On June 14th, 2006, The Brookings Initiative on International Volunteering and Service held its first large-scale working meeting. This gathering brought together a wide variety of representatives and stakeholders, including officials from the public sector. Corporations active in social responsibility, such as Pfizer and Timberland, joined managers from NGOs like Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Relief Service, Northwest Medical Teams, and many more, as program managers from all over the country converged on The Brookings Institution for a day of productive discussion. The meeting focused on barriers to “scaling up” international volunteering, and practical ideas to overcome those barriers-from increased public funding to best practices, innovative health care solutions, and expedited visa services.
During the closing plenary session, participants were joined by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Secretary Powell delivered remarks pertaining to international service, and America’s “Soft Power” resources. From personal anecdotes to no-nonsense statistics, Secretary Powell’s remarks provided a powerfully endorsement for the Brookings’ effort to dramatically increase the number of Americans who volunteer overseas every year.