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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
Wednesday, November 30, 2005

CONTACT: Sandy Scott
Phone: 202-606-6724
Email: [email protected]

   

Remarks to Media on Youth Helping America Study – David Eisner, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service

 

Thanks Desiree, and welcome, everyone. I’m David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. On behalf of the Corporation and our partners – the U.S. Census Bureau and the nonprofit coalition Independent Sector – I’m very excited to be presenting the results of the first federal survey of youth volunteering in a decade. I’m especially excited because the survey, and the Corporation’s new report based on that survey – titled “Youth Helping America” – show that a culture of service has taken root among America’s youth.

The survey reveals that 55 percent of young people ages 12 to 18 – about 15.5 million teenagers — are actively giving back to their communities. In fact, the teen volunteer rate of 55 percent is nearly twice the adult rate. At a time when many people are worried that the United States is experiencing a general decline in civic and political engagement, the high rate of volunteering among today’s youth counters that notion and is extremely positive news for our nation as we look to build a culture of citizenship to meet the many challenges that lie ahead.

Part of what makes this survey special is its design. The survey questions closely parallel the questions used in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual Current Population Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. And the “universe” from which respondents were selected comprised households that had recently completed the Current Population Survey and had indicated some level of family volunteering. As such, the new survey sets a good baseline for future studies and for direct comparisons with adult volunteering.

Another aspect of what makes this survey special is its results. The analysis clearly demonstrates that young people are giving back to their communities in a big way – that as we reach out to help America’s youth, youth are also helping America. The analysis also shows that the social institutions of family, school, religious organizations, and youth leadership organizations such as Scouts and 4H are key factors in determining levels of volunteering – and that the strength of teens’ ties to each of those social institutions relates directly to the intensity of their volunteering.

Because the Corporation administers the Learn and Serve America program – which this week is celebrating its 15th anniversary – I want to make special note of the role that service through schools plays in building citizens and helping students succeed academically. The survey found that approximately 10.6 million youth – or 38 percent of the youth population – have engaged in community service as part of a school activity. And much of that has to do with the rapid spread of service-learning in elementary and secondary schools over the past several decades.

Service-learning through the schools does several things. It helps students succeed academically. Indeed, the study shows that those students who volunteer do better in school than their counterparts who don’t volunteer. And, school service helps build a broader culture of service, with students taking interest in their communities. Tellingly, as only 5 percent of youth attributed their volunteer activities to a school requirement.

The study also shows that the social institutions of family and religion are critical factors in predicting not only whether youth will volunteer, but also the extent of their commitment to volunteering. For example, youth from families where at least one parent volunteers are almost twice as likely to volunteer as youth with no family members who volunteer, and youth who attend religious services regularly are one and a half times more likely to volunteer than those who do not attend religious services. In short, the Corporation’s analysis suggests that fostering environments that encourage volunteer activities among youth is critical to creating a commitment to service and community. That means doing more to spread service-learning and family volunteering, two areas of particular interest to the Corporation. We know that volunteering is closely related to other forms of civic engagement, and the more youth learn to interact with their community, the more they develop the skills and sense of empowerment necessary to become lifelong active citizens.

At this time, I’d be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

(Click here to read Sayle’s remarks)

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