A good deal of Candidate Obama’s appeal, above all to young people, was his ability to link his ambition to their readiness to give of themselves. His stump speech featured that offer of college money contingent on community service, and the more teenagers there were in the hall, the more enthusiastically it was applauded. Last July, he laid out an ambitious plan in a speech entitled “A New Era of Service” at the Universtiy of Colorado, Colorado Springs. As detailed in this campaign white paper, it included expansion of the Corporation of National and Community Service and the Peace Corps; a range of service learning initiatives for college and high school students; and investments in the nonprofit sector.
Obama dedicated the day before his inauguration, Martin Luther King Day, to volunteer service, and he personally did some. But since taking office, the volunteer agenda has been sitting on the shelf. The New Era has yet to dawn.