Make service a component of HOPE

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Fulfill HOPE with service stint

By Michelle Nunn

Georgia’s HOPE scholarship is one of the largest merit-based college scholarship programs in the United States, but it could be so much more. By rewarding both good grades and volunteer service, the HOPE scholarship could teach the rest of the nation how to produce educated, engaged citizens who know how to give back.

By requiring service, the HOPE scholarship would build on the legacy of the G.I. Bill, arguably one of the most successful and popular government programs in U.S. history. By the end of 1956, roughly 2.2 million World War II veterans used G.I. benefits to attend college. Giving veterans an education in return for their service helped create the “greatest generation,” building our country’s unparalleled economic strength and enriching our communities.

We recently increased the academic requirements for the HOPE scholarship in response to our state’s fiscal constraints. Today, high school students in Georgia earning a 3.0 grade point average or better qualify for scholarships to colleges in the state. That’s a great reward for academic performance. But if we’re eager to turn out good citizens, we have to do more.

Since 1993, Georgia has awarded HOPE scholarships worth almost $7 billion to more than 1.6 million students. Think of the impact on our communities and our students if each of them contributed by serving others. Tying service to scholarships would teach students that citizenship is a two-way street – benefits, yes, but responsibilities, too.

The value of student service time would add up in many ways, not the least of them economic. Last year, 203,000 students received HOPE scholarships. If we required each of these young people to spend just 100 hours volunteering while they were in high school, they would provide time worth nearly $150 million. Add a requirement to volunteer 50 hours each year during college, and we’d see an additional economic impact of $74 million.

Today, local governments and nonprofits face the challenge of providing more services with fewer resources. Student volunteers would bring energy and enthusiasm. And who knows, maybe some of these young people will come up with innovative solutions to community problems.

Research shows that service requirements benefit students in a host of welcome ways.

• Students who participate in community service are 22 percent more likely to graduate from college.

• Students who volunteer just one hour a week are 50 percent less likely to abuse drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.

• Youth who serve develop social and civic responsibility and are more likely to become lifelong volunteers, and to vote and participate as active citizens.

In addition, service learning motivates students to achieve and helps them develop leadership skills and self-confidence. Students who serve find mentors or career interests, encounter new worlds, beef up their resumes, and improve their chances of being accepted into the most competitive colleges and getting jobs.

Over the past few years, our legislators have been forced to change the HOPE scholarship’s eligibility requirements to maintain its economic viability. If we need to increase the requirements for eligibility again, let’s add a service requirement rather than continuing to increase the GPA. We need students who are committed to academic excellence and giving back to our state.

A service requirement for the HOPE scholarship would cultivate the next generation of civic leaders by keeping not only the brightest but also the best kids in Georgia.

Michelle Nunn is CEO of the Points of Light Institute in Atlanta.

9 comments Add your comment

Bumper

March 10th, 2013
10:52 am

The starting point for a discussion about making sacrifices on behalf of the Georgia Lottery needs to be the director’s $300,000 annual compensation – plus bonus. That’s generous for someone with no prior lottery experience who is just a caretaker in a mature lottery program that could probably run on auto pilot.

TaxPayer

March 9th, 2013
2:13 pm

If HOPE were funded by tax dollars, I would be more inclined to agree with something such as service to the community by the recipient in exchange for the money. As it stands though, lottery players get their shot at a prize and the state government gets to take credit for providing lottery money and students that put forth the effort to make good grades get a reward. It’s a win-win-win so let’s leave good enough alone. If you want to talk about a program that incorporates service then perhaps it should be something new.

zeke

March 9th, 2013
11:10 am

You know if you morons would quit changing the lottery and HOPE from what the voters originally approved these scum things would not be happening! GO BACK TO THE ORIGINAL APPROVED PLAN! OR, PUT IT BACK TO THE VOTERS FOR APPROVAL OF ANY CHANGE!

nel

March 9th, 2013
9:33 am

There is usually a mention of where the money to fund HOPE comes from, the Georgia Lottery.
It is improper to fund higher education for desrving students from gambling. That speaks loud and clear that it does not mater where the mony comes from as long as it goes to a good cause.

Gambling is a sinful, evil, vice. All the parents of HOPE candidates that have gone bust playing the lottery should have put that money towards the education of their children.
Let funding come from those that have benefited from higher education through HOPE.
Taking resposiblity through the guise of playing the lottery is unconscionable.

A reader

March 9th, 2013
9:28 am

What this article fails to take into account is that many students already perform community service. Many clubs in the school require a certain number of hours of community service from the members. In addition, many students participate in community service through their church. Other students perform community service as part of their scout program or other programs. Therefore I believe the additional benefit of $150 million is an overestimate.

Secondly, who would be responsible for the burden of documentation? I suspect that would fall onto the already over burdened school counselors.

David Hoffman

March 8th, 2013
11:43 pm

Bad idea. The HOPE scholarship does NOT pay all the costs for books, supplies, and fees needed to go to college or technical school. Many HOPE scholarship recipients still need support from parents or real jobs to pay the un-reimbursed costs of going to school. Who pays the transportation cost for going to these social programs? The students or their parents. Social service organizations want free labor. Children are easy targets from which to steal candy from. College students are easy targets, in the view of social service organizations, from which to steal time and money by coming up with mandatory service requirements in order to keep scholarships. Now if Michelle Nunn wants to increase the HOPE scholarship’s value by having ALL the transportation costs, as well as other un-reimbursed fees, supplies, and book costs, of going to college included in the scholarship than she might be justified in her request for some free labor “service” from college students.

Peter Erbele

March 8th, 2013
6:50 pm

Thoughtful and well-done!
Today’s youth are less in need of more academics and more in need of improved social skills. Requiring community service promises social explorations that will surely develop some of what is lacking in so many of our students.
Unfortunately, these service projects often devolve into “doing time”, (I direct hundreds of hours of community service) so I would recommend that the service requirement include a required “social” report describing the persons encountered during the service, the planned future encounters with these people, and the intended impact of maintaining a positive association with them in the future. The grade for the community service could then be based on criteria beyond X number of hours served, and could then be factored into HOPE eligibility.
Michelle,
If this is something you continue promoting, please use my non-published email to enlist me if you will. I would be honored. You are on to something.

Bernie

March 8th, 2013
5:46 pm

corrections: :)

Michelle, Forgive me my dear…but this is a suggestion that would be better served for the Politicians. If community service was made part of a politicians duty, we would certainly have Better Legislation of Laws being Proposed and enacted upon.

For Example, this WOULD go a long way, if The Governor and the Republican Office holders were required to perfom at least 100 hours of community service at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta or some other Children’s Healthcare facility. That would be enough time for All of them to rethink the WISDOM of moving forward with the current Medicaid Expansion Program implemented by the President.

They surely need to So they may see the many Faces of the Children along with the Tired but smiling Looks of the Many Mothers,Fathers, GrandParents and Guardians of those patients.
A Look, one would NOT SOON FORGET! EVER!

Bernie

March 8th, 2013
5:43 pm

Michelle, Forgive me my dear…but this is a suggestion that would be better served for the Politicians. If part community service is made part of a politicians duty we would certainly have Better Legislation of Laws being Proposed and enacted upon. For Example this go a long way if The Governor and the Repbulican Office holders were required to perfom 100 hours of community service at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. That would be enough time for All of them to rethink the WISDOM of moving forward with the current Medicaid Expansion Program implemented by the President.

They surely need to So they may see the many Faces of the Children along with the Tired but smiling Looks of the Many Mothers,Fathers, GrandParents and Guardians of those patients.
A Look, one would NOT SOON FORGET! EVER!