We were very happy to be joined by Jack Lew, United States Treasury Secretary and former Co-chair of the City Year New York Board at our MLK Day of Service. As a follow up, we asked him to answer a few questions and below are his responses:
- As the founding City Year New York Board Co-Chair, you were one of our very first supporters. Please tell us why you got involved and what about City Year and our mission has kept you interested all these years?
During the Clinton Administration, I was proud to help design the national community service legislation that started AmeriCorps. Launching City Year New York after September 11th was an important part of our city’s healing, and I was honored to be a part of that effort and chair its board. City Year has accomplished amazing work in our communities and in schools, and meeting energetic and dedicated corps members is always an inspiration. That’s what has kept me interested and will keep me involved in City Year’s mission.
- At our MLK Day of Service event, you spoke very passionately about our service and the work that AmeriCorps members are doing every day. Why should New Yorkers care about our work?
New Yorkers and all Americans should care about the work of City Year and care about giving back in general. Every community should have the chance to thrive and share in the nation’s prosperity. And each of us can and should play a role in building our communities. In our city and across the country there are communities in need where real challenges and disparities exist. Government cannot address these challenges alone, and the young people that sign up to serve in City Year have an opportunity to affect change, whether it’s through tutoring a child or participating in beautification projects. These actions can make a world of difference to children and families from underserved neighborhoods.
- When Michael Brown started City Year he had the vision that one day, the most commonly asked question of an 18-year-old will be: "Where are you going to do your service year?" How far are we away from his vision and what would it take to get there?
We have made significant progress in terms of getting young people to serve. President Obama believes deeply in the power of community service and signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act into law, which is expanding opportunities for Americans to serve their communities. Since the Act's signing, volunteering is up. The Administration also launched volunteer matching tools on Serve.gov, which is connecting those who want to serve with opportunities to serve. As we work together through service programs like City Year, we can make America stronger and achieve Alan Khazei and Michael Brown’s vision.