Champions of Change: AmeriCorps Alumni


Uploaded by whitehouse on 18.08.2012

Transcript:
Victoria McCullough: All right.
We're going to actually start.
I hope the breakouts went really well.
Lunch was good.
And we're going to get started with the, really,
what I feel like is sort of the highlight of our office,
and I think one of the programs that we're probably proudest of
at the Office of Public Engagement,
and that's the White House Champions of Change event.
And today we're honoring you guys for,
and hopefully highlighting much of the work that you guys are
doing, and I want to tell you a little bit about the Champions
of Change event just so you kind of understand how it has evolved
because it's actually crazy.
I remember the first one we held a year,
it was almost a year and a half ago and I believe it was I think
it was Peace Corps Alums, it was our very first one.
And the idea behind it was that we have a mix of like all of the
crazy things that are happening and sometimes negative things
that are in the media, that there are so many really awesome
and very positive things happening across the country.
And that the White House could really use its spotlight,
its ability to convene people by shining,
using that spotlight and shining it and lifting up the work that
was happening on the ground.
So the whole idea was really to get outside the beltway and
really reach and lift up local leaders like you guys.
And I feel like out of all of -- we have done so many Champions
of Change from folks who are working on breast cancer
awareness to anyone who is working renewable energy and
doing really cool things around that, to folks who work in
STEM education.
It runs the gamut.
But I, really, after hearing all your stories today, I know that,
I mean, you guys are really exactly the definition of
Champions of Change for us.
And so I want to, I want to actually turn it over to Matt
McCabe who is going to come up.
And I want to also, behind Matt McCabe,
hopefully invite all of our Champions up to the stage now.
(applause)
Matt McCabe: Hello!
How are you doing?
Audience: Great!
Matt McCabe: All right.
What a great day!
First off, just thank you so much for making your way
to D.C. here.
I know people came from all over the country.
I've just had a fantastic time so far today hearing your
stories and hearing what you do all over the country.
My name is Matthew McCabe, I have the honor of serving as one
of the CNCS board members and overseeing the work that many of
you do through AmeriCorps under different service programs
across the country.
I was also in a 2009 Teach for America Corps Member in Chicago
where I taught third grade.
And then now sophomore world history at Pritzker College Prep
on the west side of Chicago.
Like many of you I have seen the power of service firsthand.
I would like to tell you about one of my students.
I'll call him Jay for now.
So Jay came into high school from a troubled home,
well behind grade level in both reading and math.
And through incredible work ethic and intense focus,
Jay was able to kind of beat the odds.
You know, he was enrolled in AP classes and passed the test.
He studied abroad at different colleges and universities over
the summer taking university-level courses.
And this past summer he was -- or, excuse me, past spring,
he was admitted to multiple top American universities with
full-ride scholarships and he will be attending one of them
in the fall.
And at first Jay's story seems very remarkable.
And to be truthful with you, it is.
But once you look a little bit closer,
things get a little bit more clear.
When you realize that Jay in his freshman year and sophomore year
was tutored by AmeriCorps corps members.
And when you realize his school guidance counselor was also an
AmeriCorps corps member.
And when you realize that he rode the bus alongside City Year
corps members.
And when he was taught by more than a dozen Teach for America
corps members and alumni, Jay's story is still remarkable.
But it's a little less surprising.
And I think it's a testament to service that or this shows the
power of service, the ability to change the direction of a
child's life for the better.
So each one of those who lifted Jay along the way is truly a
champion of service as a testament to the power of
service to the strength of communities and build a brighter
future for our country.
And I have the great pleasure today to introduce to you 12
more Champions of Change.
They hail from all across the country but are united in their
answer to the call of service.
They're individuals whose collective work and efforts have
made their communities stronger, healthier, more educated,
more engaged and more prosperous.
So it's my privilege so introduce them to you today.
We have Seth Marbin, who is a training specialist at Google.
Shonak Patel, who is the Cofounder and Business
Development Lead at Gather Education.
Noelle Ito, who is the Director of Community and Philanthropy at
Asian Americans-Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.
Christine Riley, who is the Director for Corporate Social
Responsibility at the Dunkin Donuts & Baskin Robbins
Community Foundation.
Nicole Trimble, who is the Director of Corporate and Social
Responsibility at Red Box and Coinstar.
Morgan Tracey, who is an Olympic athlete in the Skeleton Event.
John Fetterman, who is the Mayor in the City of
Braddock, Pennsylvania.
Delores Morton, who is the President of Programs for Points
of Light Foundation.
Dr. Sharon Wagner, Professor of Energy and Economics at the
University of Maine.
Marissa Castro Mikoy, who is the Director of Operations and
Evaluation at the Teaching Trust.
And Rhonda Ulmer, who is the Founding Director of University
for Parents.
Let's give them a round of applause.
(applause)
So with that it's my great privilege again to turn it over
to Bill Basl, the Director of AmeriCorps.
(applause)
Bill Basl: Well, good afternoon again, everyone.
It's so great to see all of you here.
And I'm reflecting back on that AmeriCorps pledge that most of
you took maybe just a year ago.
When I look at this group it's probably just a year ago.
But it could have been two or three years ago.
Four years ago, five years ago.
We'll stop right there.
(laughter)
But in that pledge, you said something to the effect I will
get things done for America.
And that wasn't meant to be for one year or two years.
But it was meant to be a lifetime.
And so today with these Champions we are honoring their
commitment over a lifetime to get things done for America.
This morning when Wendy was talking about the billion hours
of service that people have provided,
people like you and others who are not here,
I was thinking that it is the billion hours that you have
given but it is also the multiple billions of hours that
are yet to give.
And so it's just not an investment of what people do in
AmeriCorps in one year or two years, but it's over a lifetime.
And that's what we're also here to honor today.
One of the challenges that I see for National Service and one
that I think we can deliver on is how National Service brings
the country together.
National Service bringing the country together now.
And if you look at what we do, certainly the broader public
sees us doing things in disasters when everyone
comes together.
It makes no difference where you are or who you look like or
where you were born or if you are in a red state or a blue
state or no state at all, you're accepted.
You serve.
You serve in these major disasters.
Whether it was in Joplin or Katrina, people want to serve.
And I submit that when you see that everyone is coming together
that that is what happens every day when AmeriCorps members
are deployed.
They deal with disasters that occur in the classroom,
on the playground, at the food bank,
at the domestic violence shelter.
You are dealing with those disasters every day.
And that's what will bring America together.
It's this type of effort where people step forward and make
a contribution.
It's interesting here that we're at the White House and for those
of you who heard this, what I'm about to say about a significant
person who is in this complex, you can't kind of give the punch
line away, but 18 years ago this month next week was the very
first convocation of AmeriCorps grantees ever, 18 years ago.
And there was a person in this complex who not only gave one
workshop on nonprofit capability,
but we had this person give two workshops on
nonprofit capability.
Any guesses as to who that person was who gave not one,
but two workshops 18 years ago on nonprofit capability at the
very first AmeriCorps conference?
Any guesses?
Someone who is in this complex.
Audience Member: One of the Obamas?
Bill Basl: Well, you have got to pick one!
(laughter)
Audience Member: Are they in it right now?
Or just were here --
Bill Basl: Pardon me?
Audience Member: Are they in it right now?
Or they just worked here --
(laughter)
Bill Basl: You can't -- it's someone that's in this complex who gave two
workshops at the very first AmeriCorps conference 18
years ago.
Audience Member: (inaudible)
Bill Basl: No.
Audience Member: Michelle Obama?
Bill Basl: Someone has to say it so I can --
Audience Member: Michelle Obama.
Bill Basl: All right, stand up so everyone can hear it.
Audience Member: Michelle Obama.
Bill Basl: Correct!
Michelle Obama.
(applause)
Eighteen years ago a person by the name of Michelle Obama,
Executive Director of Public Allies,
we asked her to give two workshops.
Who would ever have thought that we would have her give two
workshops on this whole idea of AmeriCorps,
this whole new idea on national service.
So I think it's quite ironic that we're back here, 18 years,
in Washington, D.C., to recognize these Champions
of Change who have made such a difference in National Service.
It's kind of nostalgic for me because as I said earlier this
is the end of my fifth week on the job and it couldn't be a
more fitting end to the fifth week.
But one of the things that I reflect on is that I was also a
Champion of Change last year, last June,
for working on a project that enabled veterans to serve again
in National Service in AmeriCorps.
And it is probably one of the most heartfelt experiences of my
life enabling veterans to be able to serve the country one
more time and to do it with honor.
And I think that I recognize all of you in this audience for
enabling others to serve because there can be no better way of
enabling folks to step up and fulfill the dreams of what this
country has to offer than inviting people to serve.
And so that's the most important lesson I hope that we all take
from this is inviting more people to serve and recognizing
those who make that step forward.
What I want to do now is introduce a person who is going
to moderate this panel, Jonathan Greenblatt.
Jonathan is the Special Assistant to the President and
the Director of the Office of Social Innovation and
Civic Participation.
And he is a person that is a real strong advocate for
National Service.
I met him about three years ago and I could tell right away that
he was a person who was going to make this major
contribution for us.
And he's the person who stands for us here at the White House
for National Service.
So I wanted Jonathan to come forward and then I'm going to
introduce our special guest.
Jonathan.
(applause)
So our special guest, Tim Morehouse.
Tim is an Olympic Silver Medalist in fencing and he is a
two-time U.S. Individual National Champion,
seven-time World Cup Medalist, and Number 1 Ranked U.S. Men's
Saber Fencer from 2008 to 2011.
This might be the first time you meet a fencer.
(laughter)
Tim is here.
He is a three-time Olympic Team Member.
And Tim also was a member of the Olympic team in the London
Olympic Games.
But what makes Tim so unique and so special to us today is that
he served through and worked with Teach for America while he
pursued his Olympic dreams, first as an AmeriCorps Teach for
America member, teaching seventh grade students in the Washington
Heights neighborhood of New York City.
And then later as a staff member at Teach for America,
training and mentoring teachers in the East Bronx.
Tim continues to inspire and lift up others.
Last year Tim founded the Fencing in the School
Foundation, a nonprofit program dedicated to bringing the sport
of fencing to underserved communities
throughout the country.
And he has shared his Olympic story of passion and persistence
with young people nationwide.
So will you please help me recognize Tim Morehouse.
And we welcome him, Tim Morehouse,
AmeriCorps Teach for America.
(applause)
Tim Morehouse: Thank you.
Well, I have to say the only thing when you introduce someone
at the White House is be careful of the special guest.
Because people are, like, is President Obama coming?
Like, no, it's just Tim Morehouse, an Olympian.
(laughter)
So it's hard to follow that one.
So I just got back two days ago from the Olympics.
I'm a little bit under the weather but before I even start
I met someone this morning that I am like there is always people
that put things in perspective for you.
And I just want to highlight them really quickly.
So, Rhonda, sitting right here, just wave,
please don't stand up, she is a three-time cancer survivor.
And not just that, this morning with the heat she had a little
problem, she actually fainted and an ambulance came up and
they wanted to take her to the hospital and she refused because
she wanted to be here today with us.
So please give her a round of applause.
(applause)
And you're going to hold on to this while I'm speaking because
you deserve that.
Not only did she refuse to go to the hospital,
but she actually somehow got into this room before the rest
of us who were coming in which was like amazing,
so give it up for her because she can pull off some stuff I
don't even know about.
(applause)
So, you know, just a couple of days ago I was at the closing
ceremonies, just finished competing in my third game and
I'm surrounded by all these Olympians and just thinking
about all the amazing people that are around me and their
stories and how they got here and, you know,
what can top that?
And, you know, hearing guys this morning,
I think I am equally as inspired if not more so,
because you guys have stories not just about struggles that
you came through personally to achieve something,
but struggles that you went through to help then someone
else get through struggles to achieve something.
And I think you guys all deserve a round of applause because you
guys are heroes and everything in my book as well,
so please give yourselves a round of applause.
(applause)
I think often the stories that we need to hear don't always get
told as loudly as some of the other stories in our country.
And I know I feel that personally because I am an
Olympian and I have this Teach for America experience and
usually the Teach for America part of my life which is just as
big as my Olympic part of my life,
I worked for three years as a teacher and four years on staff
and the last four years I have been speaking to kids across the
country, it gets a little bit of lip service here and there,
but it's mostly about, you know, my Olympic career and, you know,
what's the Olympic Village like and all these kind of stories
that are fun to hear but for our country's sake, you know,
we have a lot of work to do and there are a lot of people
doing great stuff.
And so that's why I feel just as honored being here in this room
with you all and to be able to share my story as a Teach for
America Alum and corps member, because that part of my life is
so important to me.
And I think perhaps my greatest contribution has been as an
AmeriCorps Alum and as a Teach for America Alum.
So it's really great to be here.
We have a saying in the Olympic movement,
which is "Once an Olympian, always an Olympian."
And I think it's very apropos for all of us in this room as
well as AmeriCorps alum, because it's not,
the Olympics isn't just about the act of going and
being there.
It's a lifestyle.
It's a set of values.
And I think the same thing with AmeriCorps.
We all joined AmeriCorps and we all continue to work because
we're passionate about helping people,
we want to see our country improve,
we want to work really hard and we want to face down the
challenges that face us and overcome them.
