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President Barack Obama Joins President George H.W. Bush to Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the 'Points of Light' Volunteer Movement and Extend the Call of Service to the Nation

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- On Friday, October 16, U.S. President Barack Obama will join U.S. President George Bush and more than 2,000 service leaders in Texas to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Points of Light movement and issue a new call to Americans to serve in their communities.

The anniversary marks President Bush's inauguration speech in 1989, in which he invoked "A Thousand Points of Light" to salute and encourage individuals to solve problems and improve their communities through volunteering and service. He backed up this idea by creating the Commission on National Service, which launched Federal activities supporting service. This idea and the framework for supporting it at a Federal level has endured and grown in the administrations of President William J. Clinton and President George W. Bush and now President Obama.

Michelle Nunn, Chief Executive Officer of Points of Light Institute said, "President Bush's contribution was extraordinary. Through the establishment of Points of Light, the passage of legislation that created pilot national service programs and launching the precursor of the Corporation for National and Community Service he founded the modern service movement. And we see the results in increased service, expanded stronger service learning, more business support and greater college-based service."

Points of Light Institute has been instrumental in driving the service movement. Since 1989, research from the Corporation for National and Community Service has found that the percent of Americans volunteering has surged, teen volunteering has doubled, business support for employee volunteering has become commonplace and high school and college-based service has reached new heights.

Under President Obama's leadership the pace of our service movement continues to grow. The passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act marked a new threshold of possibility with a dramatic expansion of national service and a Volunteer Generation Fund and Social Innovation fund to fuel human capital and change. President and Mrs. Obama made a call to action called United We Serve, and the Points of Light and Hands On Network became the largest on-the-ground support network answering the call, mobilizing and training a record number of volunteers.

According to Nunn, "HandsOn Action Centers reported more than 31,266 distinctive projects and volunteer referrals, experiencing a 60 percent growth in total volunteer "sign-ups" from the same period in 2008. At the conclusion of the summer service effort on Sept. 11, HandsOn Network orchestrated more than 919 projects, a 51 percent increase in Network participation compared to September 11, 2008.

President Obama and President Bush are expected to salute the volunteers that drove this response to the United We Serve campaign and the HandsOn affiliates across the country that is accelerating the impactful use of volunteers. The two presidents will meet and deliver remarks at the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, in front of 2000 service leaders from across the United States, students from the Texas A&M University and more than 250 recipients of the Daily Points of Light Award for volunteering.

The Presidential Service Forum will be webcast at

[Editor Note: Facts about American Volunteerism Attached]

About Points of Light Institute

Points of Light Institute inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. The Institute has a global focus to redefine volunteerism and civic engagement for the 21st century, putting people at the center of community problem solving. We operate three dynamic business units that share our mission: HandsOn Network, MissionFish and the Civic Incubator. We are organized to help people act upon their power to make a difference.

About Daily Point of Light Awards

The Daily Point of Light Award, created by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, honors individuals and volunteer groups around the country who are helping to meet critical needs in their communities and creating change every day and has a bi-partisan presidential legacy over the past two decades. Points of Light Institute selects the awardees through a nominations process that is open to the general public.

Facts about American Volunteerism:

Volunteering Trends (1989 to Today)

23 million more Americans are volunteering today than in 1989.(1)

  • Since 1989, the reported number of Americans volunteering has increased from 38.04 million to 61.80 million last year, an increase of more than 60%.
  • The rate of volunteering since 1989 has increased by a third from, 20.4% of all Americans in 1989 to 26.4% last year.

More than twice as many youth are volunteering as volunteered in 1989.

  • 8.24 million young people ages 16-24 volunteered last year, compared to 3.53 million in 1989.
  • The volunteer rate for young people ages 16-24 has climbed over 60% from 13.4% in 1989 to 21.9% last year.
  • About a third of twelfth grade students (33%) volunteered at least once per month in 2006, up from 24% measured in 1991.
  • In 2008, 69.7% of students entering college believed it was very important to help others, the highest percentage since 1970, when 71.7% reported that they held this belief. In 1999, 60.8% of students entering college reported this belief.
  • Becoming a community leader is also increasingly important to youth, with 35.2% of entering freshmen last year rating it "very important" or "essential."

Baby Boomers and Older Americans are both over 40% more likely to volunteer than the same age groups in 1989.

  • For mid-life adults today (aged 45-64), the volunteer rate is over 29%, up from 22% in 1989.
  • Volunteering rates for Americans aged 65 and older rose from 16.9% in 1989 to 23.5% in 2008.

Volunteering with educational and youth organizations is up around 75%.

  • People are more likely to volunteer with educational or youth service organizations today than in 1989 (26.0% of volunteers, up from 15.1% in 1989) and with social or community service organizations (9.9% to 13.3%).
  • In 1989, the most common place for people to volunteer was with religious groups (37.4%) and today it is still the most common (35.9%).
    Trends in Volunteering: Volunteers By Age Group         1989    2008
    -----------------------------------------------         ----    ----
    Baby Boomer (45 - 64 years old) volunteer rate          22.0%   29.1%
    Adult volunteer rate                                    20.4%   26.4%
    Older Adults (65+) volunteer rate                       16.9%   23.5%
    Young Americans (16 - 24 years old) volunteer rate      13.4%   21.9%

    Trends in Volunteering: Volunteering with Organizations
     by Type                                                1989    2008
    ------------------------------------------------------- ----    ----
    Religious                                               37.4%   35.9%
    Educational or youth service                            15.1%   26.0%
    Social or community service                              9.9%   13.3%
    Hospital or other health                                10.4%    8.2%
    Other                                                    6.3%    6.6%
    Civic, political, professional or international         13.2%    5.5%
    Sport, hobby, cultural or arts                           7.8%    3.3%


Einolf, C. (2009). Will the Boomers Volunteer During Retirement? Comparing the Baby Boom, Silent, and Long Civic Cohorts. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 38 (2): 181-199.

(2008). Volunteering. Children Trends Databank:

(2009). Volunteering in America Research Highlights. Corporation for National & Community Service:

(2008). Community Service and Service-Learning in America's Schools, Corporation for National and Community Service. Corporation for National & Community Service.:

(2008). Volunteering In America: Information on volunteering and civic engagement. Corporation for National & Community Service:

(2008). Volunteering in the United States. United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Dote, L., Cramer, K., Dietz, N. & Grimm, R. (2006). College Students Helping America.. Corporation for National and Community Service:

Foster-Bey, J., Grimm, R., & Dietz, N. (2007). Keeping Baby Boomers Volunteering, Corporation for National and Community Service. Corporation for National & Community Service:

Pryor, J., Hurtado, S., DeAngelo, L., Sharkness, J. Romero, L., Korn, W., & Tran, S. (2008). The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 2008. Higher Education Research Institute:

Grimm, R., Dietz, N., Foster-Bey, J., Reingold, D., & Nesbit, R. (2006). Volunteer Growth In American: A review of trends since 1974. Corporation for National & Community Service:

Hayghe, H. (1991). Volunteers in the U.S.: Who donates the time? Monthly Labor Review, 114, 17-23.

(1) A slight difference between the Current Population Survey (CPS) instruments from 1989 and 2002-2008 makes comparisons imperfect. Respondents in later years received one additional prompt that respondents in 1989 did not. When the Corporation for National and Community Service adjusted the 2005 CPS data to eliminate the impact of the extra prompt, volunteer rates declined only fractionally. 2008 numbers have not been adjusted.

    Media Contact: James Peters
    Ketchum for Points of Light Institute

SOURCE Points of Light Institute

SOURCE Points of Light Institute
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