Experts Praise Barack Obama's National Service Plan

“In this call to action, Barack Obama points the way to a quantum leap in citizen service, at home and abroad, for Americans of all ages, from all walks of life. He has picked up the torch that John Kennedy lit -- and once again turned ‘Ask’ into a strong, challenging verb. Through this plan we can again show the world -- and show to ourselves --the best of America.” [Senator Harris Wofford, former Associate Director of the Peace Corps; former Special Assistant to the President Kennedy for Civil Rights; and former CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service]

“Across this country, Americans are faced with serious and mounting challenges - from struggling to pay the bills, to keeping their kids in school and building a better future for their families. Every day, social entrepreneurs are developing and implementing innovative solutions to meet these challenges, achieving greater results with fewer resources than many government programs. Just as public investment has supported major social initiatives in the past, a future president and administration can support social entrepreneurs and their effective solutions and, in doing so, affect measurable change. We're pleased that Senator Obama has recognized the critical work of social entrepreneurs, and has pledged to invest in these community based solutions that are moving the nation forward – one community at a time.” [Vanessa Kirsch, President of New Profit, Inc.; Co-Chair of America Forward]

“Senator Obama’s stirring call to public service is the strongest since John F. Kennedy’s 1960 request that all Americans, especially young Americans, ask what they can do for their country.” [Ted Sorenson, Special Counsel, Adviser, and Speechwriter for President John F. Kennedy]

“Barack Obama's national and community service plan is bold and creative. His plan builds on the best traditions of the past, from FDR to GWB, and adds important new ideas that can tap the service spirit in America. If his plan were implemented, millions of additional Americans would have new opportunities to serve their country and world and a culture of service, citizen and responsibility would have a rebirth.” [John M. Bridgeland, President of Civic Enterprises; former Director of the USA Freedom Corps; and former member, White House Domestic Policy Council under President George W. Bush]

"Senator Obama has outlined a comprehensive agenda for making the government a catalyst for effective citizen engagement. His proposals on supporting R&D, capacity-building, and organizational effectiveness in the social sector underscore his understanding of the field of social entrepreneurship and how capital-market dynamics and incentives applied to the nonprofit sector can drive significant social good." [Dr. Cheryl L. Dorsey, President of Echoing Green]

“Americans are looking for new and innovative ways to serve in their communities, and to help change our country. The number of young people participating in national service is on the rise, and has the potential to grow significantly in years to come. By targeting service into proven, innovative programs that are achieving real results, we can tackle some of our country's greatest challenges. Whether it’s helping lower drop-out rates, ensuring disadvantaged children start school ready to learn, preserving our environment, or eradicating poverty, enlisting Americans to serve can move our country forward while uniting us in a common cause. It is vital that presidential candidates call on all Americans to serve and provide meaningful opportunities to do so.

Senator Obama's national service proposal is a strong step forward.” [Alan Khazei Co-Founder of City Year; CEO of Be the Change]

“To make our nation stronger, we must learn to see our stake in our neighbors’ dreams and struggles as well as our own. For that and everything else, leadership matters. I believe there is only one candidate who can inspire the service and sacrifice that today’s difficult times demand: Barack Obama. His plan for national service gives each of us the opportunity to live those values, American values. It is another example of the leadership, the commitment, and the vision we need at this critical point in our history.” [Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts]

"There's a yearning in America, among people young and old, to be given both the inspiration and the opportunity to engage in service to their nation and community. Senator Obama's plan offers great ideas. It revives the spirit of the days when people were eager to ask what they could do for their country.” [Walter Isaacson, President of the Aspen Institute.]