And so I think as an Olympian I stand here as a proud Olympian
but also a proud alum of the AmeriCorps program.
And so as an Olympian and as a Teach for America person,
my Teach for America people right there -- wave --
So as she said, we're very goal oriented.
So I have two goals in talking to you guys today and sharing
my story.
The first is that we all will recruit someone in the next week
to join AmeriCorps.
(laughter)
And I have already selected my person.
So for me I'm going to say by the end of this presentation I'm
hoping they will apply to Teach for America.
So Katie Miller is a White House intern, Yale graduate,
is trying to figure out her life right now.
(applause)
So www.TeachForAmerica.org/Apply.
All right?
By the end of this presentation.
And you guys, hands off her, okay?
I don't want to hear you talking about any of your programs.
But if you're smart, you would, because I had a five-minute
conversation with her and I was sold.
So I grew up in Washington Heights.
And -- I had a second goal for you.
Oh, my second goal for you -- sorry about that --
is that with my story you will all even look at yourself as we
try to step up to a greater extent of what we're doing.
And I'm going to share a little bit of my story and why that
medal around Rhonda's neck is a silver and potentially
not a gold.
So I grew up in Washington Heights in the 1980s.
It was kind of a rough neighborhood at that time.
And the schools in my neighborhood were
really under performing.
Had a sort of reputation for not being great places.
And my mom searched far and wide to find a school for me to go to
because the schools in my neighborhood just weren't up to,
you know, people weren't even graduating middle school,
let alone high school.
So she found a great school for me in East Harlem.
And I went there.
It's called Central Park East.
And my entire elementary school career I spent at
Central Park East.
It was a great school in the '80s.
And around when I was 13 my family started doing a little
better and I started attending a very prestigious private school
called Riverdale Country School.
I was at that school that I really struggled,
even though I come from a strong public school and it took me a
really long time to sort of get going academically.
I almost failed out of the school.
I was getting C minuses my first few semesters there.
And by the time I went to college,
college was pretty easy.
I was actually worried about how hard college would be,
but I got to college and suddenly I was getting As and I
realized then that I sort of had this training that I got from
this school to be prepared to get As.
And it really dawned on me that it was more about the training
and the sort of the skills that I was taught that allowed me to
be a successful student, more than the fact that I was smart,
you know, when I was getting As in college or dumb when I was
getting Cs in middle school and high school which is what I
thought I was when I was getting Cs and Ds.
So I had this idea in mind that the education really mattered.
I was also very fortunate to have a lot of great teachers.
And this really happened with fencing.
In middle school, I saw a sign that said "Join the Fencing
"Team; Get Out of Gym."
(laughter)
And without knowing what fencing was,
I was having a hard time in PE with a PE teacher who was a
football coach and so I went to fencing,
and I joined fencing and I got out of gym and I actually cut
fencing like a lot after they put me on the roster.
I got a C plus in my first semester of fencing.
But the coach, Martin Schneider, really changed my life and he
really believed in me and really always taught me to pursue,
pursue as much as I could big things which in high school was
winning this tournament called the Marineck Invitational.
And at the time I thought it was like the height of what you
could achieve in fencing was this high school tournament.
So I guess I was wrong about that.
So at Brandeis, I wasn't recruited.
I was not a top fencer.
I was not a top prodigy, but the Brandeis coach again saw
something in me, recruited me to the school and it was a Division
3 school and by the time I was a sophomore I started really
beating some of the Division 1 athletes.
And so I got to my senior year of college,
and like all of you I am trying to figure out what am I going to
do with my life, I was, like, applying to law school,
but I had these kind of ideas in my head,
these great teachers that had really helped me and I also saw
that education mattered to me.
And the first time that I learned about Teach for America
I was driving in a car and Wendy Kopp, the Founder,
was on the radio.
And she was talking about the program.
And actually people were calling in and criticizing her.
And were saying, like, you want, like, improve the schools, like,
your program is crazy.
And, you know, and they were acting like solving education
inequality was really simple.
It was like we just need more money and make the class sizes
smaller and all this kind of stuff.
And what I heard, though, was here is someone who is actually
doing something and here are a bunch of people who are just
sort of easily criticizing but not actually getting stuff done.
And I said, I want to go to the person that is doing something.
So I applied to Teach for America.
And I got in, thankfully.
And I was placed in New York City.
And at the same time I decided I wanted to try to take a run at
the Olympics even though I was really far away from being
someone who could say that.
A lot of people told me I would have no chance of
making the team.
I had kind of an awkward style.
People made fun of me.
My move is called: "A Dog Peeing on a Fire Hydrant," actually.
So if you don't know much about fencing,
I hit people and my back leg comes up off the
ground like this.
And I got made fun of it for a long time.
(laughter)
So here I am in Washington.
I came back home to Washington Heights and I was with this
amazing group of people in Teach for America who were
so passionate.
So goal driven.
And just, when they told you, okay,
you're goal is going to be your kids are going to advance two
years in reading in one, you kind of look at them and go,
like, is that possible?
And even that thought of what's possible and that goal that you
set makes a huge difference.
And I remember one student I had, and I hate to tell, like,
the sort of one student story, because, you know,
I worked with 300 students and my goal was to help all of them
achieve, but I had a student Ricardo,
and I had taken my kids on a field trip to some of the
schools that were out there.
And I remember at one of the schools he said, you know,
there is no way I can go to this school --
I took him to Riverdale, where I went --
there's no way I can go to this school.
And I said, why not?
And he's like, I don't know.
He's like, how would I go here?
And I said -- and his grades at the time were like Cs,
really a bright kid, though, but getting Cs in all of his
classes, I said, if you improve your grades I will help you
apply to this school and help you to a place where you might
be able to get in.
And even just him finally setting that goal and seeing
something he wanted and feeling it was real,
all his grades improved.
I can't claim any credit for the fact that his math grades
improved or his science grades improved.
I taught seventh grade social studies.
In my first year I was actually way behind in my curriculum,
I taught, like, the First Americans for, like,
two months and then I realized how much I had to cover.
And that was a bad moment.
If you've taught, you know about this.
(laughter)
So, you know, he really turned it around.
We applied for his program prep for prep,
and he came very close to getting into that program and
helped kids get in private school.
He actually didn't get in but even just that act of him seeing
that he can get that close I think really changed him.
And I think the goals we set are so important.
So while I was trying to teach my students to shoot for more I
decided, well, I'm really going to go for this,
try for the Athens games, and my goal was to make the Athens
Olympics which I did while training,
training full time and teaching seventh grade full time from
2000 to 2004.
I do not recommend doing this if you want to make an
Olympic team.
So I made the '04 team.
Our team finished fourth.
And I really realized, well, my goal was just to make the team,
why hadn't it been to, like, help win a medal?
I feel like I wasn't really helping my team to win a medal.
Because my goal had just been to make the team.
So after Athens, I came back and I was working at Teach for
America and my goal was, like, let's win a medal at the
Beijing games.
So we trained really hard.
I was working 70 hours a week at Teach for America training
teachers, flying to Europe, most of our competitions in fencing
are in Europe, so we're flying back and forth.
Like I'm doing work on the phone and again I do not recommend
doing this to you all, and I made the Beijing team.
And we went to the Olympics.
And I remember in the match to make the finals, when we won,
I actually fainted because I had worked so hard,
I saw my teammate, we won it in the team relay.
So I started running, when my teammate finally scored the
final point, we all, like, grabbed each other and I was
already unconscious.
(laughter)
And when my teammates broke away I actually just like went down
to the ground and they, like, piled on top of me and like
didn't even know I was unconscious.
(laughter)
And, you know, like, "Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero"
was playing, like this amazing moment that you have dreamed of
like your whole life is happening.
And we got up and we were crying and like hugging mom --
I think my mom is watching this stream, by the way, so, hi, mom.
And you know, as we're doing this the French team who had won
to make the gold medal round also like walked by all calm
and prepared.
And we all looked at each other, like, man,
our goal had just been to win a medal.
And it hadn't been to actually win the gold.
So we celebrated this moment that was just a little bit too
short of where our goal should have been.
(laughter)
And in the Gold Medal Round we did not do well.
We kind of had exhausted ourselves and we trained only
for, you know, a really high point but not quite high enough.
So the one lesson I took from that is you always have to try
to make sure you are setting your vision as high and as far
as you can.
It doesn't guarantee you are going to reach that.
I just came back from the Olympics, we finished 8th,
but I am really proud of the way I went into that game because I
was open to winning the gold.
And when I look at the last four years of my life having that
sort of approach from what happened in Beijing, you know,
I won the most amount of tournaments that I have,
I finally was like Number 1 in the U.S.,
where I had been like Number 2 or Number 3 for a long time.
So I think it really does make a difference, like,
where you set the bar and not just for your students but also
for yourself, your organization, and how far you think you
can take it.
And sometimes that stuff creeps up on you.
Sometimes if you are not setting really tangible goals you might
realize you are driving towards something that is maybe lower
than is even possible for you.
So it's an honor just to be here with you guys.
I hope you enjoyed my story a little bit.
But, truly, for me to be in a room with people who are making
such a big difference, facing so many challenges in doing that,
I just couldn't be prouder to be a Teach for America Alum and
AmeriCorps Alum with all of you guys.
So thank you, so much.
(applause)
Now we'll see if I succeeded or not.
Are you applying to teach for America?
Katie Miller: I may apply.
Tim Morehouse: She may apply.
I still have some work to do but I will turn it over to our
panelists and I will be over there in the corner.
Thank you.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Thank you.
Thank you, so much.
(applause)
Tim Morehouse is definitely a Champion of Change.
So thank you.
What an amazing treat.
Not often that you can hear an Olympian.
And I love the jacket, by the way.
My wife thinks that you guys were the best outfitted team far
and away in London.
So, that's great.
So, you know, from an athlete in the Olympics,
to sort of athletes here, but I actually think that's right.
Because as you all know, sort of AmeriCorps works at every day
24/7 solving some of the toughest problems that we're
facing in this country.
And I think the panel today is going to talk a little bit about
the sort of what and where technology and philanthropy are
coming together again to try to address some of these
persistent problems.
And we are fortunate that it represents, I think,
in many ways, the diversity of AmeriCorps and the diversity
of experiences that AmeriCorps can lead to.
So I'm going to let each of the panelists speak for themselves.
I'm just going to take the liberty of introducing them
quickly to all of you.
So immediately to my left we have Seth Marbin who is a
Training Specialist at Google.
Next to him we have Shonak Patel who is the Cofounder and
the Business Development Leader at gather education.
We have Noelle Ito in the middle.
She is the Director of Community Philanthropy for Asian American
and Pacific Islanders and Philanthropy.
Rounding it out over here we have Christine Riley,
who is the Director of CSR at the Dunkin Donuts & Baskin
Robbins Community Foundation.
There is a rumor that you're going to have sort of treats
outside, is that correct, for everyone?
Christine Riley: Oh, no, I'm not.
Jonathan Greenblatt: And last we have Nicole Trimble,
who is the Director of CSR with Red Box Coinstar who I had the
privilege of spending a bit of time with this past year at
the National Conference on Volunteering and Service and
look forward to hearing from her.
Why don't we get started here and I think all of our panelists
today will talk a little bit about the impact of service on
themselves and on their communities and as well about
how indeed your AmeriCorps experience prepared you for the
path you are on right now.
So, Seth, maybe you could kick it off and talk a little bit
about Google for nonprofits and how the AmeriCorps experience
helped you prepare for that.
Seth Marbin: Yeah, absolutely.
So I served for the first time with the Youth Volunteer
Corps in Corvallis, Oregon, that's the town where I grew up.
And had an opportunity to, among other things,
help organize a skateboard competition with a group of
youth who I found were a lot less at risk when they were
actually getting involved in organizing something for
the community.
I then did a couple years of college and decided I really
wanted to do AmeriCorps again, because while my first
experience was good, I felt like there was a lot more that I had
to offer and a lot more I had to learn.
So after a couple years in the classroom, I decided to go be a
student of life again and do that through service.
And I believe strongly in the motto of service learning and
how it's really transformational for both the person serving as
well as the community they are serving.
So I went to Puerto Rico as a VISTA,
and I went there with the idea of helping to start a
literacy program.
And the literacy program after about a month of making very
little headway, a major hurricane hit the island,
and we all of a sudden had to put everything on hold and do
disaster relief.
So I was there for a few months.
Everything from translating in shelters for people who were
doing family services with the Red Cross to bottling water,
and found that when it came time to getting back to doing
literacy that people were much more interested in getting roofs
back over their heads than they were in setting up literacy.
So I ended up exiting out of that program a little bit early
so that I could go to City Year.
And City Year was my third AmeriCorps experience.
I was in City Year Seattle, and I actually stayed on with City
Year for a few years.
But City Year was really where I sort of had each of these
previous AmeriCorps experiences, and when I came to City Year it
was sort of like, wow, this is what I believe is the potential
of AmeriCorps that I've been looking for.
So things that really worked for me about it were it was team
based, and it was about breaking down social barriers.
And so while we were out there serving the community,
we were also learning about each other and developing
lifelong friendships.
I met some of my best friends through City Year and
through AmeriCorps.
I met my wife through City Year.
So for me it's been both transformational on the personal
level of just thinking about how I can create change
in the world.
And so my role now at Google, you know,
fast forward several years later,
what I do at Google is I help employees get involved in
their communities.
