Inspiring Universal Voluntary Service Among American Youth

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United States. National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. Inspiring Universal Voluntary Service Among American Youth. Feb. 21, 2019. (statement of Robert T. Grimm, Jr., Director, Do Good Institute).


Chairman Heck, Vice Chair Gearan, Vice Chair Wada, and distinguished members of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to you today as our country faces an urgent need to turnaround historic declines in service and overall civic life. Just a few months ago, our Do Good Institute released research emphasizing that the percentage of Americans volunteering and giving is at the lowest point in approximately fifteen years. These negative trends are widespread across our nation: 31 states have experienced a significant decline in volunteering since the post 9/11 years while not one state in our union has experienced a significant increase in volunteering over that time period. The importance of recognizing and addressing Americans' declining participation in their communities and country cannot be overstated.

As the Director of the Do Good Institute and the Levenson Family Chair in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership in the School of Public Policy and at the University of Maryland, I have the honor of leading an effort that is countering these negative national trends by equipping and empowering a new generation of young people to apply their passions and ideas to transform our world for the better. We are working to create a new model for higher education called the Do Good Campus, with an ambitious goal of engaging all University of Maryland students from orientation to graduation and beyond in multiple, high quality service experiences that will lead them to do good and serve their country and world for a lifetime.

After describing the troubling trends facing our nation and underscoring the importance of your work, I appreciate the opportunity to outline our experiences implementing the University of Maryland's Do Good Campus strategy, a model that could be adapted and replicated in schools and universities across the United States. I will close my testimony with policy ideas that could inspire a movement towards universal voluntary service in the United States.1 I had the great privilege of serving in the federal government from 2002 to 2010 and ultimately worked on many of the Commission's core policy issues as the Senior Counselor to the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as well as its Director of Research and Policy Development during the administrations of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. The federal government will need to play an important role in advancing new, innovative models of service to address our current challenges.