In the great unwinding of American civic society underway, and at a time when Americans are experiencing record-low trust in fellow citizens and American institutions,Brenan, Megan. “Americans’ Trust in Government to Handle Problems at New Low.” Gallup. February 14, 2019. few — if any — single policy solutions carry the promise of democratic renewal more than national service.73% of current high school students want to serve their country in government, military, or civic society (Service Year Alliance). Internal document. We have record youth interest in national service and a robust civic infrastructure already in place.According to the Urban Institute’s 2018 Nonprofit Sector in Brief, “the nonprofit sector contributed an estimated $985.4 billion to the US economy in 2015, composing 5.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Over 100,000 501(c)(3) public charities have annual expenses over $500,000–a good proxy for the capacity to host at least a couple young people doing a year of service.” American youth are clamoring to serve, yet the acceptance rates for all service opportunities are low: 13% for AmeriCorps,“AmeriCorps Week Marked From Coast To Coast.” Corporation for National and Community Service. March 23, 2012. 25% for Peace Corps,“The Peace Corps Announces Record-Breaking Application Numbers in 2014.” Peace Corps. October 8, 2014. and 20% for the military.Ernst, Douglas. “No, Uncle Sam Doesn’t Really Want YOU: Military Now Turns down 80% of Applicants.” The Washington Times. May 13, 2014.
The policy aims to vastly expand paid service opportunities through three key efforts: