National service can connect America’s young people to opportunity and community—and promote work of real social value

Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman, Brookings Institution

An expanded national service program can help address these problems. National service programs such as AmeriCorps, YouthBuild, and conservation corps put young people to work on a variety of socially useful activities: tutoring children, building affordable housing, assisting with disaster response, maintaining public infrastructure, and restoring the environment. In return, they earn a modest living allowance and a small educational scholarship. By working together on shared, concrete endeavors, young people from different backgrounds can build trust with one another in a way that more abstract calls for mutual understanding cannot accomplish.

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