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The Future of National Service

Authors


David A. Reingold is a professor of public policy and executive associate dean in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Currently, he is chairman of the Indiana Commission on Community Service and Volunteerism. From 2002 to 2004, he served as director of research and policy development at the U.S. Corporation for National and Community Service.
E-mail:reingold@indiana.edu

Leslie Lenkowsky is a professor of public affairs and philanthropic studies in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. He served as chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service from 2001 to 2003. His research interest is public policy and the nonprofit sector.
E-mail:llenkows@indiana.edu

Abstract

Passage of the Serve America Act in 2009, reauthorizing the nation’s national and community service programs, represented an important milestone. It was the first time these programs and its parent government agency, the U.S. Corporation for National and Community Service, were reauthorized by Congress since the early 1990s. While advocates of national and community service have hailed the passage of this bill as evidence that these initiatives work and will play an increasingly important policy role, this level of enthusiasm is not well founded. The role that national and community service will play in public policy in the future is, at best, apt to be a modest one. The authors argue that national and community service will continue to underachieve and fall short of the claims made by advocates until it can gain true bipartisan support, clearly define program goals, and produce rigorous empirical evidence demonstrating the impact of these programs.

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