And so the path for me was really sort of through City
Year, and the idea that community change has to be a
public-private partnership, and it has to be a partnership
between the nonprofits and the for-profits.
And having had the experience of being at City Year,
I stayed on for a few years of staff and helped oversee some of
our AmeriCorps members there.
And, you know, having had that experience,
I realized that in order to leverage the resources that were
in the private sector, I had to go and actually what I describe
as infiltrate the corporate world.
So I moved to a company who I thought values were aligned with
mine and one that had the potential for really sort of
global impact.
And Google at the time was about 7,000 employees.
We've grown significantly since then and really sort of --
I've been there about six years and really just as a side job
started to help employees get involved in the community.
Because there's a lot of passion and a lot of alignment.
We have Teach for America alums, we have AmeriCorps alums,
we have Peace Corps alums who all work at Google.
But beyond that, we just have people who want to be involved
in their community and want to make a difference and want to
realize that there's a lot that we can each do.
And so that's what I'm up to now is helping employees get
involved in the community and helping to really change and
make the world a better place from the corporate perspective.
And, you know, Archimedes said, give me a lever long enough and
a place to stand, and I'll move the world.
And, you know, in many ways AmeriCorps was that place to
stand for me for a number of years.
Google is now that place to stand for me.
And I realize that, you know, that with Google as a megaphone
and with the power of the resources that we bring to bear,
we have this great opportunity to make a difference.
So I want to encourage all of you to really think about how
you can partner with all of the businesses in your community
and how you -- in a lot of ways I used to think when I was in
City Year, when I was in other AmeriCorps programs,
that really the nonprofits had this lock on doing social good
and it was the company that were doing all the bad that we were
trying to combat, and in a lot of ways I realized that it has
to be a partnership among everybody involved,
including government, nonprofits, and for-profits.
Asim Mishra: That's great, Seth.
Thank you very much.
So, Shonak, tell us a little bit, if you would,
about your transition from corporate finance into the world
of sort of, say, social impact and specifically how your
AmeriCorps experience hopes to animate the entrepreneur work
you do now.
Shonak Patel: Yeah.
So, yeah, I took a different route into service.
It was always something I wanted to do.
Basically I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and educators,
and I had a lot of great opportunities growing up
learning, and just a lot of great teachers,
a lot of great experiences that kind of made me who I was.
I went to Babson College, which is known for entrepreneurship,
always had an eye on social entrepreneurship.
Interestingly enough, I had the choice between going to do
service and then going to get a job after school,
and I took the job per my family's recommendation.
And it turned out to be, in my opinion --
Asim Mishra: Blame it on your family.
(laughter)
Shonak Patel: Yeah.
Turned out to be the right move.
So what I ended up doing is I ended up working for four years
in real estate finance, and I was doing international
real estate.
We were buying up German grocery stores.
(laughter)
Yeah, so it was really interesting.
It was a great experience.
I got to travel.
I got to kind of understand how to execute from a business side
all the stuff that was going on basically with the
economic crisis.
And I saw the rise and fall, which was a tremendous
experience, just learning experience.
I didn't contribute to it, though.
And 2009 came around and I kind of saw this void.
I just, you know, I was getting --
I was moving up in my role, and things were going pretty well,
but I wanted to go back to that original ambition to go
kind of serve.
And I looked at Peace Corps, and then I thought time was right to
do it now and do it here in this country.
So I left my job.
I just quit my job and then was looking at
different opportunities.
And one of my friends said, hey, you should go down in
New Orleans.
They are doing a lot of cool stuff around social innovation.
So I looked into it and talked to a friend of a friend,
and it all happened very quickly.
I finished my job in June and found an AmeriCorps position in
July that basically started in August.
And so what I did was I joined the Louisiana Delta Service
Corps, and I was placed with an organization called New Orleans
Neighborhood Development Collaborative.
And basically I was doing a lot of community development and
community revitalization work.
And it was a lot of, it was an experience that was just full of
a lot of diversity.
I mean, I was doing some kind of indirect programmatic stuff,
leveraging kind of my background in real estate and transactional
work to kind of figure out optimal financing models,
blending together different pools of money,
and then I'd go spend my afternoon out in the
neighborhood and talking to residents and kind of
understanding issues that were going on around everything from,
you know, food access to crime to violence.
And the experience is incredible.
So what did it teach me?
I think the thing it taught me the most was to learn to ask the
right questions.
And this now I'm transitioning into kind of what I do now which
is I'm living my dream of being an entrepreneur.
So I think it's really, really important to ask the right
questions and know who you're serving and how you're
serving them.
I think as it relates to service and businesses,
I think the best businesses and the best solutions in general
are created around serving specific constituency.
And you can only serve them well if you are listening to them.
And so people ask me, because I'm in technology now,
they ask me, do you program?
And I say, no.
I listen.
That's my job.
I listen and I kind of tweak the solution that I've created to
better serve the population I'm serving.
So I left -- the big thing I realized being in New Orleans,
and I was working in Central City,
which is a fairly underserved neighborhood,
so I saw a lot of issues.
And I think the big thing I saw that it kind of all pointed back
to was all these issuing around kind of access to healthy foods,
education, poverty, violence, all these things.
They all pointed back to, again, my thing I started with was I
had a lot of opportunities to learn and grow.
People in this neighborhood did not.
And that was something I think, and the solution I saw was,
okay, what if we made education, educational opportunities,
not just inside the classroom, outside, more accessible?
And that's what I kept going back to.
And I view technology as a way to enable this once I came out
of AmeriCorps.
So I went back to Boston, co-founded an education
fundraising startup that was called SWELLR that was basically
under the, helping public school teachers raise money for
classroom needs by channeling a portion of our everyday
spending, dining and shopping towards specific
classroom needs.
Sixteen months later I couldn't make that into a commercially
viable business, but learned a lot of great lessons from trying
and failing.
And what I learned from that is, do not fear failure,
fear the status quo.
And I wrote this in the blog post that I think is going out,
but that's a really important thing that I think we're
all good at.
We're all really good at that.
So now with Gather Education, we're basically trying to make
online learning more engaging, more simple, and more natural,
and all together more accessible to people everywhere.
And that's -- I'm really focused on kind of leveraging technology
as a tool to improve access.
And I'm a big believer in entrepreneurship.
I'm a big believer in taking your ideas and putting
them to work.
And I think what AmeriCorps trains you for is doing.
It's action, so.
Asim Mishra: That's great.
Awesome.
Noelle, tell us a little about your experience, if you would,
in terms of your summer service, how you work with AAPIP Giving
Circles has sort of influenced on the things you're doing now.
Noelle Ito: Definitely.
So my experience with AmeriCorps was actually in my senior year
of college.
I was going to George Washington University just down the street
here and kind of always knew that I wanted to go
into service.
I never really thought I could make a career of it.
And so I was working with an after school program that has
since changed its name in D.C., and was working with youth on a
day-to-day basis, and kind of came into the realization that I
wasn't really cut out for working with youth like
in that way.
(laughter)
Not because I didn't love it.
I loved working with the kids, but just the thought of,
you know, where are they going to be in five years
just really got to me.
So I really hand it to all the teachers and all the Teach for
America folks that are here just because it was a really tough
thing to go through everyday.
You know, I'm working with this kid on a daily basis.
It's great.
Where are they going to be?
Are they going to remember these lessons?
And so I actually had the realization that not everybody
has to be on the front lines, that I could actually raise
money and, you know, work on the admin side of nonprofits and
really make an impact there.
So I actually took a career in development and fundraising and
worked for a lot of different nonprofits across the nation,
small ones, big ones, national.
And really I think what I was really interested in is really
getting youth engaged.
And whether it's in service or giving, I just really felt like
people needed to get engaged and involved in their communities.
And I felt very lucky to have that experience
through AmeriCorps.
So currently what I'm doing is I'm working for Asian Americans
Pacific Islanders and Philanthropy.
It's a very long name.
AAPIP for short.
And what we're trying to do is bring people together through
social networks, through book clubs,
through any way that they are already congregating and
basically get them to pull their money together and their
resources and give back to the community.
So it's very similar to what a lot of you guys are doing,
you know, really thinking about your services.
What if you added another element?
What if everybody gave as well?
And we're not talking about millions of dollars.
We're talking about what if every person in this
room gave $25?
And we all came together and we discussed, you know,
what we wanted to give to, what we're passionate about.
And just that dialogue alone really sparks an interest and
gets people engaged in volunteering and continuing in
some capacity.
So we are actually working on growing a national Giving
Circle movement.
So I think I learned actually a lot through AmeriCorps about
building a movement, being part of a movement and a
national project.
And so what we're trying to do is to link Giving Circles in the
Asian American community across the country to fill a need that
isn't being addressed right now.
There are many Asian American causes out there that are
severely underfunded.
They might not be 501C3s, and they are struggling to kind of
keep the doors open and provide services for their communities.
So we're giving people the tools to really start these circles,
helping them get started, think about fun ways to do it,
and you know really thinking about how do you keep people
engaged, how do you do it in a fun way.
We're always stressing that we're not here to build another
nonprofit, we're not here to build another foundation,
but that we're really -- it's a grassroots movement.
And so what can we do with that?
So through that, we've actually grown 20 Giving Circles across
the nation.
And it's just been a really incredible learning
experience for me.
I think one of the things that AmeriCorps did was expose me to
so many different communities that I would have never been
exposed to if it wasn't for those opportunities.
And the same thing with the giving circle movement is that,
you know, being Japanese American from Los Angeles is a
very different experience from being in the Hmong community
in Wisconsin.
And so it's really opened my eyes to the different struggles
and the different immigration patterns and what that's meant
for different communities.
Asim Mishra: Marvelous.
Very neat.
Christine, talk to us about how your AmeriCorps experience in
New Hampshire has influenced and affected the way you're thinking
about your career and the work you're doing at Dunkin' around
sustainability and green buildings.
Christine Riley: Sure.
So I joined AmeriCorps a long time ago, 1995,
with the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program in New
Hampshire working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence
in the court system, and then I joined the AmeriCorps Leaders
Program, which I don't believe exists any longer,
and I was placed with the Louisiana Delta Service Corps.
I like to think I paved the way for Shonak to be successful back
in 1996.
(laughter)
Twelve years earlier.
But for me I think looking at -- I had a similar realization that
Noelle did.
When I was working with individuals every single day in
the court system and thinking, this is great that I'm helping
this one person, but are there ways that we can help
people on a more systemic basis?
I give a lot of credit, likewise,
to folks who can work every day on that frontline and can deal
with some of the traumas you deal with when you're working
with people in crisis.
And it wasn't the right fit for me,
but I still wanted to be able to support folks in a more
systemic way.
And I always thought I would go into nonprofits,
and I worked in nonprofits for a long time.
I worked with Jump Start.
I know there's someone here from Jump Start.
I was the director of corporate relations.
And it was through that experience that I started
thinking, there is this really nice opportunity to bring
together the resources of the private sector to support the
efforts of the public and nonprofit sector,
and what can I do to really work in a space where those two
come together.
And I've been fortunate enough to work with Dunkin' brands.
And my job is director of corporate social responsibility.
And as part of that, I get the nice opportunity of running a
nonprofit, the Dunkin' Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community
Foundation, which is a fundraising and grant making
organization, as well as Jonathan said to work on our
sustainability efforts.
And the most important lesson that I learned from working with
AmeriCorps is that you can't get anything done in a silo.
And so when you come into a company and you're looking at
how do I, I am one person with, you know, two team members,
one who works on the foundation and one who works on
sustainability, and I have all of these issues that face our
company from Styrofoam cups to the environmental impacts to
employee engagement, to fundraising and grant making for
a multimillion dollar nonprofit.
How do you get things done?
And you can't do it on your own.
So I think the value for me of all of my AmeriCorps experience
was how do you identify what those resources are?
How do you build relationships very quickly?
How do you sell them into ideas that might be new?
So when you're talking about volunteerism,
you know, that's great.
I know you're all really, really busy,
but wouldn't you love to spend an extra 20 hours a week
organizing a fundraising event so you can do local grant making
in your communities?
Or I know that you're super, super busy doing all sorts of
things that, you know, help our franchisees be profitable,
but wouldn't you also like to look at things like,
how are we going to recycle the foam cup in our stores?
So trying to understand how you bring people into that space
that maybe isn't part of their everyday life was something that
I feel was a valuable lesson for me across my entire
AmeriCorps experience.
And I definitely would not have developed the skills to,
I think, build relationships of trust across multiple different
sectors if I hadn't had that AmeriCorps experience.
Asim Mishra: That's great.
Awesome.
Thank you.
Nicole, you are also, I think, someone who was with AmeriCorps
early on.
Nicole Trimble: Very early.
(laughter)
Asim Mishra: Pardon?
Nicole Trimble: Do I look like that?
(laughter)
Asim Mishra: No, I just have the notes.
I wasn't implying anything.
Talk a little bit about again -- how it served as a platform for
your career.
And I'd also be interested, because I know you serve on the
Washington State Commission -- isn't there somebody involved in
the Washington State Commission also here today?
Nicole Trimble: Somebody -- well, he used to be involved, but...
Asim Mishra: Bill Basl you know intimately.
We'll hear stories about Bill later actually,
in the after hours.
