In 1990, President George Bush created the Office of National Service in the White House and the Points of Light Foundation to foster volunteering. That same year, Congress passed, and President Bush signed into law, the National Community Service Act. This act authorized grants to schools to support service-learning and demonstration grants for national service programs to youth corps, nonprofits, and colleges and universities.
The Corporation for National and Community Service came into being when President Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. Congress stated its expectations for the Corporation in this statement of its purpose (42 U.S.C. § 12501):
- meet the unmet human, educational, environmental, and public
safety needs of the United States, without displacing existing
- renew the ethic of civic responsibility and the spirit of
community throughout the United States;
- expand educational opportunity by rewarding individuals who
participate in national service with an increased ability to
pursue higher education or job training;
- encourage citizens of the United States, regardless of age,
income, or disability, to engage in full-time or part-time national
- reinvent government to eliminate duplication, support locally
established initiatives, require measurable goals for performance,
and offer flexibility in meeting those goals;
- expand and strengthen existing service programs with demonstrated
experience in providing structured service opportunities with
visible benefits to the participants and community;
- build on the existing organizational service infrastructure
of federal, state, and local programs and agencies to expand
full-time and part-time service opportunities for all citizens;
- provide tangible benefits to the communities in which national
service is performed.
To fulfill these purposes, the operations
of three entities came together to form the Corporation-ACTION
(the Federal Domestic Volunteer Agency), which operated service
programs dating back to the War on Poverty of the 1960s; the Commission
on National and Community Service, which began during President
Bush's administration; and the Office of National Service, a division
of the White House that shepherded the new national service legislation
into existence. These organizations came together in the Corporation
to offer programs providing service opportunities for Americans
of all ages and backgrounds. Together they promote the ethic of
service and help solve critical community problems in every state,
many Indian tribes, and most territories.
The Corporation organizes its programs into three streams of service:
Learn and Serve America supports and promotes service-learning in schools, universities, and communities. Through structured service activities that help meet community needs, nearly one million students from kindergarten through college improve their academic learning, develop personal skills, and practice responsible citizenship.
AmeriCorps is the national service program that engages thousands of Americans of all ages and backgrounds in full-time and sustained part-time community service, and provides education awards in return for such service.
- The National Senior Service Corps is a network of more than 500,000 people age 55 and older who participate in the Foster Grandparent Program, the Senior Companion Program, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). These programs tap the experience, skills, talents, and creativity of America's seniors.
Through Corporation-supported local programs and projects, more than a million committed participants, volunteers, and service corps members are working to address the nation's unmet, critical needs in the environment, education, public safety, and areas of human need.