Hundreds of eagles rallied at U.S. Capitol today telling Congress to “Let National Service Soar”
In largest-ever rally for national service, advocates in inflatable eagle costumes called for expanding funding for AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and YouthBuild in the 2019 budget.
WASHINGTON, DC (May 7, 2018) – Today, over two hundred eagles and supporters of national service rallied at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC to tell Congress to “Let National Service Soar.” It was the largest rally ever for national service. Advocates dressed in large inflatable eagle costumes flapped their wings and “soared” around the Capitol grounds. They were telling Congress to expand funding for national service programs like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and YouthBuild. Just as the bald eagle overcame extinction in the 1970s and is now thriving, advocates were fighting to overcome the extinction of national service in the President’s 2019 budget and expand it.
The eagles and national service advocates mobilized throughout the morning commute at six locations across DC including Dupont Circle, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and Union Station. The morning mobilization capped off with a rally at U.S. Capitol where national service advocates and alums from AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps spoke about the impact of national service on their lives and the communities they served.
“When I lost my home in Hurricane Katrina I learned what it was like to be on the receiving end of national service. That formative experience shaped my desire to do my own service year,” said Erin Mauffray, a national service alum who served with AmeriCorps VISTA in Mississippi and spoke at the rally. “The service I did there — fighting poverty through education — the people I met, and the concepts and skills I learned are invaluable to me. My service year with AmeriCorps VISTA shaped my career and led me to return to Mississippi to teach after graduate school at a time when most young professionals are leaving the state.”
Organized by Service Year Alliance — the organization that brought the #DinosinDC to the Capitol in 2017 to stop national service extinction — the rally was in response to President Trump's 2019 budget proposal. Despite eighty percent of bipartisan voters supporting the federal investment in national service, the Administration’s budget threatens to eliminate national service programs like AmeriCorps and proposes significant cuts to the Peace Corps and YouthBuild for the second year in a row. It would prevent 75,000 young Americans from making an impact through AmeriCorps in our communities every year.
“National service represents the best America has to offer — a commitment to our citizens and our country. It gives us the strength we need to overcome pressing issues like natural disasters, the opioid epidemic, and education inequity,” said Robert Simmons III, President of Service Year Alliance. “The benefits of national service extend well beyond the communities where these passionate young people serve — the experience sticks with them throughout their lives, arming them with the skills and professional experience they need to become successful members of our workforce. They are the leaders of the next generation and Congress should be doing everything in their power to expand national service so every young American who raises their hand to serve has the opportunity to do so.”
The rally in DC kicked off nationwide local mobilization efforts. Throughout the budget debate, Service Year Alliance plans to activate national service advocates across the country to attend town halls dressed as eagles and continue to engage members of Congress at home in their districts this summer to spread the word about the need to expand national service in the 2019 budget.
View more photos and videos from this morning’s event and learn more about Service Year Alliance’s efforts to expand national service at LetUsServe.org.