“Across the country, social entrepreneurs are achieving real results in solving the nation's social problems, and with greater efficiency and impact than traditional approaches. Senator Obama's plan will help call attention to the important work happening outside of Washington to address the domestic challenges we face and foster even more innovation in the nonprofit sector.” [Kelly Ward, Director of America Forward]

“Speaking as an educator and former foundation executive, I am particularly impressed by the service learning component of Senator Obama's Plan for Universal Voluntary Citizen Service. A structured student service learning experience in high school and college enhances the teaching/learning process by both stimulating student academic aspirations and nurturing a sense of responsibility to serve the public good. These are powerful ingredients for the success of our educational institutions as well as America's civic culture. I heartily endorse what Senator Obama is seeking to accomplish for our nation.” [Don Stewart, former President of Spelman College; former President of The College Board; former President of The Chicago Community Trust]

“ As someone who has served in the United States Army and the House of Representatives, I applaud Senator Obama's push for national service. By boosting the number of people who work in classrooms, clean up our environment, assist veterans and respond to national emergencies, President Obama will engage Americans, so that together we can tackle the challenges of the 21stcentury." [Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA)]

“Barack Obama has put together a bold and comprehensive plan to expand service opportunities to all populations and key public issues through a variety of public agencies at home and abroad. It builds on organizational strengths, draws on Americans’ deep and widespread desire to serve, and will create momentum toward a unified society of people from all walks of life and all backgrounds offering their best to their country and to the world. It will support creativity and replicate innovative initiatives in the non-profit sector; it will take successful programs to scale toward ending poverty and despair. The implementation of this plan would liberate wonderful energy throughout our beloved nation. Many thanks for offering this vision.” [Dorothy Stoneman, President and Founder of Youth Build USA]

“Barack Obama and Michelle Obama understand from their own lives the transformative impact of service. They also know the difference that citizens can make tackling difficult challenges in their own communities. Obama’s plan for universal voluntary citizen service takes an idea that has earned bipartisan support and grows it to a new level so that citizens serving citizens, both at home and abroad, will be the new hallmark of American Democracy.” [Alan D. Solomont, Clinton appointee to the Board of the Corporation for National and Community Service(2000-2004); recently reappointed to the bipartisan Board by President Bush.]

''Senator Obama is wise to renew and reinvigorate America's call to citizen service and to look outside Washington D.C. for proven solutions to America’s toughest challenges. Throughout American history, American social entrepreneurs have invented and begun to expand effective innovations that solve problems. The volunteer fire department, settlement houses, community development corporations, and after-school learning programs were all developed by American social entrepreneurs and fueled by a creative combination of citizen volunteerism and strategic government investment; too much of what government currently funds does not work well. Senator Obama's call for a public-private partnership that looks outside Washington for proven and well-evaluated solutions and then brings these specific solutions to scale is an important way to increase American competitiveness and increase access to the American dream.'' [Eric Schwarz, President and CEO of Citizen Schools]

"Service in our communities is in Barack Obama's DNA. It is central to his experience. It is not surprising that he has made this issue a priority and approaches it with sincerity, commitment and imagination." [Richard Danzig, Fellow at the Center for New American Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies; former Secretary of the Navy; co-author of the 1986Ford Foundation financed study: National Service: What Would it Mean?]

“September 11, 2001 united Americans. Young and old, rural and urban, Republican and Democrat, we each yearned to serve our country. We hoped to be part of something bigger than ourselves and to play a small role in tackling formidable 21st century challenges. Unfortunately we were not summoned -- until today. Barack Obama understands that the conventional approach of solving problems from Washington won't cut it. He understands that the best weapons we have to combat terrorism, poverty, and global warming are the ingenuity, industriousness, and spirit of the American people. Obama is the first national leader who has the power to inspire people to sacrifice and the rigor to maximize its impact.” [Samantha Power, founder of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University]

"With the right amount of political commitment and public investment, social entrepreneurship has the potential to be as vital to the strength of our society as business entrepreneurship is to the strength of our economy. Social entrepreneurs and the programs they represent have on-the-ground results. They can show, in very human and tangible ways, how they are delivering results every day, child by child, community by community. Senator Obama's plan makes an important step forward in recognizing this work and improving the way we solve problems in this country.” [Kim Syman, Managing Partner of New Profit Inc., Director of The Action Tank]