But could you tell us a little about how that worked too?
Nicole Trimble: Yeah, yeah.
So, yes, so I actually served my first term before AmeriCorps,
the original AmeriCorps legislation was signed.
I was a Jesuit volunteer, and that was the year that the
legislation was signed, and they were looking for folks to come
back and join the first cadre of AmeriCorps leaders.
And we can't believe we've never met because we kind of have the
same life, but -- very similar.
But why I did that in the first place is that, you know,
quite honestly, I had the privilege of traveling and fell
in love with my own country.
Traveling around fell in love with my own country,
and realized I love this country enough that I want to come back
and help solve problems that I knew existed but that I didn't
know well, because I grew up in suburban Ohio.
And so I wanted to see another part of the country,
get to know another population, become an informed citizen,
which I really knew I wasn't.
And that's why I believe service is so important.
If we want an active informed democracy, people have to serve.
They have to get outside of what they know and meet other people.
And they need to be served.
It's reciprocity.
And so I did this because I love my country and because I wanted
to know community.
And those lessons really have been the platform in that as I
work in business now, if you look at anything that you're
doing in business, if it's a Red Box DVD or coffee,
you need to create a product, an experience that people love
and will use.
And you can't create products and experiences for people
unless you know people and you know populations.
And, you know, the thing about Red Box, it's a dollar,
or now it's a little more than a dollar,
there's people all over the country,
all different demographic levels who use this.
And I feel like I have an opportunity to be a bridge
within my company of this is what's really going on in
communities outside of our own, and these are our consumers,
and this is why we should really care, and this is our country.
And I feel like an incredible honor that I get to do this work
and work for a company that really cares.
And my AmeriCorps service set me up for that.
The work in the commission is interesting.
I don't even think it's been a year, has it?
But I've been working with the commission in so many different
ways throughout the years, and it's my honor to serve as a
volunteer commissioner and help continue to spread AmeriCorps
throughout the State of Washington.
And it was an honor to work with Bill.
And it's part of my responsibility,
as well, for sure.
Asim Mishra: That's great.
Thank you.
So we don't have that much time, but I want to make sure we open
it up for the audience if anyone has questions.
I will ask you if you do to sort of self identify,
tell us what AmeriCorps program you're with.
or I will call on you.
(laughter)
Over here in the back, can you tell us your name
and what group you're with?
Mary Bruce: Hi, I'm Mary Bruce.
I work at Civic Enterprises with Grad Nation campaign and also
proudly serve with Ben on the National Advisory Council.
And my question to you all is how can AmeriCorps alums as an
institution do a better job of connecting each other?
I think there are so many amazing --
I didn't know we had an Olympian who was an AmeriCorps alum.
(laughter)
That's awesome.
I didn't know we had all these alums working in
corporate philanthropy.
How do we do a better job of connecting each other locally
and across the country?
Asim Mishra: Great.
So I'm going to ask, if I might, you guys to think about your
responses as lightning round, because again we don't have
that much time.
Nicole Trimble: I love lightning round.
Asim Mishra: So what can AmeriCorps alums do better to connect the community?
Seth Marbin: I think telling the story is what's the theme of today is we
have to be able to tell the story.
So profiling the people who are doing the interesting things.
I mean, everybody here has a story to tell.
You're here because you've done a year of service and you're
continuing on doing great things.
So, to me, it's about telling the stories and I think
technology is a powerful way to do that.
We have a platform for video, online video, that helps make
that possible.
(laughter)
Shonak Patel: I heard rumors.
Seth Marbin: I heard there are some other companies out there that do
as well, but...
Asim Mishra: Well, actually, let's ask, so is there an AmeriCorps alumni
YouTube channel?
Audience Member: Yes.
Asim Mishra: How many of you knew about that?
Three.
Is there an AmeriCorps alums tumbler page?
There's a lot that we can do to get the story out.
Other ideas?
Shonak Patel: Yeah, I think one of the things we talked about earlier is you
have so much energy and kind of knowledge of the problems that
you're solving at the ground level after you finish your
service experience that I think programs and things like
incubators and accelerators, and I think, Ben,
you've been working on like Fuse Corps or something like that.
I think that's a really powerful, powerful thing to
extend the service experience and then provide resources,
not just capital but mentorship, access to companies like Google
and Dunkin' and Coinstar.
I think that is a real interesting way to kind of keep
that momentum going towards implementing solutions into
the communities.
Because you get such a great knowledge of what the problems
are that it almost potentially could go to waste without
actually taking action on it immediately and putting some of
those ideas to work.
Asim Mishra: Any other quick responses?
Noelle Ito: I would say make it easy to engage.
Because a lot of us are super, super busy in the jobs
that we do.
And for me, I'm not at all involved with the Boston or
Massachusetts chapter.
I confess and it's partly because I don't know how and
it's not, it doesn't feel easy to do that.
Asim Mishra: Great.
So make it easy, use technology, and find ways to bring
them together.
Any other questions, thoughts, reactions?
Over here?
Audience Member: I'm with the Chicago chapter.
Asim Mishra: Tell us your name and which group you're with.
Audience Member: I'm sorry.
I (inaudible) Chicago chapter.
For those of you that are now in the corporate world,
how can alums that want to get into the corporate world,
how can they market their skills to apply on their resume so that
we can be looked at and people can say, oh, this is an
AmeriCorps alum.
They are coming in with these special skills and we want them
at our company.
Asim Mishra: Good question.
Nicole Trimble: Well, first I want to put it in perspective.
It's not even 20 years old.
So one of the things that's happening that I'm noticing is
that AmeriCorps alums are getting into decision making
positions within companies and in HR units.
And so word is rippling.
So I think that's one thing just to keep in perspective that I
think more and more people definitely know.
But it's about translating the language.
So community organizing is facilitating constituents or
consumers, right.
It's about translating the language.
It's spin.
I mean that's what it is.
And an idea came out today that I thought was fabulous.
Find a mentor.
I think that's something that AmeriCorps alums
could really do.
I'd be happy, and I've done it probably for dozens and dozens
of AmeriCorps members, to sit with their resume and help you
play that spin translation game.
Because I know the lexicon for both worlds and it's hard
sometimes to do both.
Asim Mishra: Great point.
Christine Riley: Yeah, I would say make sure that you talk a lot about
quantitative impacts, quantitative success.
I think a lot of us in the service community like to talk
about our qualitative stories and the feel good things,
but that doesn't necessarily translate all the time to the
corporate environment, and it's really, what are the
quantitative impacts that you've had.
And I could not agree more with Nicole.
You have tremendous skills that you just need to figure out how
to translate that into language that's going to resonate with
the corporate environment.
Asim Mishra: Seth, anything?
Seth Marbin: Yeah, if I could add.
So, I think you all are here because you took a step off the
beaten path.
AmeriCorps is still not necessarily the conventional
path out of school or as a bridge between school.
And so thinking about your career path from here on out,
continue to think along those lines.
I didn't come to Google in a social responsibility role.
I came to Google on a technology role because I wanted to get a
foot in the door and I wanted to understand our core business.
And then I knew that I wanted to leverage my AmeriCorps
experience and to leverage Google's resources for
social good.
But I first stepped in to learn the core business.
And that was, you know, I've been there for six years,
and there wasn't a job that I applied for.
I had to create a job doing what I loved.
And, you know, in many ways you all have already been
doing that.
You've stepped off the beaten path.
But, you know, I meet with dozens of people a month who
want to work in social responsibility,
and there just aren't that many jobs until we go out there and
create them.
And we teach the value of, this is -- you know,
you can enter a company or an organization that you want to
work in with the experience that you bring and bring that with
you and then create the job that you want.
Asim Mishra: So I'm going to use my sort of moderator's prerogative test to
ask one last question of the group.
So the President thinks of you as sort of the frontline --
thinks of all of you, to be clear; AmeriCorps --
as the frontline in this human capital strategy.
You are the folks on the ground in the schools, in cities,
and in rural environments, in tribal communities,
you are the ones who provide such critical services.
If he were here today, and you heard from John,
you heard from Macon, and you heard from Jack Lew --
Nicole Trimble: Is he coming?
Asim Mishra: The special guest might be the guy in the polo.
Best you're going to get is Tim over there in the polo outfit.
But if he were here, what's the one thing you would want
him to know?
Nicole Trimble: Hmm, lightning round that side.
Seth Marbin: I'd want him to know that this works.
That this is changing America.
That this is actually making our world a better place.
It's doing it through the individual stories.
It's doing it in the aggregate.
And we need to double down our investment in AmeriCorps.
We need to double down our investment in National Service
as a whole.
And we need to elevate the status of National Service to be
equivalent to military service.
We will have a stronger community and a
stronger country.
(applause)
Shonak Patel: Just to add to that, I mean, I think AmeriCorps is a breeding
ground for leaders of tomorrow, basically, in every sector,
and I completely agree in doubling down on the investment,
and I really do think it's a really important thing,
I think, to look at ways to carry that momentum after
the service, because I think -- I know starting these things and
implementing kind of systemic change is really all
about momentum.
And we need to figure out ways to support that and fund them.
Asim Mishra: Okay.
Noelle Ito: I'd say triple down, geez.
Asim Mishra: That was too easy.
You just...
Noelle Ito: I mean, we talk a lot at our office about building
democratic philanthropy.
And so, you know, it's great to have the White House
doing everything.
It's great to have corporations doing all that they can to feed
into the community.
But let's look within ourselves.
You know, let's all give.
Let's all get involved.
And let's think about what if all these little pieces come
together, just the ripple effect that would happen across
the nation.
So, just challenging everyone on that, yeah.
Christine Riley: I would say it breaks down barriers,
because it exposes you to individuals, communities,
and issues that you would never, ever experience potentially on
your daily life.
And I think that allows us to have a more meaningful
conversation about the issues that really face this country
and allow us to talk in a more meaningful way about the
solutions that might actually work,
and this group knows that better than anyone.
Asim Mishra: Great.
Nicole Trimble: It works.
It brings people together instead of divides people,
which is what we really need right now.
And it creates an informed citizenry,
who will never sit on the side lines again,
and we need more opportunities for people to serve.
Asim Mishra: Great.
All right, well let me just make one last sort of comment --
(applause)
So I think the work that all of you have done is so important,
so critical, and all of you whether it's been in schools or
it's been in all the different locales, the different places
that you've worked as AmeriCorps members is absolutely crucial.
What I want to say is I think your most important work is what
happens now.
So I'm looking at Ben, and I see Tom Brandon over
there from America Service Commissions.
You guys need to think about how to make it as easy as possible,
and I know you're working on that.
The reason why that's important is your job has just begun.
Because whether it's saying that it breaks down barrier or you're
building a momentum or it's a breeding ground or leadership,
basically that it works, like Nicole said.
The President believes -- you had the First Lady at hello.
You know, in 1994, when as Bill said I think it was or Wendy
when she spoke at the first AmeriCorps workshop here in
D.C. as an executive with public allies,
nobody tells these stories, nobody speaks with more passion
and knowledge and authenticity than you.
And I don't think, although it is early days, as Nicole says,
I don't think any of us can take this for granted.
What's so special is that in this room today we need it not
to be preserved.
We need it to be doubled down, tripled down, quintupled,
and that can happen.
But your work has just begun.
AmeriCorps needs the AmeriCorps alums to be as active and
engaged as possible.
And although I wasn't thinking about it when Tim was saying his
goal is to recruit two people did you say?
So I think you two should have a bigger goal for yourselves.
Each of you should be ten people.
I don't necessarily mean to recruit,
but you need people in your communities to know what you did
and how it's helped to be a better successful corporate
executive, community organizer, high tech entrepreneur.
You need to tell those stories.
We need people to hear them in your towns and communities all
the way up to Capitol Hill.
So I'm not telling you what to do other than saying,
tell your stories.
It makes all of our jobs much easier,
and it's that magic ingredient than none of us can duplicate
here that all of you have.
That is, I think, the special sauce which will help AmeriCorps
to grow by orders of magnitude in the years to come.
So your job has just begun.
Take if seriously.
Ten people, that's what you need to do.
(applause)
Thank you, guys.
Let me thank, Ben, Bill, and everyone from AmeriCorps.
And, you know, let's get going with the next panel.
Victoria McCullough: All right, and then for our second moderator we have Asim
Mishra, who is the new, newly, right,
newly Chief of Staff to Wendy Spencer at CNCS.
So same welcome.
(applause)
Asim Mishra: Well, so thank you, and welcome everyone.
I guess you've been welcomed many times already.
My name is Asim Mishra, and I'm Chief of Staff at the
Corporation for National Community Service,
but the important thing is, is you guys -- Champions of Change.
And I do want to begin by telling you briefly my story
before I came to CNCS.
So, I myself was part of AmeriCorps.
How many of you have heard of Public Allies?
(cheers and applause)
How many allies in the house?
Yeah.
Good deal, good deal.
So I was part of Public Allies Chicago in 1997, '98,
and it was a powerful, powerful experience for me,
a life-changing experience for me.
And during that time I was doing a lot of HIV/AIDS education,
first aid CPR education, as well as disaster
prevention education.
I have a friend here in the audience, Thomas, who is a part,
who was a VISTA at the time, is that correct?
Audience Member: Yes.
Asim Mishra: So we were at the Red Cross serving together.
