Newsletter – April 2009

Cesar Chavez Day 2009

Cesar Chavez Day 2009

To honor the life and legacy of Cesar E. Chavez, CaliforniaVolunteers is partnering with national nonprofit KaBOOM! and more than 1900 community volunteers to construct six playgrounds in communities across California. These playgrounds will be placed at local parks and community-based facilities.

“Cesar Chavez was a tireless advocate for service and community involvement, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate his legacy than to have a playground designed and constructed by members of the community,” said Karen Baker, Secretary of Service and Volunteering.  “Children should always have a safe place to play and it is truly inspiring to see a community come together and provide just that.”

To learn more about the playground building effort or to volunteer, please click on the build location in your area or visit

Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which reauthorizes and expands national service programming is scheduled to be signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday, April 21.

A summary of the Act is below:

Increased Opportunities for Americans of All Ages to Serve

  • Puts young people onto a path of national service by establishing a Summer of Service program to provide $500 education awards for rising 6th-12th graders, a Semester of Service program for high school students to engage in service-learning, and Youth Empowerment Zones for secondary students and out-of-school youth.
  • Dramatically increases intensive service opportunities by setting AmeriCorps on a path from 75,000 positions annually to 250,000 by 2017, and focusing that service on education, health, clean energy, veterans, economic opportunity and other national priorities. Ties the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to the maximum Pell Grant level (now $5,350, but set to increase over time).
  • Improves service options for experienced Americans by expanding age and income eligibility for Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions, authorizing a Silver Scholars program, under which individuals 55 and older who perform 350 hours of service receive a $1,000 education award, and establishing Serve America Fellowships and Encore Fellowships allowing individuals to choose from among registered service sponsors where to perform service. Also permits individuals age 55 and older to transfer their education award to a child or grandchild.
  • Enables millions of working Americans to serve by establishing a nationwide Call to Service Campaign and a September 11 national day of service, and investing in the nonprofit sector’s capacity to recruit and manage volunteers.

Support for Innovation and Strengthening the Nonprofit Sector

  • Creates a Social Innovation Fund to expand proven initiatives and provide seed funding for experimental initiatives, leveraging Federal dollars to identify and grow ideas that are addressing our most intractable community problems.
  • Establishes a Volunteer Generation Fund to award grants to states and nonprofits to recruit, manage, and support volunteers and strengthen the nation’s volunteer infrastructure.
  • Authorizes Nonprofit Capacity Building grants to provide organizational development assistance to small and mid-size nonprofit organizations.
  • Creates a National Service Reserve Corps of former national service participants and veterans who will be trained to deploy, in coordination with FEMA, in the event of disasters.

Strengthening Management, Cost-Effectiveness, and Accountability

  • Merges funding streams, expands the use of simplified, fixed amount grants, and gives the Corporation flexibility to consolidate application and reporting requirements. Increases support for State Commissions on national and community service. Bolsters the capacity and duties of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Board of Directors.
  • Ensures that programs receiving assistance under national service laws are continuously evaluated for effectiveness in achieving performance and cost goals.
  • Introduces responsible and balanced competition to the RSVP program.
  • Authorizes a Civic Health Assessment comprised of indicators relating to volunteering, voting, charitable giving, and interest in public service in order to evaluate and compare the civic health of communities.

Surviving and Thriving Tour

Surviving and Thriving Tour logoOver the past month, CaliforniaVolunteers has hosted a series of free, one-day conferences designed to provide nonprofit leaders access to key training and resources to help them effectively weather and thrive during the economic downturn. The series, which began on April 2 in Sacramento, has attracted hundreds of nonprofit executive directors, board members and leaders. Other stops on the statewide tour have included Los Angeles, Orange County, Rancho Cucamonga and Fresno. The last stop on the tour will take place on April 28 in San Francisco.

“I am approached daily by nonprofits and community-based organizations struggling to do more with less,” said Karen Baker, Secretary of Service and Volunteering. “These conferences are designed to strengthen our nonprofit sector by providing tools to address common challenges and better tap one of our greatest resources – our state’s volunteers.”

The Surviving and Thriving series is made possible through CaliforniaVolunteers’ public-private partnership with Bank of America and the Taproot Foundation. Sessions include how to effectively leverage volunteers, financial and operational tactics to weather the tough economic climate and how to better understand and communicate with nonprofit donors.

For more information about volunteering in California or the Surviving and Thriving Conference Series visit

2009 National Volunteer Week

2009 National Volunteer Week logoThe theme for National Volunteer Week, commemorated April 19-25, is “Celebrating People in Action.” The theme captures the meaning behind this signature week – honoring the individuals who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities.

Several local and national events will converge during this week to celebrate those who have strived to renew our national commitment and culture of service that has shaped America. The 2009 National Volunteer Week will include several significant recognition events celebrating leaders in the field of service, including a reception on Capitol Hill honoring Senators Kennedy and Hatch for their efforts behind the Serve America Act as well as an induction ceremony for the Extra Mile. CaliforniaVolunteers will honor the life and legacy of Cesar E. Chavez by sponsoring six playground builds in communities throughout the state on Saturday, April 25.

