|On Tuesday, June 23rd there will be a strategic conversation on Innovations, Opportunities, and Challenges for Service and Civic Engagement to be held during the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in San Francisco. The session is being co-convened by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Case Foundation, PACE (Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement), Corporation for National and Community Service, and Points of Light Institute and HandsOn Network to get input on how the service community can work with philanthropy to serve vulnerable youth, families, and communities.
A series of events, including the passage of the Kennedy Serve America Act, the establishment of the White House Office of Social Innovation and its new $50 million social innovation fund, and ground-breaking online civic participation campaigns, is bringing increased national attention to the service and civic engagement movements. This offers us a new opportunity to open the dialogue between philanthropy and service about how we can work together to make a positive difference in the lives of those most affected.
What would our nation look like if we directed the 250,000 AmeriCorps members, the more than 500,000 national service alums, and the millions of individual volunteers and self-organized groups to support and improve the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable kids and families and against our most critical community problems? What if diverse groups came together to engage in dialogues on healthcare or school reform to create community-generated solutions and strategies?
For years now, service sector organizations, funders and volunteers have been calling for more intentional connections to civic engagement methods to affect deeper, long-lasting social change. There has been a need and desire to increase the racial equity lens through which service and civic engagement is structured and organized so that traditionally marginalized people are engaged in the solutions. Finally, rapid breakthroughs in technology and social media such as Change.org’s Ideas for Change in America, the Case Foundation’s Make it Your Own Awards and the Knight News Challenge have changed and continue to change the nature of involvement by allowing for new methods of participation and community organizing.
Clearly, the time is right to begin a strategic conversation with a diverse group of funders and national and state leaders to develop a deeper understanding of the current innovations, challenges, and opportunities that lay before the service movement as it relates to increased civic engagement that drives impact.
Anne B. Mosle