisconsin (44.3%).
  • Schools and other youth service organizations are the most popular places for parents to volunteer. More than 40 percent (43.1%) of parents volunteered at one of these places.
  • Parents also expressed some or a great deal of confidence in the public schools their children attend, with nine out of 10 parents (90.4%) in 2011 feeling this way


The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), an independent federal agency, plays a vital role in supporting the American culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility and is a leading grantmaker in support of service and volunteering. Through Senior CorpsAmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund, and other programs and initiatives, CNCS provides opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and address critical needs. To learn more, visit nationalservice.gov.

The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) believes that everyone has the power to make a difference in how their community and country thrive. NCoC is a dynamic, non-partisan nonprofit working at the forefront of our nation's civic life. Through events, research, and reports, NCoC expands our nation's contemporary understanding of what it means to be a citizen. More information is available at www.ncoc.net.

The data for this report were collected through two supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS): the Volunteer Supplement and the Civic Engagement Supplement. The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households (approximately 100,000 adults), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The selected supplements collect data on the volunteering, voting, and civic activities of adults age 16 and older for volunteering and 18 and older for the civic supplement. Volunteers are considered individuals who performed unpaid volunteer activities through or for an organization at any point during the 12-month period (from September 1st of the prior year through the survey week in September of the survey year).

Providing Relief – What Corps Have Done to Assist in Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts


Washington Conservation Corps members remove damaged household items from a flooded home

Hurricane Sandy took lives, destroyed homes and businesses, and left millions of people without power. As the storm bore down on the Northeast coast during the last days of October, Corps across the country were already mobilizing to help with the relief effort. Corpsmembers have played a significant role in helping communities in New York, New Jersey and 5 other states recover and rebuild.

Some Corps worked through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and FEMA, while others organized independent of the federal response. Some Corps worked in shelters, while others cleared debris. Some Corps travelled thousands of miles to assist in the relief efforts, while other Corps worked in their own backyards.

Find out which Corps have been involved in Sandy recovery, read about what they’ve done to help, and see pictures from the field:

Corps Involved in recovery efforts 

Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa Corpsmembers “mucking out” a home damaged by flood water

What are some of the things Corps have done?

  • Operated emergency shelters throughout New York City: managed volunteers, monitored and assisted residents, cared for children and pets, maintained the facilities
  • Cleared debris
  • Cut down damaged trees and limbs
  • “Mucking out” - removing water and water damaged items and building materials from homes and businesses affected by flooding
  • Solicited donations of food and emergency supplies from individuals and businesses not hit as hard by the storm
  • Operated distribution centers and packaged emergency supplies for Sandy victims in need of food, water, blankets, clothing, toiletries, and other necessities
  • Canvassed neighborhoods to find people in need and spread information about repair work
  • Restored parks damaged by high winds 

NYRP clearing a downed tree in New York City 

AmeriCorps NCCC/FEMA Corps members assisting with water distribution in Far Rockaway, NY.

Get more pictures and more information on the recovery efforts and Corpsmember experiences

Student Conservation Association (SCA) Corpsmember in New Jersey

Southwest Conservation Corps members working with FDNY

Utah Conservation Corps members surrounded by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy 

Green City Force Corpsmembers and staff serving food 

Montana Conservation Corps members organize supplies at a distribution center

New Jersey Youth Corps clearing a downed tree