And besides, beyond the relationships,
the experience that you have when you're impacting the
community and yourself getting transformed,
that space is so special that it's just transformative.
And so it was an awesome experience for me,
life changing, and as you can see,
it's come full circle and I'm at the corporation now helping to
ensure, as Jonathan said, that the story is told about the
great work that we're doing in the community.
But I do want to shift it and talk about your work,
and your stories are trust tremendous and just so powerful.
I want the folks in the audience to really see the connection
between the public service that you're continuing to do and the
experience that you had through AmeriCorps yourself.
Many of you were in programs that were powered by AmeriCorps,
whether it was teach for America, or NCCC.
I think it's important to figure out how that space,
the space I talked about of community impact and of impact
on yourself as someone that is providing a service,
how that space is so powerful in gendering the kind of ethic that
you've had that's brought you here.
So, my first question I'd like to ask to Morgan, to you,
if we can go in order, you did NCCC, is that correct?
Morgan Tracey: Yes.
Asim Mishra: Where did you --
Morgan Tracey: Sacramento.
Asim Mishra: Sacramento.
Morgan Tracey: Anyone?
(applause)
Asim Mishra: I was just in Sacramento for a graduation.
It's an awesome, awesome experience to see the members
come out before graduation.
So, when you were there, what about that special space that
we're talking about that kind of,
that experience that you had in AmeriCorps that sometimes is
powerful, sometimes is kind of awkward, you know,
because you're like, what am I doing, how do I do this,
what about that experience informed your,
informs you as a leader today, your leadership style and your
role as leader today?
Morgan Tracey: Well, I think well, first I have to say,
I don't know where Tim is, but I am an Olympic hopeful
in skeleton.
Hopefully most of you know what that is.
Nobody knows, so.
It's an Olympic sport.
It's a winter sport.
It's on the bobsled track.
It's an iced track.
It's about a mile long.
But you're head first on your stomach on a single sled with no
brakes, just your toes, if you want to put them down,
but it slows you down, and you get going about 90 miles
per hour.
Asim Mishra: It's like AmeriCorps.
(laughter)
Morgan Tracey: It is, right.
It is a lot, yeah.
There's actually a lot more similarities than I first
thought, I guess, getting out of AmeriCorps.
One was when I got into AmeriCorps,
I was from a small town, went to kind of a small college,
and I got into AmeriCorps, and I thought, oh my gosh,
what am I in for?
So it kind of reminded me of the first time when you start
skeleton, they literally just push you off and say, hold on.
I was like, what?
You want to what?
And they're like, hold on.
I'm like, how are you driving?
They're like, don't worry about.
And like that's exactly how I felt when I came from this small
town, didn't even own a suitcase when I filled out
this application.
I thought I was going to law school right out of undergrad.
I said, I'm going to go to the law school,
I'm going to be partner by 27.
Mom is like, you know what, why don't you try something else?
You love volunteering.
You love serving.
Like everyone else here, why don't you try it on a
different level.
Sent in any application, didn't think I would get in.
Got in.
I was like, I have never even been on a plane.
I was like, what am I going to do?
So my mom drops me off at the airport.
I remember getting out in Sacramento,
and if you guys have been there, these huge round hay bails and
nothing else outside the airport.
I was like, oh, I am not in Ohio anymore.
(laughter)
So it was a lot of similarities with skeleton.
Just, okay, well, you know what, I'm dropped here.
I got to make the best of it.
Let's see what happens.
So just like my first skeleton ride, when I got to the bottom,
I was like, I'm hooked.
When I got to my first, my first AmeriCorps spike was in
Blythe, California.
I got down there and we did housing,
built houses for single families.
Most of them were migrant workers.
I had never used a hammer, nothing.
I remember the first piece of wood I cut, I had to cut twice.
I never listened to the, you know, measure twice, cut once.
I was like, it's fine.
I was like three feet off.
It was awful.
So, like that and with skeleton, I just kind of was like, okay,
I'm dropped here, I have to make the best of it.
And after that first spike, I was like I had the bug.
Like everybody else here, I had the service bug, and I thought,
okay, I'm going to continue doing this.
I'm going to tell people about AmeriCorps.
I'm going to try to learn everything I can,
take with me as many toolbox of skills and use it as much
as I could.
I'm sure like all of you I left with,
I came in with minimal skills -- you know, I went to college,
but that was about it -- and then left with so much
confidence, so much ability to problem solve, to make a plan,
make sure that it was carried out, goals, standards,
things like that.
With you know trying to be an Olympian,
I'm an Olympic hopeful, so 2014 Russia, 2018 South Korea.
(applause)
Make sure you guys watch.
I'd like to come back one day like Tim and give someone
my medal.
(laughter)
That's my hope.
So think fast thoughts.
But just like in AmeriCorps with doing this whole Olympic
adventure, there's goals, there's standards,
there's expectations, and I think I really learned those
in AmeriCorps.
Having to -- they gave us this plan that we had to,
this goal example was in Blythe.
Okay, you have these 12 houses, you have to get them built for
these people.
So, you know, we worked through all the different problems and
things that happened.
You know, people like myself cutting things too short and,
you know, things being a little crooked or off.
And then we had expectations, you know,
those families looking for those homes, expecting those homes,
you know, working next to us and beside us every day for those,
and then making sure that they were all, all those standards,
goals, expectations were all met.
So I, like everybody here has said how life changing
AmeriCorps is, I cannot say enough about how it's changing.
And for me I'm using the fact that I also did the wild
land firefighter.
So I was a wild land firefighter.
I learned that in AmeriCorps.
I would have never spent five years in a hot (inaudible) had
it not been for AmeriCorps.
In a story at Oregon, I worked with a community action group
where the CEO was an attorney.
I thought, okay, I'm going to law school,
just because of that one person.
So I went to law school.
And now this Olympic thing, I thought, okay, how can I --
I think Seth said it best -- like how can I use,
how can I be a microphone, how can I be a megaphone
for service?
And this is whether or not I make it to the games or not.
You know, I was worried about putting my service kind of on
hold, but my mom being right, as mothers mostly are, was like,
why don't you use it as a platform to tell people about
AmeriCorps, tell people about the service, tell people about,
you know, how these AmeriCorps programs can make you a better
leader, how you can help build communities,
how you can solve problems.
So that's kind of what I'm using for my,
how I got from AmeriCorps to this and how I don't have to be
serving in a -- you know, I love Teach for America,
I love all those things, but I don't have to be doing that and
neither -- you can find a different way to try to serve.
And so mine is to try to find, try to use this as a platform to
tell other people that all of these programs are out here.
And I feel like I almost got more than I'm giving.
Asim Mishra: Yeah, I mean, that usually is a statement that I hear from a lot
of AmeriCorps members.
Mayor Fetterman, I want to go to you really quickly.
How many know the mayor?
(applause)
I got to know the mayor from John Kelly who is a big fan.
I know John he's in the room.
But he talked up Braddock so much.
He was like, next time you're in Pittsburgh,
you got to go to Braddock.
But, Mayor, I want to ask you, were you originally --
did you serve in Braddock, Pennsylvania as an
AmeriCorps member?
John Fetterman: No.
I served in Pittsburgh, which it's fairly close,
but in the neighborhood known as the Hill District,
which from a socioeconomic background is very similar in
terms of a lot of the conditions that you would find there.
Asim Mishra: And so what, how did the story go from Pittsburgh to Braddock?
John Fetterman: Well, I did two years in the Hill District,
and this was in 1995 was my first year.
And I set up the first computer labs in the neighborhood.
And there was a lot of that Internet euphoria how it was
going to help change the world, and it's going to eliminate
poverty, and children are going to be able to, you know,
be able to study at home and go on the Internet and
all these things.
And I wasn't very optimistic back then of the promise there,
because I saw a lot of the conditions and the circumstances
that children and young adults and the community were
living in.
Then I went to graduate school in Boston,
and then from there I started, I actually went to Braddock to
kind of just disappear and just serve, basically.
I never expected that it would necessarily even take the route
of politics, but it's been a long strange trip, so.
(laughter)
Asim Mishra: Do you feel what you're doing in Braddock is politics?
John Fetterman: Well, I mean, it has that undeniable political vent.
I serve as a surrogate in Western Pennsylvania for
the campaign.
We are constantly under siege in the last year or so with budget
cuts driven by the other party that controls the
state legislature.
So invariably I'm in the political fray.
But it is very much also community service, as well.
And in a very real respect, I've actually never left AmeriCorps,
because -- you know, I'm well past that ambitious recruiting
goal for AmeriCorps, because my city in some respects helps run
on AmeriCorps.
We're fueled by it.
As I'm sitting here taking it easy,
AmeriCorps volunteers are helping get ready for our
community day, which is tomorrow.
So I have over 1,000 people coming out to that.
So the volunteers and the service that AmeriCorps delivers
really is one of the most important things that is driving
back from the brink of extinction, in some regards,
that our city has faced.
Asim Mishra: That's great.
Just commendable work that's going on there.
I love the fact that you feel that your community is being
fueled by AmeriCorps when we hope that's the case across the
nation and that that happens by us telling our stories and us
getting more funding for the great work that is going on in
places like Braddock.
John Fetterman: Well, and my message would be that, you know,
more of that is needed.
Braddock is part of a region of the state called the Mon Valley,
the Monongahela Valley, which once was incredibly prosperous,
incredibly wealthy.
Half the world's steel came from that region back post
World War II.
My community lost 90% of its residents, 90%.
So we went from a town of 20,000 to about 2,300.
And it's considered the poorest town in Allegheny County,
which comprises about 1.2 million people.
And I tell people it's like that line from, I forget which movie,
but it's like relax, you know, it's much worse than you think.
(laughter)
That there aren't two Americas.
There's more than that.
And Braddock is part of that ring that is frayed much worse
than other people realize.
And getting that message out that I think we're at a critical
juncture as a nation in terms of the dialogue where you have one
body of congress zeroing out AmeriCorps and you've got whole
sections of the country, like my city, that help depend,
to staff our playgrounds, to do major public works projects and
some of these other things that AmeriCorps brings to
our community.
And I think people, you know, have to kind of step back and
say, I think there's an important baseline here that we
cannot cross as a partisan society that National Service
should not be subjected to the political will, whims,
and it should just be understood,
as one of the speakers said, as part of unequivocably with
military service.
(applause)
And I would like to make one final point.
Seth from Google talked about corporate partnerships,
and I can't, I can't stress that enough.
Levi Strause, the jean company, approached our community in 2009
and made our community struggle kind of the center of their
marketing campaign.
And the resources that they channeled into our community
allowed us to build a community center,
create the first large scale playground,
and a lot of other things.
So corporate partnerships, whether it was Levis or other
philanthropic is, it's vital, it's necessary.
If you polled 100 people and think,
are government budgets going to become more or less generous in
the next five to ten years, I haven't met the one person that
thinks that they're going to become more generous.
And there's not really left anything to cut.
So the difference is going to have to come from somewhere.
And it's been augmented through AmeriCorps but also partnerships
with corporate.
And Seth, Google has an office in Pittsburgh,
I don't know where you're at.
You know, I drink coffee near the office all the time.
So we're open for business.
We'd love to have you.
(laughter)
But thank you.
Asim Mishra: Yeah, and AmeriCorps is such a great pathway for the private
sector to really enter into a trustworthy kind of relationship
with communities.
I mean, sometimes it's so hard to, you know,
get a good relationship with the community, and I think --
John Fetterman: It's hard to start -- some people that would work for a
company may not even want to drive through a neighborhood
like Braddock, let alone get out and actually interface and
do projects.
And without exception, we've had just all these different service
projects with other different companies,
and it's just about exclusively a uniformly very positive thing.
And that group brings people back more and more.
We just wrapped up our summer so-to-speak of staffing,
and our AmeriCorps volunteers that staff our playground,
they all, you know, just -- you know, incredibly difficult job,
but they are all invariably changed forever from that
point forward.
Another great point one of the speakers made,
educating yourself as to, of the circumstances of other people
that live in the same country that we do.
Asim Mishra: Yeah.
Delores, I just want to switch to you.
Tell me about your AmeriCorps experience.
Delores Morton: Hmm, before I start with my AmeriCorps experience,
I'll actually say that I grew up in a very small town on the Gulf
Coast on the Bayou Teche, Franklin, Louisiana,
and my father is a Pentecostal preacher.
And so I grew up in a household where volunteering and service
was just a part of our lives even though we never put that
label on it.
So as a preacher's kid, one of six,
we went to the nursing home and we sang on Sundays and did arts
projects, or we were visiting a hospital.
And so that service ethic was a part of my life.
I don't know if my father was intentional about building that
in me, and I never thought about volunteering as an organized
formal approach to creating change in community until I
became an AmeriCorps member.
And so I served in AmeriCorps in,
was one of the fortunate people to get to serve in my hometown
of Franklin, Louisiana.
And the work I did -- Franklin, Louisiana is a sugar cane
farming community and one of the interesting things
that I learned.
So, lived there all my life but didn't know about my community.
So my AmeriCorps term actually helped me to understand the
living conditions that a lot of people in St. Mary
Parish lived in.
So as a sugar cane farming community,
a lot of the homes that were there were former plantation
homes that had been inhabited by slaves and sharecroppers.
And so those homes were still being lived in in the 1990s,
and I served in 1995, was when I started my term of service.
