Advancing National Service

Big Bets: How to Bridge the Gap Between Practitioners and Policy Makers

June 23, 2014
by
Big Bets: How to Bridge the Gap Between Practitioners and Policy Makers
City Year members paint a basketball court. City Year
Alan Khazei's Boston-based nonprofit, Be the Change, creates bipartisan issue-based campaigns to inspire positive social change.

In 1987, Alan Khazei co-founded City Year, an education-focused national service nonprofit that served as the model for AmeriCorps, the federal community service program that was created seven years later by President Bill Clinton. But in 2003 Khazei found himself fighting for the organization he helped inspire. AmeriCorps funding was cut by 80 percent that year, so Khazei and around 700 AmeriCorps members descended on Washington, D.C., and gave around-the-clock testimony to get the funding back. The campaign helped restore all financing, and it helped AmeriCorps get a $100 million increase the following year. The experience also spawned Khazei’s next big project: Be the Change, a coalition-building nonprofit that is dedicated to promoting national service, working on social problems and empowering veterans. “It’s very ambitious,” Khazei says, “but if you get people together that are working to solve problems, they have the answers. They’re not ideological, they just want to see what works and how to make it happen.”

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