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Obama Signs Bill Expanding National Civilian Service Corps

President Obama signed a $5.7 billion national service bill that will triple the size of the AmeriCorps program and renew the call for community involvement. Analysts mull the new measure.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next, a major expansion of national service programs. Gwen Ifill has that story.

    BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: We need your service right now at this moment in history. I'm not going to tell you what your role should be; that's for you to discover. But I'm asking you to stand up and play your part.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Responding to a surge of interest in hands-on volunteering around the country, President Obama today signed legislation that could triple the size of the AmeriCorps national service program.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    I've seen a rising generation of young people work and volunteer and turn out in record numbers. They're a generation that came of age amidst the horrors of 9/11 and Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an economic crisis without precedent. And yet despite all this, or more likely because of it, they've become a generation of activists, possessed with that most American of ideas: that people who love their country can change it.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Since AmeriCorps was created in 1993, 75,000 volunteers each year have pitched in to educate children and the disadvantaged, clean parks and streams, build affordable housing, and feed the hungry.

    The president spoke today at a Washington, D.C., boarding school that focuses on learning through service.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    Programs like these are a force multiplier. They leverage small numbers of members into thousands of volunteers. And we will focus their service toward solving today's most pressing challenges.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The $5.7 billion bipartisan measure was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, received an extended ovation today.

    SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), Massachusetts: This is a wonderful day…for all of our country and all Americans who will now have a chance and the opportunity to give back to their communities and the nation, the nation that we love so much.

  • VOLUNTEER:

    What would we have to use to get 625?

  • GWEN IFILL:

    AmeriCorps rewards its volunteers with education assistance, $1.6 billion during the last 16 years. Online applications are up 234 percent this year.

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