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Build a State Service Year to Boost Earnings, Create Jobs, and Serve Communities

Too many people of all ages, especially those entering or reentering the workforce, cannot find a job that pays enough to make ends meet. A State Service Year creates jobs and helps people learn skills for the workforce, while receiving work experience to grow their long-term career opportunities, and serve their state in an area where they are passionate. A service year also provides opportunities for people from all regions within their state to work together and serve the needs of their communities while incentivizing them to stay in-state to build their careers in the long run.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Who does this help?
A State Service Year helps people of all ages seeking new and rewarding job opportunities while receiving skills training and work experience to grow their long-term career opportunities. It also helps the state by engaging people in work that benefits the community and incentivizes them to stay for the long term.
Is this a high cost for the state?
No. A recent study found that every $1 invested in similar service programs returns up to $34 in the form of higher earnings, increased revenue, greater output, and other benefits.
Partners
  • Nonprofits and communities where Service Year members would serve
  • Students and their families
  • Youth advocates
Model Policy
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SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the STATE Service Year Act
SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
This policy establishes a STATE Service Year to provide individuals with job training and work experience, while engaging them in local service projects that fill critical needs in their state.
SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):
  1. [STATE] SERVICE YEAR PROGRAM
    1. There is a [STATE] Service Year Program in the State hereby established to be administered and managed by the DEPT/OFFICE [as established in section b) or within an existing equivalent DEPT].
    2. The purpose of the Program is to:
      1. Provide meaningful, impactful service opportunities to Service Year participants to improve lives in STATE, including, but not limited to:
        1. Public sector jobs including uniformed and civilian roles at the state, county and municipal level with DEPT working to incorporate service year opportunities with existing collective bargaining, civil service, and other legal limits on such roles to the extent necessary;
        2. Public and community health;
        3. Clean and renewable energy; 
        4. Early childhood education; 
        5. Arts and humanities; and
        6. Other areas that fill critical community needs as identified by the DEPT/OFFICE [in collaboration with the STATE EDUCATION/LABOR DEPT];
      2. Equip Service Year participants with professional development, mentoring, job training, financial literacy skills, and other supports while working in high-impact service placements;
      3. Equip Service Year participants with the skills that will enable them to successfully make the transition to an institution of higher education or to the workforce; 
      4. Strengthen the pipeline of talent into state and local governments to fill present and future staffing needs; and
      5. Provide Program completion awards to Service Year participants who have completed the Program.
    3. In administering the Program, the DEPT shall: 
      1. Seek community service opportunities and opportunities for Program expansion, including in state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations; 
      2. Develop processes to facilitate awarding Service Year participants with:
        1. Academic credit for their participation in the program; or
        2. Credit for their participation and prior learning experience toward professional credentials, trade or vocational certifications, and apprenticeship programs;
      3. Seek gifts or grants and other financial resources, including through public-private partnerships, for the benefit of the Program; 
      4. Apply for, receive, and spend grants-in-aid by the federal government or any of its agencies or any other federal funds and funds from nongovernmental entities and private partners made available to the Department for use in administering the Program;
      5. Maintain relationships with current and former Service Year participants including to provide mentorship or other supports to current participants as appropriate; 
      6. Provide oversight of the design, development, implementation, operation, and expansion of the Program; and
      7. Participate in Program-sponsored events. 
    4. The DEPT is responsible for expanding service opportunities in the state through the Program with the following goals:
      1. Recruiting Service Year participants and creating a strong annual cohort for Service Year participants from urban, rural, and suburban areas of the State;
      2. Ensuring all individuals have equitable access to participate in the Program regardless of gender, race, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, geography, native language, or protected veteran status;
      3. Recruiting and prioritizing for participation in the Program state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations.  
    5. The DEPT shall adopt regulations to accomplish the above and the goals of this Act, including but not limited to: 
      1. Eligibility requirements for participating organizations, classified by the Department based on the number of service placements the organization’s grant will support, as:
        1. community employers; or
        2. large–scale employers.
      2. A centralized process to facilitate efficient screening and placement of Service Year participants into the appropriate service placement as well as effective measurement and evaluation of the Service Year participant’s service experience;
      3. Reasonable workplace accommodations for Service Year participants with disabilities; 
      4. Compensation for Service Year participants, including:
        1. Monetary payment at least equivalent to the job level for a permanent path role at the employer; 
        2. Health insurance benefits and the potential for wraparound services; and
        3. Requirements for large-scale employers to provide matching funds to receive Service Year placements as appropriate; 
      5. Upon completing the Program as defined by the DEPT, Service Year participants who remain in the state for a majority of the following 10 years become eligible for a program completion award with value of at least $10,000 at maturity 10 years after completion of the service year.
        1. The [State Treasurer], in coordination with the DEPT, shall establish within the Service Year Program Fund established in section c) an account for each eligible individual identified under this section. Each individual account shall be identified to its account holder by means of a unique personal identifier and shall remain in the Fund. The State Treasurer shall credit to each individual account sufficient funds annually to ensure that the account contains $10,000 at Year 10 from the date of Program Completion, $25,000 at Year 20 from the date of Program Completion, and $40,000 at Year 30 from the date of Program Completion, with the Account Holder entitled to the funds in the account at any time after ten years from program completion if they have been residents of the state for a majority of the intervening years.
        2. In the case of a deceased account holder of an individual account which has an account balance greater than zero, upon receipt of notification of such individual’s death, the account rights shall transfer pursuant to STATE inheritance laws. Unclaimed funds shall be handled via STATE unclaimed funds processes, with any unclaimed funds returning to STATE after a time to be set by the DEPT in accordance with state law. 
