Fact Sheet: President Bush Celebrates USA Freedom Corps One-Year Anniversary
President Bush Celebrates USA Freedom Corps One-Year Anniversary Announces New Presidential Council and Spells Out State of the Union Compassion Agenda
"Last year, I called on my fellow citizens to participate in the USA Freedom Corps ... Tonight I ask Congress and the American people to focus the spirit of service and the resources of government on the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens - boys and girls trying to grow up without guidance and attention, and children who have to go through a prison gate to be hugged by their mom or dad." - President George W. Bush, 2003 State of the Union
Today's Presidential Action
- President Bush joined young people, their mentors and teachers, and leaders of volunteer service organizations to celebrate the first anniversary of the USA Freedom Corps - his initiative to engage all Americans in service to their neighbors and their Nation.
- Following up on his State of the Union address, the President also laid out his vision for two programs that will use almost half a billion dollars over the next three years to match disadvantaged children with caring mentors who can help them find hope and opportunity.
- The President announced that he is forming a new President's Council on Service and Citizenship, and introduced the first members of the council, charging them with leading a massive nationwide effort to recognize the dedicated service of Americans and to engage more individuals in volunteer service.
New Ways to Make a Difference
- To mobilize individuals to meet pressing community needs around the country, the USA Freedom Corps will begin focusing on some of the needs that can be uniquely addressed through volunteer time and talents. Each calendar quarter, the USA Freedom Corps will offer research, toolkits, and other information regarding one "volunteer service action priority," and will announce new and expanded efforts by the agencies that are a part of the USA Freedom Corps to enhance volunteer efforts in that area. The 2003 priorities include: youth achievement, parks and open spaces, healthy communities, and homeland security.
- The first area of need to be addressed in 2003 is youth achievement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2001), one out of every ten children in America is at great risk of failure because he or she experiences four or more factors that adversely influence their future prospects, such as: not living with two parents, having an underemployed parent, living below the poverty line, having a parent or guardian who is a high school dropout, not having health insurance, and/or receiving welfare benefits. Any one risk factor increases the likelihood of negative outcomes for children, but the presence of four or more places the child at a tremendous risk of failure. The Census Bureau has identified 7.1 million children who fall into this high-risk category.
- Research shows that having a mentor decreases the likelihood that disadvantaged youth will engage in violent behavior and drug use, while improving the chances that they will attend school regularly and improve academically. According to MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, 2.5 million young people in the United States are enjoying mentoring relationships with caring adult volunteers. Unfortunately, millions more disadvantaged young people have not found mentors.
More Than One Million New Mentors
- To offer more of these disadvantaged youth access to a mentor, the President announced that he will support new mentoring opportunities by investing $450 million in federal funds over the next three years in the nonprofit, community, and faith-based organizations that train volunteer mentors and pair them with youth in need. Today he shared the details of how those funds will be spent to offer young people hope and opportunity.
- The President announced that he will invest $300 million over three years in a program at the U.S. Department of Education to support the development, expansion, and strengthening of exemplary mentoring programs targeted at disadvantaged middle school students in order to cultivate mentors for these young people. These new funds will be used as grants to nationally-affiliated youth-serving organizations, independent community and faith-based organizations, and local education agencies that will link one million students with disadvantaged backgrounds to adult mentors through school-based programs. The program will build on the Mentoring for Success Act passed as an amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
- Through a new program, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help more than 100,000 children of prisoners between the ages of 10 and 14 over the next three years to find an adult mentor. They will work with the U.S. Department of Justice and a network of other agencies with a budget of $150 million over three years to offer grants to nationally-affiliated youth serving programs, as well as independent community and faith-based organizations, to support school and community-based mentoring programs. The program will further the goals of the Safe and Stable Families Amendment of 2001, which called for the expansion of services to strengthen families, including creating and expanding mentoring programs for these children through networks of community organizations, including religious organizations.
- Grantees of both programs must fulfill the essential features of successful mentoring programs: screening and matchmaking, orientation and training, and ongoing support and supervision. And the grantees will be rigorously evaluated according to their outcomes both in terms of inputs (volunteer hours, youth served) and outcomes for youth (academic achievement, school attendance, juvenile crime, and the avoidance of risky behaviors, such as substance abuse).
