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State Service Plan: 2013-2016

The 2013-2016 State Service Plan was developed through an open and public process in which all Illinoisans were encouraged to contribute feedback. The Serve Illinois Commission hosted a series of listening sessions in the fall of 2012 in the four regions of the state and invited all citizens to make public comment. Those who could not attend in person were invited to make public comment via a survey on

Describe your strategies or approaches for outreach to community and faith-based organizations and intermediaries that may be interested in operating an AmeriCorps program.

The Serve Illinois Commission will continue to reach out to diverse organizations to establish interest in operating AmeriCorps programs. For the 2012-2013 program year, the Commission will manage 29 AmeriCorps Programs in over 60 counties throughout Illinois.

The Commission will partner with state agencies such as the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA), the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), and the Illinois Department on Aging to ensure information about national service programs like AmeriCorps, and well as volunteer service as a strategy in the state, reaches their network of organizations.

The Commission conducts annual listening sessions in targeted locations throughout the state. These sessions serve to educate the public on all the national service resources available to Illinois residents (including AmeriCorps) as well as describe eligibility and the application process. To continue attracting community and faith-based organizations to the Commission and national service opportunities, the Commission will rely on its Public Relations and Outreach Committee. This Committee is charged with directing and implementing the Commission’s community engagement efforts.

What program focus areas are you working on with your partners and collaborators?

Mission Statement

Serve Illinois improves communities by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the State.

Vision Statement

Illinois will become a leader in volunteerism in the nation, assisted by the work of the Serve Illinois Commission.

Means to Achieving the Vision

Expand volunteerism throughout the entire State, connecting rural, suburban and urban communities, and integrating people of all backgrounds, cultures, ages and abilities. Embrace and promote the idea that everyone can recognize their ability and responsibility to strengthen our communities through voluntary service.

Highest Identified Priorities

The following five strategic goals represent guiding objectives for the Commission in 2013-16:

  • The Commission will strengthen existing partnerships, while seeking valuable new ones, in order to close gaps of volunteerism across all communities.
  • The Commission will engage in active outreach to gather input, build awareness, and carry out initiatives to elevate volunteerism in Illinois.
  • The Commission will embrace diversity and inclusion, encouraging individuals of all abilities to join the volunteer sector.
  • The Commission will explore and implement effective volunteer management systems to enhance community resilience.
  • The Commission will focus on its own sustainability, and on maximizing the value it adds to partners and sub-grantees.

Please describe ongoing efforts or special initiatives that involve convening of and/or collaborating with the Corporation State Office, State Education Agencies, state networks of volunteer centers, Campus Compacts, National grantees and/or other service organizations within the state.

The Commission increases and facilitates opportunities for AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America programs to integrate the streams of service through webinar trainings and the five regional conferences. To remain all-encompassing in our outreach and collaboration, we coordinate extensively with our CNCS State Office, and maintain representation on our Commission from Senior Corps, multiple State Education Agencies, our Volunteer Centers of Illinois (VCI), Illinois Campus Compact, AFSCME, and several leaders from universities. The 2013 Commission initiatives are described in more detail below.

Regional Volunteer Conferences (Volunteer Management Network)

The Illinois Volunteer Management Network cultivates an extensive resource network of voluntary agencies, institutions and associations, small and large, across Illinois. The purpose of the network is to help address the primary concerns of these agencies' hardworking volunteer managers and administrators, including recruitment and retention of volunteers, local organizational capacity-building efforts, and ongoing training and professional development opportunities for volunteer managers - in their own backyard and specific to their needs.

A key facet of the Volunteer Management Network is its grassroots nature. The Commission believes a regional model - a local network of public, private and nonprofit entities in 5 or more regions of the state - in partnership with the largest state agency, the Illinois Department of Human Services, will provide an element of innate sustainability and a pragmatic problem-solving approach. The Commission, while providing stability and an overall operating framework for the statewide network, will solicit local volunteerism leaders and agencies to help identify and address the primary needs of that region. The Commission will also utilize a series of regional network meetings as a regular feedback loop to the Commission and staff, emphasizing both national service and "traditional" volunteer management needs.

Volunteer Centers of Illinois (VCI)

The Serve Illinois Commission will continue to work with the Volunteer Centers of Illinois (VCI) to enhance and enrich volunteer programs through the state. These partnerships will help to support volunteer manager groups, provide ongoing training through local conferences and promote volunteer opportunity databases.