      6. Workforce development training provided to Service Year participants by participating organizations or state agencies;
      7. Ongoing evaluation of opportunities to expand service in the State to address the State’s workforce development needs, including opportunities within State agencies for the creation and expansion of service opportunities within the agencies; and 
      8. Ongoing evaluation of the Program to ensure access and effectiveness, including:
        1. Demographics of Service Year participants, including race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender, education, and geography;  
        2. Post-Program trajectories of Service Year participants; and 
        3. Evaluation of the needs served in the community by the Program.
    6. A Service Year participant who received a service placement shall:
      1. Participate in all trainings related to the service placement; 
      2. Work at least 30 hours per week;
      3. Perform the duties of the service placement to the satisfaction of the participating organization and the Department; 
      4. Participate in Program-wide events;
      5. Upon completion of the Program, be notified of available post-Program opportunities, including registered apprenticeships, known to the Department.
  2. DEPARTMENT OF SERVICE AND CIVIC INNOVATION
    1. The position of the [SECRETARY/DIRECTOR OF SERVICE AND CIVIC INNOVATION] is created in the DEPT, who shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate and the House of Representatives. 
    2. [If state does not have an existing, appropriate Department], Subject to available funding, the state may create a [DEPT/OFFICE OF SERVICE AND CIVIC INNOVATION] established as a DEPT/OFFICE of the state government. [If Department is created], The head of the [DEPT/OFFICE OF SERVICE AND CIVIC INNOVATION] is the [SECRETARY/DIRECTOR OF SERVICE AND CIVIC INNOVATION].
    3. The SECRETARY/DIRECTOR shall: 
      1. Advise the governor on all matters to the Department and is responsible for carrying out the Governor’s policies on these matters;
      2. Promote service and volunteerism in the state by partnering with the federal government, local governments, and nongovernmental entities, to fulfill the purposes of this title; 
      3. Identify, develop, and implement initiatives, including community service opportunities, to increase service and volunteerism in the state to create opportunities, expand programs, and strengthen communities; 
      4. Be responsible for: 
        1. The operation of the Department and shall establish guidelines and procedures to promote the orderly and efficient administration of the Department; 
        2. The budget of the office of the secretary and the budget of each unit in the Department;
        3. The coordination and direction of all planning that the office of the Secretary initiates;
      5. Employ staff, appoint a deputy secretary and other professional staff, and contract with consultants as authorized representatives in accordance with the state budget;
      6. Apply for, receive, and spend grants-in-aid by the federal government or any of its agencies or any other federal funds made available to the Department for use in carrying out the powers and duties of the Secretary or the Department. 
    4. The DEPT, or if created  [DEPT/OFFICE OF SERVICE AND CIVIC INNOVATION], shall: 
      1. Promote the use of Service Year participants and volunteers in state and local government, employers, and nonprofit organizations; 
      2. Coordinate and oversee the activities of the [STATE] Service Year Program and other service and volunteerism programs and initiatives by the State; 
      3. Develop and implement model programs for a statewide clearinghouse, skill bank, or information centers for volunteers and projects in the state; 
      4. Develop and implement volunteer recognition events for volunteers in state programs and provide technical assistance and support for recognition events in nonpublic programs to increase the visibility and status of volunteers and their accomplishments; 
      5. Administer the Service Year Program and any other volunteer program recommended or designated by the Governor or otherwise established by law; 
      6. Liaise with national, state, and local volunteerism groups to obtain information on federal, state, local, and private resources that may enhance volunteer projects within the state; 
      7. Conduct studies and make recommendations to improve volunteer recruitment and training, volunteer retention, and accountability of volunteer programs; and 
      8. Provide staff support for the governor’s volunteer council.
    5. The attorney general and the attorney general’s office is legal adviser to the department. 
  3. SERVICE YEAR PROGRAM FUND
    1. The STATE Service Year Program Fund is created in the State General Fund. The Fund consists of:
      1. Money appropriated to the Fund under the Program in the state budget;
      2. Funding received by the DEPT from federal funding opportunities; 
      3. Gifts or grants received by the DEPT for the Fund;
      4. Investment earnings of the Fund; and 
      5. Any other money from any other source accepted for the benefit of the Fund.
    2. The purpose of the Fund is to
      1. Provide compensation and stipends to Service Year participants with a service placement under this section; 
      2. Pay the costs to administer and promote the Program; and
      3. Assist in the creation of additional Service Year Programs. 
    3. The DEPT shall administer the Fund. The State Treasurer shall hold the Fund separately and shall invest the money in the Fund in the same manner as other state money may be invested. Any investment earnings of the Fund shall be credited to the Fund. 
    4. The Department:
      1. May accept any gifts or grants from any person for the Fund; 
      2. Shall use any gift or grant that it received for the purposes listed under Section c (ii). 
    5. Beginning in [YEAR], at the end of each fiscal year, the Department shall prepare an annual report of the Fund that includes:
      1. An accounting of all financial receipts and expenditures to and from the Fund; 
      2. The total number of Service Year participants disaggregated by demographic categories; 
      3. The total annual cost of the Program disaggregated by the source of the funds; 
      4. Service Year participant transition after Program completion into higher education, postsecondary education, full-time employment, registered apprenticeships, and other post-Program opportunities;
      5. The number of Service Year participants employed by state or local government agencies after completion of the Program; and 
      6. To the extent practicable, what former Service Year participants are doing one year, two years, and five years after completing the Program.
  4. DEFINITIONS
    1. “Wraparound services” includes:
      1. Child care;
      2. Transportation;
      3. Housing;
      4. Behavioral health;
      5. Crisis intervention;
      6. Substance abuse prevention or treatment;
      7. Legal aid;
      8. Financial literacy programming;
      9. Job search and application support; and
      10. College application support.