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Champions of service have every reason to be upbeat going into this presidential election, in which both parties are promoting expanded government support for civic engagement. Their advocacy complements the efforts of a new set of social entrepreneurs who employ new technologies to foster a youthful resurgence of volunteerism. How government should go about inspiring and bolstering civic engagement is much less clear. For the past eight years, I have chaired the federal government agency charged with supporting volunteerism, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Our explicit assignment is to strengthen and expand how government helps communities extend civic involvement. We have aided, witnessed, and documented this encouraging burst of civic participation. For more than forty years, the highly respected Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, has collected data on first-year college students. In 2005, they reported a twenty-five-year high in the belief among first-year students that it is “essential or important to help others,” and those numbers remained steady in 2006.


Goldsmith, Stephen. "Service 2.0 and Cities." National Civic Review 97.3 (Fall 2008): 52-55.