MA ICI Sponsors Symposium on Service and Inclusion through the NSIP and NextSTEP Projects

December 16, 2011

The 2011 Symposium on Service and Inclusion: Improving the Member Experience, was sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in partnership with the National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) and the National Service to Employment Project (NextSTEP) of the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

"Service empowers individuals and transforms lives," said Robert Velasco, II, Acting CEO of CNCS. "For people with disabilities, national service is a powerful chance to be on the giving, rather than the receiving end of service. Inclusion isn't just the right thing to do; it's the best thing to do, and we at the Corporation for National and Community Service are committed to doing our part."

The symposium brought together representatives from the disability and national service communities and their partners to exchange promising, evidence-based practices, focusing on one of goals laid out in CNCS's Strategic Plan - making service opportunities accessible and attractive to Americans of all backgrounds.

The symposium featured plenary presentations, capacity-building workshops, intensive seminars and interactive forums that focused on topics including universal strategies for access and accommodations, service as a path to employment, and recruiting and supporting underrepresented populations.

As part of the symposium, CNCS released the results of "Engaging Veterans with Disabilities in National and Community Service," a report commissioned by CNCS that looks at how military veterans benefit from AmeriCorps and strategies to recruit more veterans into national service. This study included one-on-one interviews with veterans, as well as focus group sessions among veterans and active duty soldiers. The study was conducted and report developed by the National Service Inclusion Project in partnership with Denver Option's Operation TBI.

The report highlights the opportunities within AmeriCorps for veterans to serve, how veterans view current recruitment strategies, and the best ways to communicate with veterans in order to successfully engage and retain them in service programs.

"This study shines a light on an important issue - how to engage those who have served in our armed forces in a new mission on the homefront," said Velasco. "We know that national service helps returning veterans transition back to civilian life and gives them an opportunity to use the invaluable skills they've gained in the military to meet community needs here at home. We are committed to recruiting more veterans to serve in AmeriCorps and other our programs, and to expanding the support we provide to veterans and military families."

To read stories of people with disabilities in national service, click here. For more information about the Symposium, please visit