So people were living in those homes,
and the conditions were such that the wind inside was worse
than the wind outside.
So the wind would literally blow straight through the houses,
because they were never -- they weren't well constructed,
well formed homes.
So my mission became at that point to help people to get into
better housing situations.
And we did that through a number of different programs,
through developing mixed income housing.
We did it through housing counseling programs.
We established a microlending program that helped with
building assets, individual development accounts,
and small businesses, turning mom and pop businesses into more
viable businesses in the communities.
And that experience, I actually ended up staying on with that
agency for three more years.
My boss, Jeff Beverly, who I think is still there and is now
my father's boss.
My father retired from the oil industry and went back to that
same organization that I did my AmeriCorps term at,
and he works in weatherization.
And Jeff would say that he had to hire three people to do the
work of one AmeriCorps member.
And I share that because when we say that AmeriCorps gets things
done, we're about getting things done, we get a lot done.
Sometimes I don't use -- I use a four letter word.
So we get a whole lot done.
(laughter)
So I think it's important to recognize that.
Asim Mishra: Well, Delores, tell me this, tell me this.
You know, when I was in Public Allies,
one of the gifts that I took away,
that I still utilize today, was this idea that in the community,
whatever community you're a part of,
whether it's at work today or on the south side of Chicago where
I was serving that there are many informal leaders that don't
have title, you know, they are not CEO, or executive directors,
but they are absolutely crucial to getting the job done,
and I keep that with me today and I use that today.
Was there something that you learned during AmeriCorps that
is still relevant to your experience as a leader today?
Delores Morton: I think what I learned is we have latent potential in us that
everyone has something that's in them that they can give and that
they can do and that they can bring to a community to create
real meaningful change.
And we see that all around us.
People, you know, Baldwin, Louisiana is a front porch
community, and you walk down the street and you wave at people
that are driving by, and whoever you see,
and those people have potential to create change.
And when I was called a change agent, thought it was just some,
you know, a catch phrase of the day,
and I didn't realize that what I was doing was creating change
for individuals.
I initially approached it as a job and expanded way beyond what
was in my VAD, my job description at the time.
And so it's that willingness that we have when given the
opportunity to do more.
And so that's what I take with me in all of my work.
Right now I manage -- actually, I'm lucky to have three
AmeriCorps programs in my current role.
I've got one program that is focused on veterans and military
initiatives with 75 members.
I've got another program with 72 VISTAs focused on
attendance and schools.
We've got a program, and not a plug,
but supported by Google that's focused on nonprofit technology.
So I am happy that in all of my work I get to see this
opportunity for unleashing this human capital,
as Jonathan referred to it earlier,
that lots of people can serve in a lot of different ways.
Whatever issues communities are facing,
there are people that have something to give that is
a solution.
Asim Mishra: That's great.
Everyone does lead, Delores, and I think that's a great story and
a great example that you still hold today.
Rhonda, you are a fighter, I've been told.
You're persistent.
You're here.
And you fight for others that are persistent and bold.
And so tell me about University for Parents.
Rhonda Ulmer: Well, University for Parents is a community program that
provides tools and resources for parents to help their children
be successful in school.
And so basically what we do is sort of like an educational
program for parents.
Just like a college student would go to college,
to go to college, well, parents come to -- well,
we actually go to parents in the schools and nonprofits who may
service parents or families, or either churches,
organizations or community centers,
wherever parents and families are at we provide
educational programs.
And the difference is it's actually the whole
entire family.
We like to include everyone.
A lot of times I think when we think of mentoring,
you think of the child being mentored and then they return to
the home, but in actuality, the whole entire family needs
support and mentoring and services and the resources to
meet the need of the family.
And so that's what we do, and that's what we love to do.
We just actually, fall of 2011, completed a program on two
public schools that are actually on the military base,
Fort Meade Military Base.
And we completed a program there.
We received a grant from the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting and partnered with Maryland Public Television with
their American Graduate Program.
We know that a million students drop out of high school
every year.
And so they wanted to partner with University for Parents,
and we were so fortunate that they thought of us to actually
help parents to help their children be successful,
to help them graduate from school.
A lot of parents sometimes are intimidated by the school
setting and not sure what to do, or maybe they had bad
experiences themselves.
And so we help parents to be able to communicate with
the teachers.
We help parents, we teach them how to do that, you know,
provide them the tools to be able to do that.
And we help them to learn how different ways to help their
children with their homework.
And we also work with specially with the middle and high school
students, because that's where we notice where the
dropout begins.
Within the middle and high school deciding whether do you
want to finish this goal of yours of graduating from high
school or is this it for you?
And so we want parents to be equipped with all the tools that
they need to be able to help their children say, no,
this isn't it for me.
I do want to graduate.
And when I graduate, it may not be college.
We're hoping it's AmeriCorps.
But when I graduate, it may be going to a trade school,
or it may be AmeriCorps, or it may be going to college.
But just giving parents, you know, those,
giving them the guidance, mentoring them through the way
to help them to be successful.
Asim Mishra: So I know you've heard a lot today about this idea of
Pathways to Opportunity and how AmeriCorps serves as a platform
for Pathways to Opportunity.
Bill, I think you talked about this quite a bit.
How was AmeriCorps an important inflection point for you,
Rhonda, to get to this space to become a social entrepreneur?
Rhonda Ulmer: Wow, well, AmeriCorps was definitely life changing.
At the time I was working for Southwest Airlines.
So, if you can imagine, I gave in my free flight benefits.
(laughter)
To serve, with my parents flying free.
And my mom thought I was crazy, what are you doing?
But in the end after serving three years,
it was so rewarding, you know, to hear my mom say, you know,
you made the best decision, career decision, I can see that.
I see that through all the works that you've done and I'm very
proud of you.
You know, as older, I guess we love to hear our parents say
they are proud of you when you're younger,
but it's also great for your parents to see that you're still
doing great things and you're trying your best.
And so AmeriCorps did that for me serving three years with
Volunteer Maryland, which is actually AmeriCorps program of
the governor's office.
And I served at Community Action Agency in Annapolis in the
Capital of Maryland where I served with the Head
Start Program.
And this was very interesting, because they wanted to really
increase their parent involvement and their
Hispanic population.
Well, I don't speak Spanish.
So how was going to do this?
So that definitely was a challenge,
but then you have to think outside the box,
and that's where AmeriCorps gave me the training on how to use
the resources of needs assessments,
finding out who your key players is.
And so I actually reached out to a religious group, the Mormons,
which part of their service, part of their mission
is to serve.
So we were able to use part of their service mission,
because they were fluent in Spanish,
and so they were actually able to help me connect with the
Hispanic families in the Head Start Program.
And it was a great win-win, because then they received their
volunteer service of community service of giving back,
and I received some amazing volunteers that were able to
help parents during parent-teacher conferences,
help translate literature for parents,
translate the Head Start literature, and then just help,
you know, volunteer in the office with different needs that
we needed.
But one of my really fun experiences I had --
if you know the Mormons, they are riding around on their
bicycles most of the time.
And I was like, I want to ride around on the bicycles, too.
And it was so cool.
They, you know, got me a bicycle.
And so we're in Annapolis riding around going to Hispanic
families' homes, meeting with them,
finding out what their needs are,
them helping me translate the information.
And so I think, you know, that's what parents need.
As a parent, I know the needs as a single mom of three, you know,
what my needs are.
So AmeriCorps also taught me how to find the need assessment of
knowing what your community needs are.
Once you do that, then you're able to help them be able to
address those needs and those basic needs,
and that basic needs was just being able to translate
information, helping those Hispanic families feel
comfortable with coming into the school and being a part of their
child's education.
So it was an amazing experience, and definitely were worth the
free flight benefits, definitely.
(laughter)
Asim Mishra: That picture of you on a bike with two Mormons, I mean,
this is not --
(laughter)
When I said service to mean awkward picture and awkward
moment, that --
Rhonda Ulmer: We get things done.
(laughter)
Asim Mishra: Dr. Wagner, I want to talk to you about what you do.
Can you just tell the group, you're not a medical
doctor, you're --
Sharon Wagner: No.
Yeah, I have a PhD in engineering and public policy,
and I am a Professor and Assistant Professor at the
University of Maine.
So, do you want me to tell you about some stuff?
Asim Mishra: Yeah, yeah.
Sharon Wagner: Okay.
I was -- I served in NCCC.
Asim Mishra: Well, what is your specialty, or like what your PhD is in?
Sharon Wagner: Engineering and public policy.
Asim Mishra: Public policy.
Sharon Wagner: And so for my thesis I studied a little known but very effective
renewable energy resource called concentrated solar power,
which is unique.
I'll just put in a little plug there,
because it's one of very few renewable energy options that
can generate power continuously, because you can store the heat
energy in salt, and you can run the power plant, theoretically,
24 hours a day.
So I'll just put in that plug.
Asim Mishra: That's great.
So AmeriCorps, solar power?
Sharon Wagner: Right.
Well, so I served in NCCC in Charleston, South Carolina.
Audience Member: Woo!
Sharon Wagner: Yeah.
In 1999 to 2000.
And, I mean, there's so much.
I'm not going to take up all of your time,
because I could talk about how much NCCC influenced my future
for a very long time, but I'll try to --
I wrote down three points, and I'll try to stick to them.
The first thing is service learning.
I just found that incredibly eye opening and important when I
learned that concept as an NCCC volunteer.
The concept that the act of service had as much to give to
the volunteer as to the community that it served,
and not just the act of service but the community had as much to
give to the volunteer as the volunteer to the community.
And I just found that incredibly important,
because I realized later in life when I did other volunteer
experiences that didn't focus on that that they were much less
effective, because the community was not involved in what the
volunteer was doing.
So there wasn't something sustainable about that.
So what service learning, how service learning affected my
life going forward was I -- well, one of the things about
NCCC that I loved was that it made me feel like anything
is possible.
I just felt like I could go out and do anything after living in
a barn with 13 people for two months in Alabama.
(laughter)
Or something like that.
And I just felt like I could, you know, take on the world.
And so I moved out to San Diego with no job and no prospects,
and I got a job in an environmental
consulting company.
But I found that that wasn't a good fit for me and actually
ended up getting a job at a charter school with no
experience, no education in education.
And it just so happened that a friend of my now husband was an
AmeriCorps volunteer who worked at that charter school and kind
of, you know, put in a plug for me.
And I was able to get this incredible opportunity to teach
middle school science.
But I was teaching in a Mexican-American barrio in San
Diego, and I was the only white teacher there.
And I grew up in a very white town south of Boston,
so I had very little to be able to connect with the population I
was serving.
And so this concept of service learning,
I really drew upon that and took every opportunity I could to
connect with the population and try to learn about them and
learn about their needs.
And I went to their homes for the conferences,
I tried to learn Spanish, and I would --
you know, it's really hard when you try to speak another
language to somebody who is fluent,
because you just feel really awful.
You just feel like a real dummy.
But I would do it because I knew that it meant something to the
parents that I was speaking with.
That they would appreciate that I was honoring them and trying
to speak their language, and it helped me practice so that I
could some day be better.
And that really, really helped me to build relationships with
my students and take an experience that could have been
a disaster and turn it into something very positive.
And I worked there for three years.
And then I just had this bug to travel internationally.
So I went to Ecuador for two years and taught as an
environmental systems teacher in Quito.
And through the process, there's a whole host of other things I
could say about that experience, but it was wonderful and crazy.
But through that experience, I was starting to kind of think
about what the most pressing environmental problems
are out there.
And I just kind of narrowed in on energy,
because it affects so much of the environment from the air to
the water to the land.
It just affects everything, the way that we use energy,
and it's so unsustainable.
So I decided to pursue a PhD at Carnegie Mellon University in
engineering and public policy, which I just thought was a great
program because it combines two things that we really need to
focus on these huge societal problems.
And just I had a couple of other things about that, hold on.
Oh, and so the other thing about AmeriCorps that kind of carried
me through those times is I just loved the mantra of
getting things done.
I would just -- I would always think about that,
even when I was working on my thesis,
I would know that this is my personal deadline and I had to
get this done, just like I would get things done in AmeriCorps.
Or if I was washing the kitchen floor, I had to get things
done, you know.
And the other thing that I just really loved about being able to
do NCCC, I found it an incredible way to follow my
passions, and I feel like that's very underrated for a lot
of people.
That they think that they need to choose this certain career
path and they think that these are the steps to get there.
And AmeriCorps gave me an alternative,
because I wasn't ready when I graduated college.
You know, I had professors who told me that I would do great in
grad school, and I just wanted to run screaming from undergrad,
do something different and see the world and really, you know,
get out there and not be up in, you know, the Ivory Tower,
which is pretty ironic now.
And so AmeriCorps allowed me to pursue a passion of service.
And then through, because that was so successful and so
wonderful, it allowed me to pursue other passions
in my life.
And it's just a neat path to be able to go through life pursuing
what you truly want to do in your heart.
And that's what I try to tell students who come to me and they
ask me what they should do after they graduate from college,
and I just -- the first thing I ask them is,
what are you passionate about?
And the next thing I ask them is,
have you heard of AmeriCorps?
(laughter)
Asim Mishra: That's great.
That's great.
I'm so -- it's fascinating to hear how AmeriCorps connects to
the experience that you had as a graduate student and what you're
doing now.