In addition, representatives from VCIs serve on the Serve Illinois Commission, which further bolsters the relationship between the two organizations. The Commission will partner with the VCI in establishing new volunteer centers in areas of the state which have been unable to build a local center on their own, understanding that each community and region of the State is unique.

Illinois Disability Inclusion Team

The Illinois Commission will continue to support the Illinois Disability Inclusion Team (IDIT) and its mission to ensure that people of all abilities can serve. The Commission is extending the spirit of this mission beyond its original scope of CNCS programs, working to ensure that inclusion is at the forefront of discussions and decisions about service in all its forms across the state. As such, the Commission has made embracing diversity and inclusion one of its five strategic goals for 2013-16.

Generations Serving Generations

The National Governor’s Association (NGA) Project on the Civic Engagement of Older Adults was launched in June 2008. Illinois was one of 14 states selected to participate in the project designed to improve the health and lives of older Americans and increase their involvement in service, learning, and work.

This project has emerged as Generations Serving Generations, a partnership between the Serve Illinois Commission and the Illinois Department on Aging. Built on strong intergenerational traditions in Illinois, the vision is to successfully implement the original goals of the project:

  • Build an infrastructure of involvement for those 50+ in work, learning and service
  • Communicate the importance of civic engagement to retirees, educators, employers, and the public
  • Develop policy and public support for civic engagement.

Illinois Campus Compact

Illinois Campus Compact is a coalition of colleges and universities committed to increasing campus-wide participation in community and public service. The Executive Director of Illinois Campus Compact has been appointed as an ex-officio member of the Commission and this appointment will further strengthen the relationship. Campus Compact and the Commission will cooperatively develop a plan for selecting Campuses of Service throughout the state. This new venture of the Commission will also involve consultation with the Illinois Board of Higher Education. At the conclusion of the plan, the Commission will nominate up to three institutions of higher education to be a Campus of Service, including a four year public institution, a four year private institution, and a two year institution of higher education.

Cities of Service
The Commission is working aggressively to grow the number of Cities of Service in Illinois. Illinois is leading the nation with 22 cities whose mayors have signed the pledge, with more poised to join soon. The Commission will harness this network of Illinois Cities of Service to share best practices, troubleshoot, pool resources and generally help each other better promote service and volunteerism at the local level. Its first strategic planning session among Cities of Serve representatives will take place in March 2013, at which point the direction of the network will take greater shape.

What non-monetary support, such as training and technical assistance, might the Corporation (headquarters and/or your State Office) provide to ensure the success of your state service plan?

The Commission seeks the regular involvement of the Corporation's headquarters and state office leadership to create greater awareness of the Illinois Commission through public service announcements (PSAs) or advertisements. If promotional efforts can acknowledge the state Commission (media messages are tagged with the website address), it would assist interested individuals to link back to efforts in their state. These public service announcements will encourage citizens to get involved in their communities and highlight the volunteer opportunity portal on In addition, the Illinois Commission would also benefit from Corporation-sponsored training to new and existing Commissioners.

Sustainability of National Service Efforts

The enabling legislation of the Serve Illinois Commission (PA91-798, 20 ILCS 710) charges the Commission to promote and support community service in public and private programs to meet the needs of Illinois citizens, to stimulate new volunteerism and community service initiatives and partnerships, and to serve as a resource and advocate within the Department of Human Services for community service agencies, volunteers, and programs which utilize State and private volunteers.

The scope of the Commission's bipartisan support is evidenced in the Commissioner's political, geographical and racial diversity. All of the Commissioners have sworn an oath to meet the needs of Illinois without regard to their political persuasion.

In addition, Governor Quinn fully supports the mission of the Commission and puts weight of the Governor's Office behind the Commission. The Governor's dedication to service has elevated the level of work which the Commission undertakes and dramatically alters the possibilities for what the Commission may encounter in the future.

Other support, including financial, in-kind, and other support of the private sector, foundations, and other entities and individuals.

The Commission continues to develop and strengthen relationships with community foundations and institutions of higher education to engage them in specific projects.

An extremely exciting initiative is the Resource Development Committee’s work toward the creation of the Serve Illinois Foundation, a non-profit arm of the Commission. Through the partnership of the Resource Development Committee and the Serve Illinois Foundation Board, we will continue to generate funding streams to support the work of Serve Illinois.