The goal of the Kansas Corps is twofold. First, this new initiative would provide a network of volunteers on a large scale to address both local and statewide public issues.
For example, Kansas Corps could work closely with the Kansas Department of Emergency Management to provide needed services due to a tornado or other natural disaster; could be mobilized around a particular social service need; or these college volunteers could link together to address a particular community development assistance program in Kansas. Secondly, and equally important, the Kansas Corps would promote citizenship and civic engagement among the participating college students. This unique program would be a training ground for students to become more civically engaged and inspire their passion for social responsibility and active participation. Therefore, the Kansas Corps would create a new generation of Kansans who empower themselves and have the skills and capabilities to act on behalf of the greater good.
The Kansas Corps initiative proposes to focus on three primary areas of public need.
Structures, processes and networks will be designed to address the following public service issues:
Disaster Relief Services. College student volunteers would be mobilized in large numbers to provide a variety of emergency services during or following a local or state-wide disaster. Students could be trained to address events ranging from natural disasters to terrorism.
Social Services. College student volunteers would be called to assist with the development and/or operations of social service programs. For example, volunteers could be involved in the issues of homelessness, literacy, child development, or elderly services.
Community Development Assistance. College student volunteers would be assembled to assist Kansas communities with a variety of community development needs. College students could help construct playgrounds and public parks, assist with downtown renovation, or provide valuable resources and services to economically depressed regions of Kansas.
The Call to Serve:
Kansas has a long history of its citizens volunteering themselves for the betterment of others. Nearly every community in Kansas was built by volunteers who constructed civic buildings, schools, churches, and even their neighbors’ homes. In the 20th century, Kansans continued to serve and aid their fellow citizens. From the floods of 1951 and tornados in Udall (1955) and Andover (1991), to providing basic human services to those in need, Kansans were there for each other. Even recent events in Greensburg and southeast Kansas again illustrate the importance and role that community service can and must play. Government as well as the private sector can only do so much. Kansans of all ages must continually be encouraged to serve their fellow citizens.
According to the Corporations for National & Community Service, Volunteering in America: 2007 State Trends and Rankings in Civic Life, Kansas ranks fifth in the U.S. for total volunteering. However, our college students do not exhibit the same enthusiasm for volunteering, ranking a distant 36th nationwide. Kansas Corps will provide a necessary infrastructure and inspiration for college students to become more civically engaged.
In addition to calling for the development of a comprehensive proposal, the planning team would also like to encourage dozens of college students from the Kansas regents universities, community colleges, independent colleges and universities, and technical chools to participate in a “pilot project” testing the concept. Efforts are currently underway to identify interested schools and potential service projects with a possible implementation date in April 2008.
How Can I Help?
For more information about the Kansas Corps contact:
Dr. Curt Brungardt, Executive Director, Center for Civic Leadership, FHSU,
Mary Marston, Executive Director, Kansas Campus Compact,