National Service Program Gets Boost
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
I'm Robert Siegel.
And now, good news for college students worried about finding jobs. President Barack Obama signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Among other things, the $5.7 billion measure triples the size of the AmeriCorps program from 75,000 to 250,000 volunteers over the next eight years.
BARACK OBAMA: Programs like these are a force multiplier. They leverage small numbers of members into thousands of volunteers, and we will focus their service toward solving today's most pressing challenges, clean energy, energy efficiency, health care, education, economic opportunity, veterans and military families. We'll invest in ideas that help us meet our common challenges no matter where those ideas come from.
NORRIS: That's President Obama appearing at a D.C. charter school today where he was introduced by Senator Kennedy, long a champion of public service. It was a rare appearance for the senator who is battling a brain tumor.
EDWARD KENNEDY: Kennedy, Barack Obama summoned our nation to a new era of service. He said, I believe with all my heart that this generation is ready and eager and up to the challenge. Mr. President, I couldn't agree more. Don't you?
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)
SIEGEL: Senator Edward Kennedy. The stage was plenty crowded with key lawmakers, First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
OBAMA: He created AmeriCorps, and that's not only made this day - possible, it has directly enlisted more than half a million Americans in service to their country, service that has touched the lives of millions more.
NORRIS: The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act still needs money from Congress, but supporters note that it passed with strong bipartisan support.