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About Senior Corps 
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Hurricane Volunteer Support Fund
In the wake of the recent hurricanes, the Corporation is coordinating volunteers to assist with repair and relief efforts in areas affected by this devastating storm. Your donation will support volunteers in providing food and shelter, managing donations, helping victims get necessary assistance, and long-term rebuilding efforts.
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USA Freedom Corps Partnering to Answer the President’s Call to Service
 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 01, 2005

U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Baton Rouge, LA

   

Universities Rebuilding America Partnership – Remarks Prepared For Delivery By Secretary Alphonso Jackson

 

Thank you Sean for that kind introduction. First, let me extend my thanks to the Chancellor, our gracious host this afternoon.

I would also like to thank LSU, Southern University and all of the Ameri-corps volunteers for joining us today.

Thank you for all of the compassion and care displayed after Hurricane Katrina. Student bodies, faculty and administration of both universities opened up their doors and their hearts to those displaced by the hurricane. For that, I truly commend your efforts.

It is a pleasure to be here at LSU. I enjoy speaking on college campuses, because I am always inspired to hear from, learn from, and talk to the students that will shape America’s future.

Today is no different. I am here to talk about the challenges of today and about your role in meeting those challenges. Because how we meet the challenges of today will determine the future – the future of many of our brothers and sisters who were made homeless by the hurricanes.

When I was a young man; when I was a college student, I was a part of one of this nation’s great challenges, and great opportunities. I was a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of you are too young to remember what that time was like in America. It was a time of great struggle, great worry, great division, but also a time of great hope.

It was an era when troops had to be called in just to ensure that black children could go to school with white children. It was an era when people that marched for basic civil rights had dogs turned loose upon them. It was an era of division, an era of anger, and an era of fear.

Yet as I said, it was also a time of great hope. And as a college student I studied to make myself a better person, to build a better future. But I also believed that as a student at that time I could be part of the Civil Rights Movement; I believed that I could contribute, I believed that I could make a difference.

You may not recognize it; but this is a similar time, a day of great challenge and also great possibility.

The Hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast have done greater damage than any natural disaster that I have seen in my lifetime. They have done terrible physical damage that we have all seen. They have inflicted substantial economic damage that we have all heard about. They have, terribly, inflicted a great loss of life, that I know we have all prayed about. And perhaps most damaging of all, the Hurricanes have inflicted on many people a spiritual damage, the wound of not knowing what kind of nation we are, or will be.

So the Hurricanes have presented us with a great challenge. Well, this is what I believe about great challenges. I believe that great nations meet great challenges with their greatest resources. And I believe that you; you as individuals, you as members of a student body, you as members of the faculty; I believe that you are one of our nation’s greatest resources. The intellectual talent in the faculties of American colleges and Universities is the best in the world. The energy and imagination of American students is unparalleled. And the compassion, and courage, with which Americans pull together to help one another in a time of crisis makes us; well, it is exactly that which makes us Americans.

That is why today I have come here to LSU to launch the Universities Rebuilding America Partnership. Working together with the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is launching the Universities Rebuilding America Partnership to inspire and to empower students and faculty across the country to become involved in the rebuilding process in the Gulf.

I want to tell you about three aspects of the Partnership, and my friend David Eisner, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, he will tell you more as well.

First, today I am launching a $2 Million Dollar Community Design Grant Program. In this program, HUD will give grants of up to $300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand) dollars to schools of architecture, planning, and construction. Those schools will partner with communities that have been affected by the Hurricanes, and will help those communities to design, and ultimately rebuild, stronger communities.

HUD has moved rapidly to create this new Federal grant program, and we ask our University partners to move rapidly in their response. We will keep the grant application period open for thirty days. That is not a lot of time, but as we have worked swiftly, we expect that you will work swiftly as well, for our aim is to have this money in the hands of Universities for work to begin this very next semester.

As many of you know, Congress also grants funds to HUD to be distributed to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Well, we have decided to direct that money, and more importantly, to direct the tremendous talent that we have in our HBCUs; to direct that money and that talent to rebuilding communities. So as part of the URAP program, I am today announcing the availability of $3.6 Million Dollars that will be distributed in grants of up to $350,000 (Three Hundred Fifty Thousand) to Historically Black Colleges and Universities that partner with affected communities in the Gulf. We make these funds available for HBCUs to provide essential and vital services. Just as the need is wide, we have written the grants to be flexible. HBCUs might provide legal services, small business services, nursing services, counseling services; in short, they can involve their students and their faculties in providing those services where they have expertise, and where communities have needs.

Finally, I want to announce today the Universities Rebuilding America Partnership, Honor Roll and Presidential Awards program. Already I have seen across the country the tremendous energy and enthusiasm of student volunteers, and college and University programs, to help their neighbors in the wake of the Hurricanes. Our Honor Roll and Presidential Awards program is intended to recognize the work that colleges and Universities have done, and, it is also intended to inspire more great volunteer work.

The Honor Roll awards will recognize College and University efforts to respond to the Hurricane, while the Presidential Awards will recognize those colleges and Universities that make truly extraordinary efforts to mobilize their students, engage their faculties, and rebuild this country.

My friend David Eisner will provide with you more details about the work that we are doing to encourage and empower volunteer efforts. I simply want to say, that the time is now. Now is the time to volunteer.

And if I could, I would like to finish with one final thought. You all have many demands upon your time. I understand that. I respect that. I too have lived that. Yet let me offer you this one piece of personal advice, or perhaps it is simply a personal reflection. If, in all your years at college, you study one hour more, it is unlikely that you will remember that hour. If, in all your years at college, you spend one hour more talking on the phone, or surfing the internet, it is unlikely that you will cherish it. If, in all your years at college, you spend one hour more wondering about your future, it is unlikely that it will change the direction of your life. But I can tell you this, If, in your years at college, you find the time to dedicate your hands, your mind, your heart, and your soul, to meeting the challenges of this nation, I can tell you that you will remember every hour, cherish every minute, and that, in service to others, you will be building a stronger land for all Americans.

It’s an honor to be working with you all as part of the Universities Rebuilding America Partnership.

Thank you very much.

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