By JESSE COLVIN, September 22, 2020
Our country faces mounting public health, economic, and educational crises, as well as a nationwide reckoning on racial injustice — challenges that require thoughtful solutions to move the country forward. When it comes to addressing these critical issues, there are few solutions that have both bipartisan support and can be a true antidote in helping to rebuild in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a proud member of the Nonprofit Infrastructure Investment Advocacy Group (NIIAG), convened by Independent Sector and KABOOM!, Service Year Alliance is thrilled to see NIIAG lifting up national service as a way to strengthen our country’s civic infrastructure.
As we determine how best to address each of these individual challenges, we also must confront the growing lack of trust in our institutions and the hyperpolarization that threaten the civic fabric of American society. If we are to truly tackle these issues, it will require a solution that unites Americans around a common cause in order to knit our communities back together.
Service Year Alliance is proud to be working with NIIAG and our partners to prioritize robust and reliable federal funding for an expanded vision of national service in America. NIIAG’s vision for national service — from lifting up the work of the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service, to ensuring people of all backgrounds and abilities are able to serve, and allowing nonprofits of all types access to national service corps members — reflects many of the same goals of the Serve America Together campaign’s policy platform, which lays out our vision for making national service part of growing up in America.
America’s civic infrastructure is the foundation on which our country was built. Nonprofit organizations are the institutions driving change in local communities. Specifically, they are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response supporting public health workers, they are providing much-needed human capital and volunteers in response to the growing number of natural disasters taking place across the country, and they are the engines running our food banks and providing extra support to our schools and teachers during unprecedented and challenging times. They are also the ones that fuel our culture through the arts, education, and community building, keeping Americans uplifted in these difficult times.
In order to be successful, nonprofits need strong, sustained capacity. Rigorous independent evaluations have demonstrated that national service programs help nonprofits build their capacity in different areas, including volunteer management, leadership, fiscal management and fund development, evaluation and learning capacity, collaboration, communications, and technology. National service corps members power nonprofits in local communities across the country and improve an organization’s ability to deliver on their mission and achieve their desired impact.