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Larson Announces ACTION for National Service

May 29, 2019
Press Release

Hartford, CT – Today on President John F. Kennedy’s birthday, Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) announced that he will be reintroducing America’s Call to Improve Opportunities Now (ACTION) for National Service with Reps. Joe Kennedy (MA-04) and Seth Moulton (MA-06).  ACTION for National Service will help young people pay for college in return for participation in national service. It would also put the federal government on track to supporting one million service positions annually, creating a more engaged citizenry, and addressing national priorities in education, infrastructure, health care, disaster relief, and poverty.  The legislation renews President John F. Kennedy’s call to serve your country. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate, alongside Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

“President Kennedy created a legacy that focuses on serving your country. ACTION for National Service renews that call and gives young people who want to serve their communities the ability to fund their education. Americans want to serve, but often times due to lack of funding, they are turned away. We can change this, by expanding opportunities. This will not only strengthen our communities, but help address the high cost of higher education for many,” said Rep. Larson.

“I’m pleased to join with Congressman Larson in this effort to increase volunteerism, strengthen our nation, and help transform communities across the country.  This legislation will grow our capacity to enlist, equip, and empower young people to address pressing challenges while creating opportunities for advancement with respect to their education and job prospects.  It will connect more Americans to opportunities to serve and provide tangible benefits to those who give back,” said Senator Reed, who, along with the late-Senator John McCain established the independent National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service in 2017 and is the lead Senate sponsor of the bill.

“In every corner of this nation, on every street and within every building, Americans quietly protect, serve, and care for their neighbors every single day. When we organize that compassionate spirit and harness that diligent service to achieve our greater good, we can unleash the full potential of our country through our most abundant strength – our people. By passing the ACTION for National Service Act, we can ensure no hopeful volunteer or aspiring public servant is turned away as long as there is a single neighbor in need,” said Rep. Kennedy III.

“Every American should have the chance to do their part for our country," said Rep. Moulton. “Expanding public service is an opportunity to give Americans a mission that unites us and helps us confront the challenges our country faces. It is also the chance for Americans to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and brings us closer to a day when serving the country isn’t a requirement, but an expectation.”

America’s Call to Improve Opportunities Now (ACTION) for National Service Act would achieve the following goals:

1. Reduce the burden of student loan debt by ensuring young people who serve two full terms of service are rewarded with an educational benefit equal to four years of average in-state tuition where their college is located.

2. Ensure that the educational benefit is exempt from federal taxes.

3. Advance national and community service as a civic and national priority by elevating the Corporation of National & Community Service (CNCS) to a new Cabinet-level agency

4. Support at least one million full-time federal service positions a year—providing all who wish to serve the opportunity to do so.

5. Increase access to national service opportunities by raising AmeriCorps living stipend amounts.

6. Create a 21st Century American Service Outreach Program to notify eligible individuals about opportunities to serve.

Right now, less than 1 percent of the nation serves in the military, AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps combined—but not through lack of interest. In 2012, AmeriCorps alone received nearly 600,000 applications, but was forced to turn away nearly 80 percent of those who just wanted to make a difference in their communities. Americans who wish to serve should be encouraged to do so, and we have the power to do that.

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