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15. Promote Volunteerism

Volunteerism and community service have been a strong and important tradition in America ever since its founding. Across the country, faith-based groups, national and local non-profit organizations are on the front lines, working to improve lives in some of the hardest pressed communities in America. Americans are volunteering 20 percent more than they did 20 years ago and seniors are responsible for nearly all of this increase. Senior Americans are increasingly eager to contribute their time and talents. Working in partnership with States and local organizations, which are closest to the needs of Americans, the President proposes that the Federal Government do more to facilitate service opportunities for seniors. The President believes that retirement should be a time of economic security and physical well being and should also provide seniors more opportunities to serve their communities.

Expanding Opportunities for Senior Service

The population of older adults is growing rapidly, and it is expected that the aging of the baby boomers will accelerate this growth. The number of individuals aged 65 or older is estimated to double from 35 million to nearly 70 million in 2030. Seniors today are living longer than ever before, and can often anticipate up to 30 years of productive post-retirement years. The principal Federal vehicle for senior volunteerism is the National Senior Service Corps (NSSC), which was established in 1973. The program is now part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a publicly and privately funded entity that works with nonprofits, faith-based groups, schools, and other civic organizations to provide opportunities for Americans of all ages to serve their communities.

The Senior Corps uses the talents, skills, and experiences of more than 500,000 older Americans to help solve local problems. Members help meet a wide range of community needs, serve one-on-one with young people with special needs and help other seniors live independently in their homes. The NSSC consists of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, the Foster Grandparent Program, and the Senior Companion Program.

The budget helps ensure that opportunities for seniors to serve their communities and schools will be increased to accommodate the demand of the growing aging population and the changing nature of retirement. The budget supports three new initiatives in the Corporation to help increase service opportunities for America's seniors.

Increasing the Senior Corps Funding: The budget provides $203 million for the NSSC, a $14 million increase over 2001 and the first step of the President's five-year strategy to increase the annual funding for the Senior Corps to $250 million by the end of five years. This level will expand opportunities for an additional 17,000 senior volunteers to help meet the needs of children and frail adults in communities across the country.

Establishing the Silver Scholarship Program: A new initiative, the Silver Scholarship program, will allow older Americans to volunteer 500 hours of service tutoring and mentoring students in after-school programs in exchange for a $1,000 scholarship that can be deposited in an education savings account for use by their children, grandchildren, or another child. The budget includes $20 million for 10,000 Silver Scholarships.

Providing Service Opportunities for America's Veterans: The budget provides $15 million to establish the Veterans Mission for Youth program. The program will provide matching grants to community organizations that connect veterans and retired military personnel with America's youth through mentoring, tutoring, after-school and other programs.

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