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Enabling Our Volunteer Workforce


October 23 -- In this season marked by economic challenge, this year’s 19th annual national Make A Difference Day, which took place on October 24, was a breath of fresh air. People from a wide range of backgrounds joined together to make a difference in their communities, creating change and combating the feelings of powerlessness many Americans are experiencing due to the economic downturn.

Make A Difference Day provided a key moment to celebrate the new swell of volunteers flocking to improve the quality of their communities. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, neighborhood engagement levels have risen sharply since 2007, with a 31 percent increase in the number of people who worked with their neighbors to fix a community problem.

President Obama has made the call to get citizens involved in service through the United We Serve campaign and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. This important bipartisan legislation will change the course of civic responsibility in our nation. Prioritized funding through the Volunteer Generation Fund will help ensure that non-profit organizations can actually train, equip and mobilize people, our greatest national resource, to change their communities and country.

We clearly see that mobilization is happening. People from all sectors are answering the presidential call to service to tackle the nation’s toughest problems. Now we need to strengthen our civic infrastructure and ensure that we take advantage of the upsurge in volunteerism and engaged citizenry as partners with the public and private sectors is vital to our nation’s social and economic health.

Creating more volunteer leaders is an essential step to maintain this momentum. We must train a vast volunteer network to lead efforts, develop additional leaders and motivate others to engage in service.

University of Phoenix is answering the presidential call through a partnership with HandsOn Network to help develop this new nation of leaders. In addition to supporting HandsOn Network’s activation for Make A Difference Day, University of Phoenix will be the premier partner of HandsOn University, creating a volunteer leader certification program and holding a self-organizing summit to empower those who stand ready to focus on specific community needs.

If you see a need in your community, you can address it. It starts with a single step: Go to to get started. Think about how to use your passion and skills to make a difference.

As a volunteer, you will truly get more than you give.

Michelle Nunn is CEO of the Points of Light Institute, which inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world and operates three business units: HandsOn Network, MissionFish and the Civic Incubator. Chas Edelstein is Co-Chief Executive Officer of Apollo Group, Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona, a leading provider of higher education programs for working adults.


 HandsOn Network
 University of Phoenix

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