Marissa, I just want to turn to you.
You are a school performance officer in the DC Public Charter
School, is that correct?
Marissa Mikoy: No.
That was my previous --
Asim Mishra: Previous job.
Oh, what are you doing now?
Marissa Mikoy: So now I work with a nonprofit called the Teaching Trust in
Dallas, Texas, and we're an education reform organization
that really we're strengthening leaders that work within the
public schools and, you know, with the idea of changing from
the inside out, we're hoping that strengthening that
leadership pipeline begin to close the achievement gap and
really help students achieve academic success or
just success.
Asim Mishra: This idea of changing from the inside out,
is this something that's a concept that you learned when
you were in AmeriCorps or were you aware of it when you were
in AmeriCorps?
Marissa Mikoy: Actually, that's part of my organization,
our Teaching Trust tagline is "Changing from the inside out"
but I absolutely -- it absolutely resonates with me
from my experience in AmeriCorps and something that I think Macon
said earlier today.
He was given more responsibility than he deserved.
(laughter)
And I heard a lot of people kind of chuckle.
And I thought, oh my God, yeah, that was me in AmeriCorps,
and I have always felt like that in all of my different
experiences throughout my career.
And just really understanding just what it's like to be in
somebody else's shoes, I think that idea of --
so I did my AmeriCorps year of service in the lower east side
of Manhattan for an organization called university settlement,
settlement house.
And I worked in a program called Project Home,
and we worked with families that were in transitional housing.
So with individuals that were, they had, you know,
90 days to live in this transitional housing,
and we would work with them, job skills and helping to prep them
for getting a job, but we'd also work with their --
if they had children, we had a Youth Empower to Speak Program,
and we'd work with them.
So I had the experience and the honor and was just --
I don't know why they trusted me to do this,
but I taught a class in job readiness, how to write,
basic computer literacy skills, how to write a cover letter,
and a resume.
And I really got to know the stories of the families and the
people that we were serving and quickly realized that, you know,
the face of poverty is not so much what people think.
A lot of people are one paycheck away, one bad break away.
There were multiple families that I knew that just had a
sickness, either they got sick or someone in their family got
sick, and that affected their employment.
And so I think coming from that, the experience taught me to sort
of look through the lens of someone else and not to make
such quick judgments.
And I think I've always, I carried that throughout my whole
career of really looking at what are the issues,
what are the problems, and then instead of judging,
figuring out what is the solution,
what is the root cause of why that's happening.
So sort of that inside out, I think that's kind of where
that came from.
Asim Mishra: That's great.
I just want to -- I just want to reinforce the message that you
guys are talking about.
Not only the connection of that space we talked about in the
very beginning, that space where we have impacted communities and
how communities have impacted us and that reciprocal
relationship, that important space where growth and
transformation happens, and this important space that, Bill,
you were talking about, or the pathway that this space can
serve as pathway towards opportunity and towards
economic opportunity.
Can folks -- if you had the opportunity to tell others about
AmeriCorps, what would you say in terms of your experience?
Morgan, you want to go?
Morgan Tracey: Well, I guess it would just be what I think everyone in here
keeps echoing is that just do it.
I mean, it will open up so many other doors and doors that you
didn't think that you had before.
I said it, but what I thought was funny is that I think
probably any of you could have been up here in any of these
spots and kind of said the same thing that all of us said.
I heard it from everyone I talked to was that it opened,
AmeriCorps opened doors you never thought you ever had or,
you know, it allowed you to have the confidence to open doors.
I mean, I never thought that I would be competing for a spot in
the Olympics ever in a million years,
and I still don't even think it.
But then I'm like, again, first day of AmeriCorps, I said, okay,
I'm going to do it, and I'm going to hold on and see where
it takes me.
So, I mean, that would be my thing is just do it and be open.
Like Marissa said, be open to, you know,
what you're going to learn about other people and what you're
going to learn about yourself, because it says loads.
Asim Mishra: Mayor Fetterman, you talked about the private sector.
What would you tell the private sector,
and are there other sectors that are not engaged fully that are
maybe impacted by AmeriCorps but don't tell the story
of AmeriCorps?
John Fetterman: Well, I just think private dollars are going to be
necessary if we as a country are going to maintain a basic,
you know, floor of services in a lot of these communities.
I met somebody that works in the office here from Ducane,
which is a community that's in the Mon Valley that's directly
across the river from us, and they've just lost two recent
graduates in as many months from gun violence.
You know, one of the bodies was dumped in someone's driveway.
I mean, it's like this shouldn't happen in this society.
And, you know, ten miles away is the nation's,
actually the world's most prestigious computer science
program at Carnegie Mellon University.
So there is this incredible and profound disparity in this
country where, you know, you go ten miles one direction,
there's bodies in the driveway versus you've got computer
science programs and companies like Facebook or Google offering
their graduates six figures.
And I think -- I don't think anyone wants or no one is
suggesting that you give up a career at Facebook to come work
in Braddock or Ducane, but I think there's a lot sloshing
around in that sector that they could channel a little bit more
into the communities like Braddock.
And I am open to that conversation, and we have had --
(laughter)
And I want to emphasize that that money never goes into
my personal.
Like of all the Levis money, I didn't receive a dime out of it.
I don't even have health insurance.
So I think my joke is I didn't even get a free pair of jeans
with Levis, and that's true.
If corporations can find a meaningful, you know,
proven way to invest their resources,
I'd like to see it opened up.
Because I think the assumption is that, oh,
the government will take care of it.
And it's like, no, they really won't.
And if AmeriCorps didn't take care of it,
we wouldn't have our playgrounds open this summer.
We wouldn't be able to put on Community Day tomorrow.
And these are important things.
And in some communities they don't have to worry about that,
but there are an increasing number of communities that do,
and we have been in that, the ladder category now for
many years.
Asim Mishra: This is to anyone, Delores, I was going to go to you but
anyone can answer this.
You know, we're all sitting here in this room today and when you
did your AmeriCorps year, I know, Delores,
you were saying you did it in '95; is that correct?
Delores Morton: '95.
Asim Mishra: '95.
I did it '97-'98.
But, I mean, right now there's a feeling that what we're doing,
what we did and what we're continuing is a
national movement.
Did you have that sense in '95 that you were part of a
national movement?
Delores Morton: I did not.
I absolutely did not.
I was a lone member and I wasn't a art of a team.
The only member in South Louisiana in that local
community, but we did come together at some point about
halfway through my year with other members from across
the nation.
And that was the point at which I realized, oh, this is big.
You know, I didn't know that.
And so one of the things I do try to instill in the program,
the members that are part of the program that are in my portfolio
now is that you are a part of something,
it's outside of yourself.
You're not alone.
So one of the changes we've made in our program is to have
members serve in pairs or teams so that they can understand the
esprit de core and understand AmeriCorps.
I also think that this logo, you don't have one --
Asim Mishra: I don't have one.
Delores Morton: But the AmeriCorps logo actually has a lot of recognition now.
My husband will put on one of my hoodies.
I have the AmeriCorps, the gray hoodie,
and my husband will wear it.
And he didn't serve so she's like really fronting and he
didn't serve.
But he will wear it to go pick up a pizza and it becomes a
source of conversation and people will ask where
did you serve?
When my son had this box, soap, the little boxcar,
I can't remember what they call it,
the little derby in Boy Scouts, when he had that the volunteer
who -- the Pinewood Derby, thank you -- at the Pinewood Derby the
volunteer who cuts their cars for them is a senior,
is an RSVP volunteer and he's, like, great job,
where did you serve?
And I was, like, well, that was in 1995.
But it has some stature now and so I do think that we're doing,
maybe it's the sheer number of us out there at this point but
this logo does have some recognition and so people are
seeing it as a part of a national movement,
I would assert.
Asim Mishra: What about the others, do you feel like you were a part of a
national story or now do you feel like you're part of a
national story that it wasn't this kind of local
community story?
Marissa Mikoy: Absolutely.
And I sort of had the same experience with an AmeriCorps
T-shirt, I have a binder with a sticker,
and someone will see it and say, oh, my God, you did AmeriCorps,
and that immediately sparks a conversation which is also,
you know, just an immediate kinship with somebody who sort
of understands, you know, what it's like to be thrown in with
too much responsibility.
But, you know, learning how to swim.
And, you know, learning like that stick-to-it-iveness,
that grit, that determination to push through to your goal.
But it's that passion and that fire that really drives you to
get up the next day and to do it all over again.
You know, I just think that those kinds of conversations,
that passion that you share with somebody, you know,
that's so unique.
And, yes, I absolutely feel like I'm part of a bigger family.
Asim Mishra: That's great.
Let's give a round of applause to the panel.
(applause)
I just want to end by saying that, and Jonathan said this,
too, that we talked about at the end a national narrative.
And this national narrative it's imperative that we get this
story outside of this room that people hear about this,
that people understand and can feel this feeling that happens
when we do this, you know, silly little panel here.
I mean, we need to tell the story and share the feeling of
National Service and solving problems through
National Service.
It's just so important not just for solving problems,
but for the ethic of service that is so innate in the birth
of this country.
And so I think that we just need to tell the story and share with
people how important, vital, this resource is in communities
all across America.
So thanks so much again.
And a round of applause again to you guys.
(applause)
Victoria McCullough: All right.
Let's give one more round of applause for all of
our Champions.
(applause)
I want to thank you guys again for just being with -- I
mentioned this this morning but about being here and hopefully
being present and involved and you guys were easily one of the
most energetic groups we've had here.
So to close it out, I want to, if you haven't already received
it, we have like a very quick evaluation form.
So we do these events a lot and we're always trying to make
them better.
And this was one that there was a ton of work that went into it,
if you see a CNCS employee or is Katie around?
Katie Miller who you guys should recruit for TFA.
All of these guys, there was so much work that is involved in
getting 200 people into the White House.
I can't even begin to tell you what is involved in that.
So thank those guys as you're leaving.
And a round of applause, too.
(applause)
So to closeout I want to really quickly turn over,
we have one more AmeriCorps alum at the White House who literally
is like heads up the President's education team.
So I want to have her close it out on our behalf at
the White House.
And then she'll turn it over to Ben Duda who has been my partner
in crime the last month.
I don't know what I'm going to do,
we're not going to be able to talk on the phone every day.
So anyway, Mary, it would be great if you could come up and
close it out for the White House.
(applause)
Mary Wall: Hi, everyone.
I was able to speak to some of you earlier at the education
breakout so thank you for coming to that.
As Victoria said, my name is Mary Wall.
I just want to really quickly just say a few things
to you all.
As Victoria mentioned I also am an AmeriCorps alum.
I served in 2008-2009 in Los Angeles.
I was working as part of the Good Shepherd Volunteers.
I was working at a long-term domestic violence shelter where
I served as teacher and coordinator of a learning center
which meant that I was teaching our adult women clients of
the shelter.
Had an absolutely outstanding and extremely
challenging experience.
I think very much as we just hearing from our panelists here
you can always tell a good AmeriCorps volunteer when they
can just jump in to any situation and act because that's
kind of what you have to do.
And that was certainly my feeling throughout the year.
I just wanted to very quickly just touch on the fact that my
AmeriCorps experience I think it's very clear that this has
been the case for all of our Champions here today and
certainly for the folks that I was able to speak to,
it's just really profoundly changed my life.
It's really led me into a career in public service that I feel
like is just profoundly enriched by the experiences in the
community, on the ground.
I know for me that I wouldn't be able to do what I was doing now,
working on education policy here for the President without
that experience.
And without, you know, entering a community that wasn't my own,
from Boston originally, enter a community that wasn't my own and
really discovering so much about my country and my fellow
citizens at the same time that I was discovering things
about myself.
And I think that entire experience,
especially that it was education based, really helped me,
it really helped me learn and really taught me and set me on a
great path for being here.
It set me on a path that has helped me both in the ways of a
very kind of real and professional ways in terms of
developing myself in a career, but also just giving me so much
basis for what I'm doing now.
And so much inspiration to continue to serve.
So thank you all for everything that you are doing and as was
also mentioned before me, please continue to share your stories
because they're inspirational and you're just bringing more
and more people into the AmeriCorps family.
So thanks.
(applause)
Ben Duda: All right!
My name is Ben Duda, I'm the Executive Director of
AmeriCorps Alums.
And I'm going to take a drink of water.
But I wanted to say thank you, this is the last,
I'll be the last speaker today for this incredibly powerful
day, so I do you want to say thank you.
And I just want to appreciate all of you.
So I want to appreciate everybody who came out here from
the West Coast.
Let me hear -- I want to hear from you.
I want to hear from you!
It's almost 4 o'clock on a Friday.
All the people who came from the Midwest.
(applause)
From the south.
(applause)
Mid-Atlantic.
(cheers and applause)
New England.
(cheers and applause)
I want to thank City Year.
Audience: Whooo!
Ben Duda: I want to thank Public Allies.
Audience: Whooo!
Ben Duda: Teach for America.
Audience: Whooo!
Ben Duda: NCCC.
Audience: Whooo!
Ben Duda: Reading Corps.
(laughter)
Jump Start.
Audience: Whooo!
Ben Duda: I want to thank Teach for America.
(applause)
I want to thank Vista.
Audience: Whooo!
Ben Duda: I want to thank any Vista members in the room who served
before AmeriCorps was even a thing.
