July 1, 2021

Young Introduces Bills to Boost Civic Engagement, Support Hoosier Communities

WASHINGTON – Ahead of Independence Day, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), along with Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I), announced the introduction of the Volunteer Innovation Act and the Unity through Service Act, which will unite the nation by supporting volunteerism and service opportunities. The bipartisan bills would modernize AmeriCorps’ national service programs and allow them to adapt to changing times.

Over 24 million Americans actively serve through the military, national, or public service opportunities. However, over the past two decades, rates of volunteerism have declined. The national volunteer rate has not surpassed 28.8% since 2005 and dropped to a low of 24.9% in 2015.

“Civic engagement and giving back to one’s community are woven into the fabric of the American spirit. Service brings forth positive change and promotes unity across the nation. These bipartisan bills will help modernize our federal programs, establish new online platforms to help people find service opportunities, and provide more opportunities for volunteers to impact their communities, all while wisely using taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Young.

“Service comes in many forms and many people are eager to work in service to their communities and the nation. As citizens, we have a shared duty to this country and Congress can do a better job connecting people to meaningful service opportunities that will yield dividends for individuals and communities alike. Building new on-ramps to service and civic-engagement will help elevate national service and uplift people and communities. These bipartisan bills will strengthen capacity, infrastructure, and organizational effectiveness across a variety of service-based organizations, while encouraging innovation. We must modernize government personnel systems to attract and enable Americans with critical skills to enter public service. Effectively increasing opportunities for service and civic engagement strengthens our communities and the nation,” said Senator Reed.

“The combined impact of the Unity through Service Act and Volunteer Innovation Act would be tremendous. They would unite Americans together as leaders, neighbors, and citizens, as well as further amplify the deep assets in the corporate and social sectors to bring out the best in each other and in our communities,” said Marc McAleavey, Executive Director of Serve Indiana.

Volunteer Innovation Act:

The Volunteer Innovation Act establishes a pay-for-results program within AmeriCorps. This will allow community-based entities to access reliable volunteer pathways to achieve measurable success. Community-based entities can partner with a B Corporation providing new opportunities for capital influx to communities in need.

Specifically, the bill does the following:

  • Create an open format for community based entities to submit an application demonstrating how to achieve measurable, clearly defined outcomes that result in federal savings and social benefits.
  • Require the Chief Executive Officer for AmeriCorps to select between 4 and 6 projects reflecting the geographic diversity of the nation.
  • Achieve results by requiring the selected participant to meet outcomes in order to receive payment.
  • Ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely through a report to Congress and AmeriCorps.

For the bill text, click here.

Unity through Service Act:

The Unity through Service Act would establish a Council to advise and coordinate action on policies and initiatives designed to foster an increased sense of service, promote and expand opportunities for service, develop and oversee cross-service initiatives, and cultivate pathways for Americans to develop critical skills to address national needs.

The legislation also promotes cross-service marketing, recruitment, and retention through joint advertising campaigns, shared market research, and cross-service referrals. Critically, the Unity through Service Act would create a service platform to enable individuals to learn about the full range of available service opportunities and match them with programs that fit their interests, qualifications, and goals.

“Service Year Alliance is proud to endorse the Unity through Service Act, which if enacted would bring together, elevate, and raise awareness about the various opportunities to serve our country through military, national, and public service. By creating a White House Council on Service, launching a streamlined online platform for people to easily apply to all service positions, and directing joint recruitment efforts across all types of service, we would lay the groundwork for a national call to service that this nation so desperately needs while simultaneously making the opportunity to serve more accessible to all,” said Kristen Bennett, Chief Strategy Officer at Service Year Alliance. “This bill reflects many of the top national service recommendations from the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service’s Inspire to Serve report that we were proud to support. We urge Congress to pass the Unity through Service Act to help build better connections and bridge divides among Americans.”