Newsletter – March 2008

Gov. Schwarzenegger Announces First-in-the-Nation Secretary for Service and Volunteering

Photo of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger On February 26, Governor Schwarzenegger took the first-in-the-nation action to encourage volunteerism in California and to improve coordination of volunteer efforts between the state’s departments and agencies. The Governor signed an executive order to establish the new position of secretary of service and volunteering. The secretary will be a member of the Governor’s Cabinet.

“Government can give direction, it can provide an impetus, but real change has to come from each and every one of us. I want to move civic engagement to the highest levels of state government, which is where it belongs,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Californians’ desire and will to serve are there in abundance. We must do everything we can to harness this incredible resource.”

The executive order, signed Tuesday by the Governor, will raise the profile of service in the Golden State to a national level; improve coordination of vital volunteer activities statewide and support local service efforts; encourage more Californians to become involved with service and volunteerism; help California respond to natural disasters and emergencies; and give California’s volunteers a voice at the highest levels of state government. This is all without adding any new net costs to the state budget.

“I’m a big believer in uniting people to create change and achieve a positive legacy in their own lives, in their communities, in their state and beyond and it is through the act of service that this goal can be attained. Today as we elevate service, we elevate our fellow Californians to be 38 million strong,” said First Lady Maria Shriver.

California’s volunteers have a positive multi-billion dollar impact on the state’s economy every year. In 2006, volunteers contributed approximately 858 million hours of service to the California economy—a value of more than $17.4 billion. A one percent increase in the number of Californians who volunteer would equal approximately 365,000 new volunteers contributing 48 million hours—equal to nearly $1 billion in service to the state.

The Governor’s action gives volunteerism a stronger voice and greater visibility and will encourage millions of Californians to make their valuable skills available. As demonstrated by the thousands of concerned Californians who stepped forward to volunteer during last year’s wildfires and the San Francisco Bay oil spill, a stronger, more coordinated volunteer force will make California even better equipped to respond to resident’s everyday needs, as well as wildfires, floods, heat waves, winter freezes, mudslides, earthquakes, disasters and emergencies.

Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver are committed to strengthening California’s volunteer force. Under their leadership, CaliforniaVolunteers launched, which features the largest and most sophisticated statewide online volunteer matching system in the nation. Since the launch, the number of monthly web-based referrals of volunteers from CaliforniaVolunteers’ local partners to non-profits has increased by nearly 500 percent. Maria Shriver serves as the honorary chair of CaliforniaVolunteers.

“I commend California for taking civic engagement and volunteerism to a new level by announcing a cabinet level secretary of service and volunteerism. AmeriCorps and other service programs provide a wonderful avenue for strengthening our communities while addressing our pressing needs in education, environmental protection, public health, and the environment. This new position will help to ensure that California’s volunteers are fully integrated at the highest levels into the state’s efforts to build a better California,” said Senator Hillary Clinton.

“Service to one’s country and community is the most noble of things an American can give. For a state the size and influence of California to elevate service and volunteering to such a prominent position in government says a lot about the state’s people and about the priorities of Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver. I’m impressed and applaud California for working to harness and spotlight the selfless time and energy given by its volunteers,” said Senator John McCain.

“America is a great nation precisely because Americans have been willing to stand up when it was hard, to serve on stages both great and small, and to rise above moments of great challenge and terrible trial. At this defining moment in our history, the Governor’s decision to elevate civic engagement to such an important level reminds us that the call to serve is one that transcends partisanship and has the power to unite this generation around a common purpose,” said Senator Barack Obama.

The Governor also announced the appointment of CaliforniaVolunteers Executive Director Karen Baker as the secretary of service and volunteering.

“Karen Baker does a fantastic job managing CaliforniaVolunteers,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “By elevating the state’s volunteer profile we will make it easier for people to figure out where to go and what to do when they want to give their time or their resources.”

