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Press Release - Renewing America's Civic Purpose

September 11, 2008

Building On His Long Commitment To Expanding National Service, John McCain Is Proposing A Service To America Initiative. As President,John McCain will create a Service to America initiative to strengthen the teaching and understanding of American history, culture and core ideas, and to inspire Americans to serve causes greater than their own self interest. Civic participation by citizens over a lifetime, working in neighborhoods and communities, and service of all kinds -- military and civilian; full-time or part-time; and national or international -- can renew America's civic purpose and heal our fractured patriotism.

John McCain's Record Of Supporting Service To Our Nation

  • John McCain Was An Original Cosponsor With Sen. Bayh (D-IN) Of The Bipartisan National Call To Service Act That Established A National Service Plan With Incentives To Enlist In The Armed Forces. Under the plan, participants must meet all eligibility requirements for military service and may choose one of the following incentives: $5,000, payable after completing 18 months of active duty; and 18 months of reserve service; repayment of student loans up to $18,000; educational allowance at the Montgomery GI Bill monthly rate for one year; or educational allowance of one-half of the GI Bill monthly rate for three years. The bill also expanded volunteer opportunities in civilian organizations, including AmeriCorps. John McCain reintroduced the civilian components with Sens. Bayh, Kennedy and Mikulski in 2003, after the military service component became law in 2002.
  • John McCain Sponsored The Troops-to-Teachers Improvement Act. The Act strengthened and extended the Troops-to-Teachers Program encouraging retired military personnel to become teachers, particularly in schools located in disadvantaged or rural areas facing a shortage of teachers.

John McCain Issues A New Call To Service -- The Service To America Initiative


  • Bolster volunteerism with an energetic and comprehensive national service initiative designed to increase opportunities for people willing to serve their communities and their country.
  • Ensure coordination of all service efforts across the federal government and make certain that all these service programs are effective and on equal footing.
  • Convene "Volunteerism Summits" so people can share with others the best ideas and most effective programs currently underway in their own communities.
  • Increase focus of our volunteers on urgent situations such as the high school dropout crisis and job retraining.
  • Boost opportunities for service overseas to increase understanding and communication among diverse cultures.
  • Create opportunities for families to spend service opportunities together at home and abroad.
  • Increase service opportunities for the disabled community.
  • Coordinate a network of private sector "venture capital" funds matched with government grants to support job retraining or vocational training efforts in high schools and targeted communities where job loss persists.
  • Allow faith-based organizations to improve their volunteerism numbers by allowing them to hire consistent with the views of the respective organization without risking federal funding.

Utilize The Wisdom And Experience Of Our Retirees And Veterans

  • With Boomers entering the retirement ranks, provide more opportunities to senior Americans by expanding SeniorCorps with a focus on mentoring at risk students, assisting community-based homeland security programs, and overseas teaching of American history to bridge cultural divides.
  • Develop opportunities for returning veterans to reintegrate immediately through a civilian service opportunity and continue to serve their country upon returning home.

A Call To Service Is A Call To Educate

  • Engage more college students in community service through the Federal Work-Study program; current law only requires seven percent of recipients to perform community service.
  • Engage Americans in disaster preparedness and response by providing education and training resources for effective community-based efforts.
  • Use AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps volunteers as tutors and mentors to address the high school dropout crisis in America.
  • Create a realistic teaching certification requirement for outstanding individuals with years of service and work so they have the opportunity to tutor or teach without jumping through unreasonable bureaucratic hoops.
  • Strengthen the teaching of American history and civics education through volunteers in our communities and schools who are able to tutor and teach with a teaching certificate equivalency.

In The United States Senate, John McCain Is An Original Cosponsor Of The Hatch-Kennedy Service Bill That Includes:

  • Service Learning: Authorizes new grant program to make direct competitive grants to eligible partnerships to carry out service-learning programs with disengaged youth in secondary schools and authorizes the Corporation for National Service to designate up 20 institutions each year as "Campuses of Service." While the grants authorized under this section come directly from the Corporation to the recipients, state service commissions and departments of education are listed as eligible applicants, allowing state agencies to compete alongside school district partnerships.
  • Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Establishes a "Commission on Cross-Sector Solutions to America's Problems," Community Solutions Funds and Innovation Fellowships.
  • Service Corps: Directs the Corporation to establish new accounts to fund grant programs including Education Corps, Community Health Access Corps, Clean Energy Corps, Opportunity Corps and Reserve Corps.
  • Civic Health Index: The Corporation will establish a "Civic Health Index" and will provide data on the progress and effectiveness of various civic programs and initiatives.
  • Serve America And Encore Fellowships: Serve America Fellowships are administered almost entirely at the state level, allowing the states to continue to be laboratories of innovation for volunteer service programs. Eligible organizations also include faith-based organizations. Encore Fellowships provide another incentive to Baby Boomers to utilize their experience in the volunteer sector. Reports indicate that the transferrable education award is a significant incentive for potential participants.
  • Volunteer Generation Fund: Directs the Corporation to award competitive 3-5 year grants to support the recruitment, management, and training of volunteers to carry out activities benefitting low-income individuals.VGF will increase the capacity of smaller groups, including churches and faith-based organizations, to engage more Americans in helping their communities.
  • International Programs: The bill will improve upon and expand the existing Volunteers for Prosperity Program, providing opportunities for international volunteer service. The bill will expand the Peace Corps, allowing for the improvement of its long-standing mission to provide service in developing countries.

John McCain, Press Release - Renewing America's Civic Purpose Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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