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COVID-RELATED NATIONAL SERVICE CANNOT JUST BE GAP YEAR FOR PRIVILEGED YOUTH

Members of Public Allies New Orleans gathered together in 2019.

There has been a rush of calls for national service – including AmeriCorps & Peace Corps – to serve an increased role in the countries response to the health and economic fallout from COVID-19. America has a long and rich history of national service, often turning to it as a powerful lever in times of crisis such as in the aftermath of September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, and the Great Recession of 2008. Now should be no different.

However, as Public Allies CEO Jaime Uzeta stated in an op-ed published on OZY.com this morning, “. . . how we drive that expansion and who it serves must be central to our approach if we expect national service to meet our society’s most urgent post-COVID needs.” This crisis has disproportionately affected communities of color, both in terms of the health impact and the economic fallout. Any expansion of national service should therefore focus on enlisting individuals who already live in those communities. This can not just be another gap year solution for privileged youth.

“However, how we drive that expansion and who it serves must be central to our approach if we expect national service to meet our society’s most urgent post-COVID needs.”

Read the full op-ed here, and join us in calling for a next wave of national service composed of diverse, equity-driven, innovative leaders poised to work across silos, sectors, generations, and communities to redesign a post-pandemic future by and for everyone.