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October 20, 1999: A Commitment to Community Service

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PRESIDENT CLINTON:
CELEBRATING A COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY SERVICE

"AmeriCorps members are living up to the highest obligations of citizenship creating opportunity, taking responsibility, fostering community. In state after state, community after community, AmeriCorps members have proven that they are one of the smartest and best investments America can make."

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, October 20, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted over 1,000 AmeriCorps members and supporters to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the national service program The President recognized 21 AmeriCorps award winners for their extraordinary commitment to service, and announced an initiative to engage AmeriCorps alumni in continuing service to their communities. While highlighting the bipartisan support for AmeriCorps, the President called on Congress to pass a budget that honors the values of the American people and makes education our number-one priority.

Keeping Community Service Strong. In 1993, President Clinton outlined a vision for a national service program that would allow young people to serve their country while earning funds for a college education. The result of that vision is AmeriCorps, which brings together people of different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds to solve community problems and improve the lives of Americans across the country. Since the program's inception 5 years ago, over 150,000 AmeriCorps members have served nearly 33 million people in over 4,000 communities, providing much-needed assistance from tutoring and mentoring to disaster relief and environmental work. Today, President Clinton signed into law the VA/HUD/Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill, which includes $438.5 million for AmeriCorps, funding that will support nearly 50,000 AmeriCorps members in community service projects nationwide. The President praised the bipartisan support that the AmeriCorps program has received, and pledged to continue his efforts to expand the program to 100,000 new members each year.

Recognizing Outstanding Service. At today's ceremony, the first-annual All-AmeriCorps awards were presented to 21 AmeriCorps members who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities. The awards were presented by Gen. Colin Powell, Gov. Michael Leavitt of Utah, Sargent Shriver, and Coretta Scott King.

Engaging AmeriCorps Alumni in Service. In taking the AmeriCorps pledge, each AmeriCorps member promises: I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond. Today, President Clinton renewed the call to service to over 150,000 former AmeriCorps members by announcing an initiative that will provide them with continued service opportunities in their own communities. The initiative involves a strategic alliance between the Corporation for National Service and leading non-profit organizations, including the American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the United Way.

Calling for a Budget That Reflects Our Priorities and Values. President Clinton called on Congress to pass a budget that makes education the nation's number-one priority, including measures to:

  • hire additional highly trained teachers to reduce class size in the early grades;
  • invest in accountability to help turn around failing schools;
  • fund after-school and mentoring programs, and
  • build or modernize 6,000 schools nationwide.


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