All right.
I want to thank our returning Peace Corps volunteers.
Audience: Whooo!
Ben Duda: I want to thank people who served in 2010 and 2011.
Audience: Whooo!
Ben Duda: I want to thank our alums, chapter members and leaders.
Audience: Whooo!
Ben Duda: It's been an incredible day and I just feel so honored and
privileged to be part of the team that brought this
day together.
You know, it really couldn't have gone --
obviously you can't have an event at the White House without
the White House wanting you to have an event.
So people kept saying, Ben, how did you do this?
And, well, you know, I'm not going to be able to take any
credit for it, you know, it's the White House.
The White House wanted this conversation and invited us to
have this conversation and so through the gracious leadership
of Victoria and the team who just made a place for us to I
think have a really meaningful conversation,
so I really just want to thank you so much, Victoria.
(applause)
And I think similarly, it comes down to leadership and that
really, we saw that this morning from the CEO of the Corporation
for National and Community Service, Wendy Spencer,
her energy and enthusiasm from the minute she was named the CEO
is evident.
This doesn't happen without Wendy's leadership and the
conversations and the energy and enthusiasm that I'm sure she
brought to the table that said we need a Champions of Change
for AmeriCorps Alums.
And so Wendy and her senior leadership team and all of the
Corporation for National and Community staff that are here,
many of whom were AmeriCorps Alums themselves.
And particularly to Patricia Bory, just at wonderful,
wonderful leader, again, similarly just gracious,
and passionate and fun.
And gets things done.
And so it was just a pleasure from one NCCC alum to another,
just a privilege to work with you on this.
So thank you.
I also want to send out a thank you to the interwebs.
There's lots of people that are logging on and are
watching this live.
I think my dad maybe, but more importantly,
two very special people are watching this and that is Ken
Tran and Greg Heinrich, my team at AmeriCorps Alums.
They're down in Atlanta.
(cheering and applause)
But the cool thing is, the cool thing is that AmeriCorps Alums
is an enterprise of Points of Light,
so Points of Light is actually a much larger organization so
there is probably still 20 to 30 alums in current members in that
office in Atlanta who are saying, man,
I thought Ben was going to come on at 2:30.
Or is this thing still going?
Or, you know, it's Friday afternoon maybe we should...
you know, but I just wanted to say thank you to all of them for
sticking with us.
And the leader of the Points of Light, Michelle Nunn,
who his one of the most visionary women,
one of the most visionary persons in this sector and in
our country, responded to a request in AmeriCorps' earlier
days alumni efforts had risen and fallen and struggled,
she said, we will host AmeriCorps Alums within our much
larger organization and continue to carry this water and continue
to carry this idea along until the point at which we can really
breakout and transform.
And I think, you know, judging from the energy,
judging from the passion, judging from the stories,
judging from the individuals that are in this room,
this is going to be a really important day for all of us.
And it's going to be a really important day in the history of
what it means to be an alumni of AmeriCorps.
And we have Michelle Nunn in part to thank for that.
So thank you to Michelle for sure.
And finally to our Champions of Change, just, I mean,
talk about just incredible individuals with persuasive and
inspiring stories and, you know, we just scratched the surface up
here in our program today and the champions blogs will go
online if they're not up already.
And I really encourage you to read them because each of them
has a just incredible story of transformational service
and leadership.
And the career arc that they followed and how that is rooted
in National Service.
And, you know, I think the wonderful thing about this
program is that we were able to really highlight really 12
amazing stories.
But I also think we've convened 1,200 times more stories because
those stories of the champions are each of your stories.
And so, you know, the program says Ben is going to share his
personal story.
I don't think I can really add much to the dialogue by sharing
what I did in AmeriCorps.
But I do think, I do want to challenge the group with what I
think we can do from this experience that we all share
which is AmeriCorps.
And so AmeriCorps Alums is the national alumni network for all
AmeriCorps Alumni.
So no matter what program you served in -- and I think we saw
that today, we saw that when the young man stood up from
YouthBuild and shared his personal experience,
that resonates, and that has a real connection to a Teach for
America and NCCC alumni like myself who had a much different
suburban upbringing and went to a pretty good university and but
we share a lot in common.
And I think the promise of AmeriCorps Alums' idea is
really evident.
And so this time I think is one that we'll remember.
And I think we will because it's clear that what that
connection is.
It's an interesting time in our country's history.
Many of our personal narratives are really tied to the last
dozen years and the impact of growing up in an era of 9/11 and
Hurricane Katrina and Rita and the aftermath that we saw there.
Growing up in a decade of wars.
Not war, wars.
All of that and all of us saying in our own way what can I do?
How can I do something about all of this that I'm seeing out
in the world?
How can I make a difference?
And we chose our own path, our own way to do that,
but for each of us we decided we wanted to do good and do good
with and for others in AmeriCorps.
And that makes us, that puts in a very interesting and
unique position.
We're really poised to lead in the 21st century.
And as we saw today, many of us are already leading.
We're quietly, I think, quietly becoming the 21st century
pipeline for leaders and change agents.
And I think it's important for us to say it's time for us not
to be quiet any longer.
We need to embrace that AmeriCorps bond that ties us.
We need to accentuate that.
And Nicole, who is one of our champions didn't share it in her
narrative, but the think that struck me when I met her for the
very first time is she said I'm building out my CSR team at
Coinstar Red Box, the first person I hired was an
AmeriCorps Alum.
I knew I wanted an AmeriCorps Alum because I knew that was the
exact type of profile of individual that I needed to take
my department to the next level.
That's a true story.
That's what she told me.
And that, I think, personifies the opportunity for all of us
because I might not ever have an opportunity to work with or for
another alumni of Citizen Schools where I also did
AmeriCorps service.
But I have the privilege and the honor to work all the time with
alumni from the HandsOn Network of AmeriCorps Program or alumni
of Teach for America and other programs that I didn't serve
with but we have that AmeriCorps connection.
And I think there is a really opportunity there to
accentuate that.
And I think that there is very real things that we can do.
As we get so far along in our career I've noticed for some of
us, our AmeriCorps experience kind of drops off the resumé.
It's time to bring it back on the resumé.
That's a badge.
That's a seal of approval.
You've been vetted.
You know, I think all the time, I've told people NCCC,
City Year, all of these programs,
it's easier to get into a university than it is to get in
to AmeriCorps.
We've been vetted.
We've passed the test.
We've spent a whole year, many of us, in-service.
And so the skills that we've acquired,
the experiences that we've had, passing that seal of approval,
and some of the leading social change organizations in this
entire country, there's a lot of value to that.
So it's time for us to lift that up so that we have that
connection between all of our AmeriCorps programs.
That AmeriCorps at its core means something and it means a
little bit of the same thing, or a lot of bit of the same thing
for all of us.
And so that's really where we're going at AmeriCorps alums.
You know, I think we got a lot of input and there is a lot for
us to digest and process from today,
but I think the potential is unmistakable.
And so where I think we're going is partly the message that was
delivered by Wendy today.
And I think that there are some really specific things that we
can do going forward in addition to, you know,
putting AmeriCorps back on, joining that AmeriCorps Alums
LinkedIn in group, so you can see all of AmeriCorps members in
your own community.
Because you never know when you're going to need an
informational interview or to find talent or to find
volunteers or to find a board member or to join a board.
And that really relates to my next point which is I think
there's a few things that all of us can do coming out of today.
I think we can serve.
We're talented service leaders.
We need to continue to serve and to demonstrate those skills in
the community whether as a volunteer or whether as a
volunteer leader.
Whether as an episodic opportunity or to making a
commitment to yourself that says MLK Day was the most
impressionable season of service for me as a member.
I'm going to make time for MLK Day as a service day,
as a day I'm going forward.
And so I think that is one thing that we can do.
I think the second thing we can do is I think we need to
challenge ourselves and I'm going to challenge myself
personally, we need to join a board of directors.
You know, they often evaluate a nonprofit board of directors on
time, talent, treasure, you know,
and we all know the treasure thing, you know,
it takes a little while, right?
NCCC's $13 a day and then you add some school on it, you know,
you have that down.
But we have the time and the talent if we so choose.
And by being part of those local community boards,
you are going to have an opportunity to meet people in
the private sector.
And they're going to say, man, this woman is incredibly
talented coming from where she's coming from with the experience
that she had, what an asset to this organization and where
we're going.
She's an AmeriCorps Alum.
What's AmeriCorps?
There you go, right?
You know, every bank tells their bankers we want you on boards of
directors in the community, we want you out there.
We need to have our commitment to a lifetime of service to
motivate us to be in that place.
And I think the third thing obviously which we saw today was
to share our story.
And I think, you know, Wendy gave us a really
specific charge.
We sent you a template for a press release.
That can be one way.
I think her editorial board idea could be another way to reach
out in your local community and connect in groups of alums and
say this is what our community is doing.
This is what a group of individuals who have different
AmeriCorps experiences is doing going forward.
But all of this conversation has led me to another realization,
if you will.
And it's something I'm excited to announce today.
So as I mentioned AmeriCorps Alums is an enterprise of
Points of Light.
So Points of Light has kind of a multi-brand portfolio,
HandsOn Network.
The Civic Incubator, Fuse Corps, A Billion + Change,
the Corporate Institute, GenerationOn.
A lot of different enterprises are going on within
Points of Light.
So I asked back at Points of Light,
which is now if you total all those things up it's about a
hundred people, I said, what do you think about this idea?
What do you think about changing our application process and
adding one sentence.
And that one sentence would say on all applications regardless
of position, maybe it's in the cover letter, you know,
whatever the mechanism is, please include all your
volunteer experience, all your volunteer and National Service
experience including AmeriCorps.
Including AmeriCorps.
So let me say that again because I tripped over it a little bit.
So the sentence would be include all your volunteer and National
Service experience including AmeriCorps.
And they said yes.
So they're going to do that.
So now in the front door of the application process,
that doesn't mean, you know, it's a home run,
but we're going to lift that up.
We're going to say tell us how you volunteer.
Tell us how you serve.
Tell us if you did AmeriCorps.
And so that's just a start.
And so what AmeriCorps Alums is going to launch this fall is an
effort to have that same conversation with nonprofits and
with for-profits and we're going to work with Wendy and the
Corporation for National and Community Service in their
impressive networks to have those conversations with their
partners and allies and to say, if we think that service is the
solution, and we think that the profile of a successful employee
regardless of industry is someone who has hustle, heart,
teamwork and grit, then I say you need an
AmeriCorps Alum, right?
Right?
(applause)
Because I can envision a scenario,
whether it's the frontline staff of a big box retailer,
a Fortune 500 company, an investment banker, nonprofit,
for-profit, you know, in Washington,
D.C., AmeriCorps might have a lot more currency than it does
in my hometown of Buffalo.
But this is a way that we can try and raise that profile.
Have that conversation and say, listen, this is who we are.
This is what we have.
This is what we can do.
So I hope you will join me in that conversation.
I would love to deputize many of you to have that conversation
within your own organizations and say what would it take for
us to add this to our application process?
Because I think it's really provocative.
And not everyone is going to have AmeriCorps experience,
but it's also interesting to think about at a very base level
if we're a serving organization, do we have,
are we ourselves an institution of service.
Do we hire servant leaders to be as part of our team.
So I'm really excited about that prospect.
It's very new.
But it is very exciting because I think that that's a way that
we can really change the dynamic and change the conversation that
we're having about AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Alums.
So I just want to close quickly with a story and again just say
thank you to all of you.
I think we had to be close to 200 in the room at some point
today when we were standing room only.
And we were trending on Twitter, I don't know if people saw that,
in multiple communities --
(applause)
-- so I think we certainly had a lot of people that were logging
in online.
Somebody said, well, maybe that's because the Internet is
real bad in the auditorium so once everybody walked out of the
auditorium all these tweets went up at once.
But I'd like to think that it's a little bit more.
That we've had a really good conversation amongst each other
but also with folks from around the country that were able to
participate today.
But I wanted to share a quick story from a friend and mentor
who is Phyllis Segal.
Phyllis' late husband Eli is often called the father
of AmeriCorps.
There is a number of Segal Fellows in the room who come
through a lot of different channels whether through our
entrepreneurship award, through some scholarships that other
organizations give.
Eli used to often tell a story during the early days of
AmeriCorps that I wanted to share with you.
And it's about the old wise man and the two young boys.
And the boys thought that they were very clever.
And they thought that they could pull one over on the old man.
And so they said, "Let's catch a bird."
And so they caught a bird.
And they held it in their hand and they said, "Hey, old man,
"is this bird alive or dead?"
And they thought, well, if he says it's dead then we'll open
our hands and we'll let the bird fly away.
And if he says it's alive we'll quickly crush the bird
in our hands.
And the old wise man looked at them and softly said,
"It's in your hands."
And I think that's the message today.
It's in our hands where we're going and how we're going to
go forward.
The legacy from Jack Lew, from Eli Segal,
the early days of the Points of Light in the Bush
Administration, four successive Administrations that have
supported AmeriCorps, and now 775 alumni --
775,000 alumni of AmeriCorps, it's in our hands.
And I think that vision that our champions articulated,
we can help make that vision a reality.
And so I just want to thank you for coming today and thank you
for being a part of AmeriCorps Alums Day at the White House.
(applause)