Facts and Related Media Stories About Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Announcement

Karen Baker on stageExecutive Order

Fact Sheet

Video of Announcement Event


Governor’s Speech

Video of Former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford Discussing Governor’s Announcement

Video of Karen Baker Discussing New Role

Guest Host Secretary of Service and Volunteering Karen Baker Discusses Volunteerism in California in Governor’s Weekly Radio Address

Comments on Governor’s Announcement

Press Coverage:

New York Times: California Creates Cabinet Post To Manage Volunteers

TIME: Schwarzenegger’s Radical Volunteering

Los Angeles Times: Governor gives volunteerism a boost to cabinet rank

San Francisco Chronicle: New state Cabinet post devoted to volunteers

Sacramento Bee: Governor sees Cabinet post as way to tap the volunteer spirit

Steve Wiegand: Volunteer revival is envisioned

San Jose Mercury News: Editorial: Schwarzenegger’s move boosts profile of volunteerism

San Diego Union-Tribune: Elevating The Role Of Volunteerism by Karen Baker

Ventura County Star: Editorial: Giving back gets a boost

AP: Schwarzenegger creates cabinet job for volunteerism

KMPH Fox 26 (Fresno): Governor Boosts Volunteerism

ABC7 (San Francisco): Governor Schwarzenegger recognizes the value of volunteers in California

KCBS Radio (San Francisco): Schwarzenegger Adds Disaster Relief Manager to Cabinet

KCBS Radio (San Francisco): California Names Volunteer Czar

KPCC Radio (Southern California): Schwarzenegger Creates Cabinet Position to Encourage Volunteerism

Newly Appointed Secretary of Service and Volunteering to Begin Eleven City Listening Tour

Photo of Karen BakerFollowing the Governor’s announcement on February 26, the Secretary will participate in an eleven-city listening tour to discuss the new position and the implications for the service and volunteering field. There will be four types of stakeholders (funders, nonprofits and volunteers centers, AmeriCorps grantees and disaster response organizations) that will be brought together to discuss the issues outlined below.

Exploring Potential Partnerships
At these meetings, participants will:

1) Discuss future opportunities for CaliforniaVolunteers to work with corporate and philanthropic leaders to enhance and strengthen California’s volunteer, non-profit and disaster response sectors.

2) Provide input regarding how state leadership can partner with the funding community to expand the impact of service, volunteering, disaster volunteers and donations management in times of disaster through statewide initiatives.

Nonprofits and volunteer centers
Volunteer Opportunities in California
These discussions will:

1) Engage nonprofits and public agencies in a dialogue to better understand the status of and needs for volunteering in local communities.

2) Explore opportunities to build partnerships and tackle the barriers to volunteering in California and how state leadership can help grow the service and volunteering community.

Disaster Volunteer Summits
Enhancing and Understanding Volunteer Coordination in Disaster
The purpose of the Summits is twofold:

1) To familiarize public, private, and non-profit organizations within each California mutual aid region of the volunteer resources available and how to access them in times of disaster.

2) To increase the capacity of local, regional, and state emergency management organizations to manage volunteer resources during emergencies and disasters.

Strengthening AmeriCorps in California
These meetings with existing California AmeriCorps grantees will discuss:

1) The current relationship between community programs and CaliforniaVolunteers, including the impact of training and technical assistance implementation and current communications.

2) The role of the state in supporting AmeriCorps programs and the potential challenges facing local programs.

Cesar Chavez Day 2008

Photo of Cesar ChavezCaliforniaVolunteers administers the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning program and engages K-12 students in service in honor of the life and values of Cesar E. Chavez. This year, in partnership with Youth Service California, CaliforniaVolunteers awarded grants for the formation of 77 afterschool service clubs in Title 1 middle schools across California.

Together with the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation and Youth Service California, CaliforniaVolunteers has developed curricula to guide these afterschool service clubs as well as school day activities. Although intensive support is limited to CaliforniaVolunteers grantees, the curricula will be available online to all interested afterschool programs.

Finally, to celebrate and commemorate Cesar Chavez Day (March 31) CaliforniaVolunteers is partnering with KaBOOM! and more than 3,000 community volunteers to construct 10 playgrounds in communities across California. These playgrounds will be placed at local parks and community-based facilities. To learn more about the playground building effort or to volunteer, please click here.

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