To learn more about National Volunteer Week 2009 or find a volunteer opportunity please visit

AmeriCorps Week (May 9-16, 2009)

AmeriCorps Week (May 9-16, 2009)AmeriCorps Week is a recruitment and recognition event designed to bring more Americans into service, salute AmeriCorps members and alums for their powerful impact, and thank the community partners who make AmeriCorps possible. AmeriCorps Week provides an opportunity for AmeriCorps members, alums, grantees, program partners, and friends to shine a spotlight on the work done by members in communities across the country — and to motivate more Americans to join AmeriCorps or volunteer in their communities. Since 1994, 574,000 people have served as AmeriCorps members nationwide.

Since 2004, California has had 81,464 AmeriCorps members that have served a combined 90,600,802 hours and received more than $200 million in Segal Education Awards.

This year’s AmeriCorps Week comes on the heels of congress passing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Corporation for National and Community Service and engage more Americans in service, including a major expansion of AmeriCorps to focus on critical national issues including education, health, clean energy, veterans, and economic opportunity.

There is also an AmeriCorps photo and video contest. For more information on this and other AmeriCorps Week activities please visit the AmeriCorps Week Web site.

California Green Jobs Corps

California Green Jobs CorpsImmediately after meeting with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in Sacramento to discuss federal economic stimulus funding and job creation, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger launched the California Green Jobs Corps. Building up communities and the state’s green workforce, the California Green Jobs Corps will prepare at-risk young adults aged 16-24 into jobs in California’s emerging green economy.

“President Obama and I share similar priorities right now when it comes to helping the economy rebound and creating a greener California and America,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “In California we will utilize federal economic stimulus funds and public-private partnerships to help stimulate our economy while initiating actions to improve our environment. Green jobs are exactly what our economy and environment need right now – and the California Green Jobs Corps targets that need while helping at-risk young adults realize a brighter future.”

Investing at least $10 million in federal economic stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Labor and an additional $10 million from public-private partnerships, the initial phase of the California Green Jobs Corps will consist of a 20-month pilot program reaching at least 1,000 of California’s at-risk young adults. The program will consist of a minimum of 10 regional Green Jobs Corps throughout the state – with at least one regional Green Jobs Corps located in each of California’s nine economic regions. All programs will be public-private partnerships that include green job training, a stipend, an educational requirement and community service.

To help ensure the success of the Green Jobs Corps, including its service element, the program will be housed under CaliforniaVolunteers.

This program furthers the goals of California’s Green Collar Jobs Council which was created when the Governor signed Assembly Bill 3018 in September 2008. The Council is charged with developing a comprehensive approach to address the workforce needs associated with California’s emerging green economy.

2009 National Conference on Service and Volunteering

2009 National Conference on Service and Volunteering logoThe National Conference on Volunteering and Service will be held June 22-24 at Moscone West in San Francisco. The conference is the marquee event for the nation’s growing service and volunteering field. Conference attendees participate in a variety of sessions, including general sessions, workshops, and immersion learning sessions to share best practices and develop new skills to strengthen volunteer and service programming.

To learn more about the conference please visit

WE Prepare

WE Prepare logoCaliforniaVolunteers continues to help ensure that Californians are ready for the next disaster. CaliforniaVolunteers recently organized “Disaster Proof Your Home” events in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area targeting influential mommy bloggers to share California’s first-of-its-kind online disaster preparedness effort, WE Prepare. With moms as the primary target, the WE Prepare campaign is designed to motivate families to take action and get prepared for both natural and man-made disasters.

The intimate events were designed to inform and engage moms about the importance of disaster preparedness using compelling speakers to discuss disaster preparedness tips in the home and allowing the mommy bloggers to share their own experiences. The events also featured an interactive “walkthrough” where a disaster preparedness specialist from the local fire department took the moms around the house while demonstrating “tips and tricks” to prepare their homes.

To see the social media coverage from these events, please visit the WE Prepare Media Corner.

Disaster Corps Road Show

CaliforniaVolunteers Disaster Corps logoAs the countdown to the launch of Disaster Corps begins, leaders from CaliforniaVolunteers, in partnership with CalEMA, embarked on a statewide tour to present the Disaster Corps vision and solicit feedback from the emergency management community. More than 500 participants in eight different cities engaged in the series of workshops. Representatives from local Citizen Corps programs, emergency managers, NGOs and local nonprofits had an opportunity to gain insights into the development of the Disaster Corps, the typing and classification guidelines currently under consideration, the benefits of Disaster Corps affiliation, and more importantly, provide their feedback to CaliforniaVolunteers.

“These program coordinator meetings were very beneficial,” said Sharron Leaon, director of disaster volunteering and preparedness at CaliforniaVolunteers. “It was important for us to showcase the immense progress we are making and also allowed us an opportunity to gain valuable input from our partners in the field.”

Based on the feedback received, CaliforniaVolunteers will continue to work with its various committees and workgroups to fine tune the Disaster Corps program.

The Disaster Corps is a state-sponsored, Governor led initiative designed to integrate, strengthen, and unify disaster volunteer programs under one name, one identity, and one brand. The Disaster Corps is a trailblazing program that will allow Californians an opportunity to volunteer their time, effort and passion in all phases of emergency management, including preparedness, response and recovery. The program is set to launch June 2009.

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