At Service Year Alliance, we envision a future where a year of paid, full-time service — a service year — is part of growing up in America. To make this vision a reality, we need innovative leadership from all sectors - and in just the first few weeks of 2024, we’re excited to see governors across the country taking the lead.
In Utah, during the State and National Service Symposium, Governor Cox announced the One Utah Service Fellowship, a new program that will meet state needs and engage young people in service that prepares them for postsecondary success. This announcement was complemented by an op-ed alongside Service Year Alliance’s Board of Directors Co-Chair, John Bridgeland, Let’s Put Service at the Center of National Renewal,” and followed Governor Cox’s executive orders on service in the fall, which includes encouraging state agencies to engage employees in service.
In New York, Governor Hochul utilized the state of the state to call for the creation of a new Office of Service and Civic Engagement within the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. This office will include a Chief Service Officer responsible for leading service and civic engagement efforts and launching the “Empire State Service Corps Program” in partnership with the State University of New York to connect students with opportunities to serve their communities. These actions will complement the work of the NY State Commission on National and Community Service and - we hope - engage the three Service Year Impact Communities working to bolster service years in New York City, Poughkeepsie, and Western New York.
In California, Governor Newsom continued to demonstrate his strong leadership and commitment to service, including in his budget funding for California Volunteers, the California Experience Corps, the California Conservation Corps, and more service year programs across the state. The governor has also called for establishing California Volunteers as a separate entity from the Office of Planning and Research, including other programs that align with California Volunteer’s mission. As in 2023, Service Year Alliance is dedicated to continuing our support of the expansions of California state service year opportunities over the past few years.
In Maryland, Governor Moore announced his intention to make Maryland “the state that serves,” including in his budget funding for the recently-launched Service Year Option and Maryland Corps within the Department of Service and Civic Innovation - actions applauded by Maryland's nonprofit and higher education leaders and the CEO of AmeriCorps. From testifying in support of The SERVE Act to joining the launch of the inaugural cohort of the Service Year Option and Maryland Corps, Service Year Alliance continues to celebrate Governor Moore’s actions to make service core to how Maryland solves problems, creates opportunities and brings people closer together.
“In our recent report with More Perfect and America’s Service Commissions, we highlighted State Innovations in National Service & Volunteering,” said Kristen Bennett, CEO of Service Year Alliance. “We know that leadership at the state level - from innovative governors and dedicated state legislatures - can tap into the vibrant and diverse natures of their states to unlock the potential of service years. These governors are leading the way in elevating service years as engines of transformation - for communities across their states and for those who serve. We applaud each of them, look forward to supporting their efforts, and remain ready to engage with other state leaders as they look to utilize service years to meet the unique needs of their states.”