Engaging Millions - the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation
- President Bush announced that he has formed a new President's Council on Service and Civic Participation modeled on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and introduced the first members of the 25-member council who include: entertainers, athletes, retired elected officials, business and media leaders, leaders of nonprofit and volunteer service organizations, and community volunteers.
- The council members will work with a small professional staff. Darrell Green, former Washington Redskins cornerback, will serve as the chair of the council, and retired Senator Robert Dole and retired Senator John Glenn will serve as honorary co-chairs of the council.
- The council will oversee the creation of a nationwide recognition program called the President's Volunteer Service Awards. The awards will be given to millions of individuals engaged in a variety of volunteer services who have made a sustained commitment to service over the course of a one year period.
- Youth can earn a President's Volunteer Service Award by serving 50 or more hours a year, while adults can earn the award by serving 100 or more hours in a year. President's Volunteer Service Awards will also be available for families, for individuals who have served more than 4,000 hours since the President's call to service in 2002, and community-serving groups. Organizations such as businesses and schools will be eligible to receive awards on the basis of supporting a large number of their employees or members in receiving the individual President's Volunteer Service Awards.
- The awards will be available in the spring of this year, and will be used to recognize the dedication of those who earn them and to celebrate excellence in volunteering.
A Year of Accomplishment
- In July, President Bush launched the USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network - the largest clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities ever created. It includes millions of opportunities to work with more than 60,000 organizations in all 50 United States and around the world. At the same time, he unveiled public service announcements that send viewers to the network. An estimated 2.7 million people will search for ways to get involved through the USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network during its first year of operation.
- When President Bush issued his call to service last year, there was no nationwide measure of volunteer behavior to use for setting goals and standards for the USA Freedom Corps. Working with the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the USA Freedom Corps has helped to develop a new measure of volunteer behavior based upon a massive nationwide sample that includes 120,000 individuals 16 and older. The results of the first survey tell us that more than one in four Americans - 59.1 million people - volunteered their time through a local organization between September 2001 and September 2002.
- In the past year the national service programs that are part of the USA Freedom Corps have touched millions of lives at home and abroad. 6,678 Peace Corps volunteers worked in 70 developing countries around the world.
- The Peace Corps opened or re-opened programs in countries such as East Timor, Peru, Bangladesh, Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and 38 countries have requested Peace Corps volunteers.
- AmeriCorps members taught and tutored hundreds of thousands of students, maintained thousands of miles of trails, collected hundreds of tons of trash, and immunized thousands of children.
- More than 500,000 Senior Corps members gave more than 100,000 children preschool and daycare services, collaborated with hundreds of police and community safety organizations, participated in thousands of environmental education programs, and supported other seniors and adults in need of long-term care with meals and other services.
- Since the launch of the USA Freedom Corps, interest in all of these programs has grown significantly:
- The AmeriCorps program filled its enrollment goals faster than ever before and measures of online applications show a more than 60 percent increase.
- Demand for information on Senior Corps programs for Americans age 55 and over is also up.
- More than 115,000 potential Peace Corps volunteers requested applications in 2002, a more than 30 percent increase over 2001.
- The new Citizen Corps launched in 2002 is already supporting local volunteer efforts that help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.
- More than 300 Citizen Corps Councils of first responder, local government officials, and volunteer service organizations are up and running around the country.
- Almost all 50 U.S. states and territories are supporting state or territory-wide Citizen Corps Councils. Volunteers are working with police departments through more than 320 Volunteers in Police Service programs.
- Doctors and nurses are joining Medical Reserve Corps units across the country.
- The number of registered Neighborhood Watch groups has more than doubled.
- Twice as many individuals have been trained to teach emergency response skills through Community Emergency Response Teams.
- Businesses and schools are engaging employees, customers and students in volunteer service. More than 160 businesses and business organizations that employ more than 2 million individuals have joined Business Strengthening America, and thousands of K-12 schools and after-school programs are using resources such as the USA Freedom Corps' Students in Service to America guide and materials to engage young people in developing lifelong habits of service.
- To help our young people develop a better understanding of our democratic traditions and institutions, and create a better informed and more involved citizenry, the USA Freedom Corps has helped to create new "We The People" and "Our Documents" initiatives, and will host a White House Forum on American History, Civics, and Service in February 2003.
For more information on today's Presidential Action items or on the USA Freedom Corps, please visit www.usafreedomcorps.gov .
George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: President Bush Celebrates USA Freedom Corps One-Year Anniversary Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/280647