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Do Community Service Requirements Decrease Volunteerism?

While “service learning” is popular in many schools, with 19 states granting graduation credit for volunteer work, a recent study suggests that mandatory volunteer work may actually result in a decline in long-term volunteering from students. Sarah D. Sparks, writing for EdWeek, makes the case that incentivizing service learning in schools, rather than outright mandating it, may help students become more invested in volunteerism.


Volunteering America

Over at the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), Diana Aviv, President and CEO of the Independent Sector, a network of philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, provides an update on volunteering in America. “The generous act of volunteering in America,” she writes, “is as vast and varied as the country itself. Some 64 million Americans—roughly one-fifth of our population—engaged in a formal volunteer activity during the past year. The UK-based Charities Aid Foundation’s 2011 World Giving Index ranked the U.S. first in ‘giving,’ as measured by three behaviors: helping a stranger, volunteering time, and giving money.”


Are Americans still bowling alone?

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of his visit to America that “Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of dispositions are forever forming associations. . . . Nothing, in my view, deserves more attention than the intellectual and moral associations in America.” Writing 160 years after Tocqueville, the American political scientist Robert Putnam described in his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community that Americans were becoming less likely to participate in these associations—that instead of joining bowling leagues, they were “bowling alone.” That was over ten years ago. How are Americans faring today?


Volunteering rate reaches five-year high

According to the new “Volunteering and Civic Life in America” report issued yesterday by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), Americans volunteered in 2011 at significantly higher levels than in 2010, with the national volunteer rate reaching a five-year high.