Usher urges swift passage of Service America Act

Five-time Grammy winning recording artist and philanthropist Usher Raymond IV testified yesterday before the Education and Labor Committee in Washington, DC to plead for the swift passing of the Serve America Act, which President Obama referenced Tuesday night in his Congressional Address. At the invitation of Chairmans Miller and McCarthy, Usher detailed his own experiences as a youth leader – the entertainer is both the Youth Chair of Service Nation as well as Chairman of Usher’s New Look Foundation, which mentors youth in community service and life skills.

Usher echoed the President’s sentiments, referring to what he calls Generation “S”, for Service – the youth of America who he believes is ready to serve if given the proper opportunities and tools.

Usher was also joined in DC by his New Look President Shawn H. Wilson and 19-year-old college student and New Look alumnus, James Harris, who also testified and provided a living testimony to the power of engaging youth in service as a way to address social issues such as education and poverty.

The bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Edward Kennedy and Orrin Hatch specifically will:

* Create new corps focused on areas of national need, building on the success of AmeriCorps. Will support 175,000 members, expanding the number of participants to 250,000

* Enhance incentives for participants who are age 50 or older to serve and establishes “Encore Fellowships” to help retirees transition to longer-term public service

* Establish a National Service Reserve Corps to deploy trained alumni to natural disasters and other emergencies

* Expand opportunities for secondary school students and out-of-school youth in low income, high-need communities to participate in service-learning programs;* Create “Campuses of Service,” where students engage in service and service-learning; a larger percentage of Federal Work Study funds will be used for community service positions

* Strengthen the current “Volunteers for Prosperity” program, which coordinates and supports short-term international service opportunities for skilled professionals to serve in developing nations

* Establish a “Volunteer Generation Fund” to help nonprofit organizations recruit and manage more volunteers;* Provide a tax incentive to employers who allow employees to take paid leave for full-time service

* Provide a funding mechanism that helps scale effective programs

* Develop a social entrepreneur fellowship program for AmeriCorps alumni and veterans

Listed below are youtube links to both Usher’s and James Harris’ testimony.

– Usher Raymond IV’s Testimony – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G04v0KlJgD8&feature=related

-James Harris’ Testimony- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUCvTZjoTIY