States across the nation have been innovating to expand civilian national service and volunteer opportunities to harness talent in solving public challenges and bridging social divides. Governors, in particular, have been leading efforts to make national service and volunteering a top priority in their states to address critical needs in local communities, including housing, economic mobility, public health, education and workforce shortages. This leadership has helped demonstrate how national service can increase economic opportunity in addition to having a positive impact on volunteers and the communities they serve.
To build upon this momentum, the Schultz Family Foundation has partnered with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) to launch a project to support Governors and state leaders in designing and expanding innovative national service models that address emerging issues in their states while creating service-to-career pathways, particularly for young adults from underrepresented and diverse communities. Through this project, the NGA Center aims to improve awareness, connection and partnership across state entities to create these innovative partnerships including through Governors’ offices, state workforce development leaders, state service commission leaders and community-based organizations. In addition to developing a playbook to highlight emerging effective practices and policy options, the NGA Center will host a two-day Action Lab workshop this Winter for state teams to learn from experts and develop implementation “action plans” to create and scale service-to-career pathways. States can begin applying for the Action Lab this Fall through a competitive application process led by the NGA Center.
To support this work, the Schultz Family Foundation released Increasing Access and Opportunity Through State-Led National Service Programs: Insights and Recommendations from the National Service Challenge. This paper provides learnings from the National Service Challenge, launched in 2021 by the Foundation and co-funded by the Ballmer Group. The Challenge has invested in eight states to pilot, expand and scale new state-led approaches to making service accessible and impactful for more young adults and communities. The paper offers recommendations for how states, when assisted by key partners, can better design national service programs to benefit individuals, communities and entire states. The eight states connected with the National Service Challenge are: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.