News Release

Brookings, City Year, Common Cause Join in Conference to Promote National Service

April 10, 2002

The Brookings Institution, City Year, and Common Cause will hold a Conference on National Service as a way to build a stronger democracy on Friday, April 12. The conference brings together policymakers, young people who are doing service, and religious, business, labor, academic and non-profit leaders to discuss national service in concept and practice. Corporation for National Service Chairman Stephen Goldsmith will present and discuss President Bush’s USA Freedom Corps proposal.

Each of the three sponsoring organizations brings unique assets to bear on the issue: The Brookings Institution brings policy analysis and depth, Common Cause brings extensive legislative and grassroots experience, and City Year, an “action tank” for national service, brings its experience putting national service policy into practice. The conference will also serve as a celebration of the opening of City Year’s new national headquarters in Washington, DC. City Year seeks to demonstrate, improve, and promote the concept of national service as a means of building a stronger democracy.

“I strongly believe that developing a comprehensive system of voluntary national service is the most powerful way of fundamentally changing our society for the better,” says Alan Khazei, CEO and Co-Founder, City Year, Inc. “By creating the USA Freedom Corps, President Bush has seized an historic moment and brought us significantly closer to a time when national service will be a real opportunity—and common rite of passage—for all Americans.”

“September 11 changed America for ever, and one way that it did was to awaken a desire of millions of Americans to serve their country in a systematic way,” said Robert Litan, Vice President and Director of Economic Studies at Brookings. “One such method—which will be explored fully at this week’s forum on April 12 in DC—may be through a much expanded National Service program for young people and for others.”

“America has always been a nation of volunteers, and everyone from President Bush to Senator Kennedy wants to do more this year to nourish that spirit,” says Common Cause President Scott Harshbarger. “Our challenge is making national service the common expectation and common experience of all Americans.”

The conference is named for John Gardner, a leader in government, foundations, advocacy groups and the founder of Common Cause, who died in February after 89 years of service to America and the world.

Who: Sandra Feldman, president, American Federation of Teachers; Charles Kolb, president, Committee for Economic Development; Robert Putnam, president, American Political Science Association, Harvard University; Robert Litan, Vice President, Economic Studies Program, Brookings Institution; Alan Khazei, CEO and Co-Founder, City Year; Scott Harshbarger, president, Common Cause; E.J. Dionne of Brookings and the Washington Post; and Steve Goldsmith, chairman, Corporation for National Service.

Where: City Year Washington, DC Headquarters, 140 Q Street NE, Washington, DC.

When: Conference, Friday, April 12, 2002; 8:45a.m.-4:15p.m. Goldsmith speech begins at 11:50 a.m., camera set-up at 10:45, please.

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.