Obama, Clinton Mark AmeriCorps Anniversary, Push Jobs

U.S. President Barack Obama is enlisting private-industry representatives in a push to streamline job opportunities for AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni, as his predecessors help celebrate their work.

Former President Bill Clinton returned to the White House today to mark the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps. As part of the occasion, Obama announced a plan to connect volunteers with the private sector after their service -- an event that also marks the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps.

Obama has commitments from Comcast Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and CSX Corp. to give participants in the domestic and international service programs a leg up on job applications.

“Citizens who perform national service are special,” Obama said today from the South Lawn of the White House. “You want them on your team.”

More than one million individuals have participated in AmeriCorps or served in the Peace Corps, according to the administration. The goal of Obama’s initiative is for companies to provide special hiring consideration, guarantee job interviews or, in some cases, create positions solely for service volunteers.

Clinton signed the bill that created AmeriCorps in 1993. Since then, more than 900,000 people have participated in the program, Wendy Spencer, the chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a government agency that oversees AmeriCorps, said today.

Creative Cooperation

Clinton today called the creation of AmeriCorps “one of the most important things I ever had a role in in public service.”

“Creative cooperation beats constant conflict every single time,” Clinton told the audience full of past and current AmeriCorps participants. “You prove that every day.”

Former President George H.W. Bush, is marking the occasion by participating in an AmeriCorps pledge ceremony in Kennebunkport, Maine, and former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are appearing in a video celebrating the anniversary.

“There has been a bipartisan spirit, at least on the executive level, on this issue,” Clinton said.

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