Fact Sheet: USA Freedom Corps: Fostering a Culture of Service, Citizenship and Responsibility
- Today in Philadelphia President Bush announced that through the new USA Freedom Corps and its web site (www.usafreedomcorps.gov), all Americans can keep a record of their experiences and hours in volunteer service on-line or in a printed journal. The call to service is not a federal mandate, but a profound individual commitment, and the online Record of Service and printed Record of Service will allow individuals to track their progress in meeting that commitment.
- President Bush announced that he has directed his Cabinet to report back to him within 30 days on ways their Departments and Agencies can contribute to service opportunities for all Americans. The directive is part of his USA Freedom Corps initiative to encourage and assist all Americans to answer the call to service, and asks the Cabinet Members to provide information to foster more service in America.
- The President also met with volunteers participating in a variety of service activities who are part of a longstanding American tradition of service and volunteerism for the public good.
Record of Service
- The online Record of Service is available at www.usafreedomcorps.gov, and allows individuals to log on with a unique user identity to keep an online journal with details about their experiences in volunteer service and their progress in meeting the President's call to service. The online tool is powered by Network for Good, an independent, 501(c)(3) organization that is a partnership of over 20 corporations, nonprofit foundations and associations seeking to foster the informed use of the Internet for civic participation and philanthropy.
- The Record of Service journal is also available online or by calling 1-877-USA-Corps. Individuals can use the Record of Service to keep a journal of their experiences in a book that includes research on service needs and opportunities, examples of service throughout history and quotes about the role of service in the lives of individuals and in American culture.
The President's Instructions to His Cabinet
President Bush also announced that he has directed the Members of his Cabinet to report back to him within 30 days on the ways their Departments and Agencies can contribute to service opportunities for all Americans. The directive is part of his USA Freedom Corps initiative to encourage and assist all Americans to answer the call to service, and asks the Cabinet Members to produce:
- A complete inventory of the service opportunities sponsored or administered by such departments or agencies, including a description of the extent to which the departments or agencies make the public aware of those opportunities; and
- A complete inventory of regulatory and programmatic barriers at the departments or agencies to community and other service by Americans. Such inventory shall also include recommendations as to how to modify or repeal such barriers in order to enhance service opportunities.
The Two-Year Call to Service
During his State of the Union address, President Bush called on all Americans to give at least two years of their lives'the equivalent of 4,000 hours'to the service of others. Today, he visited the People's Emergency Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and met with local volunteers to lead a conversation about service and the USA Freedom Corps initiative that he launched just over a month ago.
- The President's vision of the gathering momentum of millions of acts of compassion and kindness includes Americans in military and civilian service, Americans engaged in meeting local community and national needs, and Americans participating in service projects at home and abroad.
- Research indicates that approximately 44 percent of Americans are currently involved in volunteer activities, and that they serve an average of 185 hours annually (Source: Independent Sector).
- Since the President Launched the USA Freedom Corps initiative, the new web site has been visited more than 6.5 million times, more than 18,000 people have requested applications to the Peace Corps (an increase of 54 percent over the same period last year), applications to AmeriCorps programs are up nearly 50 percent, calls to the Senior Corps toll free number are up nearly 200 percent and visits to that web site are up 500 percent, and almost 20,000 people from all 50 states have signed up to participate in the new Citizen Corps effort.
Why the Call to Service?
Research on service participation indicates that asking Americans to serve makes a difference in whether they actually do so:
- Independent Sector reports that those who were asked to volunteer were much more likely to do so (63 percent) than were those who had not been asked (25 percent).
- According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement at the University of Maryland, most young volunteers say they got involved in service because they were asked. A new study from the center says: "Contrary to the conventional wisdom that young adults volunteer for selfish reasons or because they are required to do so by their school, most young adults (30%) say they volunteer because they were asked."
A History of Service
During his visit to Philadelphia today, President Bush met with volunteers participating in a variety of service activities who are part of a longstanding American tradition of service and volunteerism for the public good. The volunteers who joined him for a conversation on service include:
- A nurse who is on call at least two nights a week for emergency and disaster response teams for the American Red Cross;
- A high school senior who created a literacy program at age 13 that has served over 300 young people;
- A new AmeriCorps volunteer involved in service learning activities for youth;
- A returned Peace Corps volunteer who at 66 years old is involved in the AmeriCorps program at home;
- A father and husband who is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War and now dedicates one weekend each month to service in the U.S. Army Reserve;
- The director of the University of Pennsylvania's highly regarded campus outreach and service learning center; and
- The President and CEO of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
These volunteers are part of a tradition of service that has been particularly strong in Philadelphia since our Nation's founding. In the 1730s, Benjamin Franklin helped found a library, a volunteer fire company, and a variety of volunteer groups for civic improvements (such as paving, cleaning and lighting the streets of Philadelphia). In 1751, he helped found the Pennsylvania Hospital and the academy that became the University of Pennsylvania. Benjamin Rush, also a signer of the Declaration of Independence, organized several volunteer public health efforts, including Philadelphia's successful response to the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.
George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: USA Freedom Corps: Fostering a Culture of Service, Citizenship and Responsibility Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/279594