Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-1-1993

Publication Title

Social Policy

First Page


Last Page



President Clinton's signing of the National Service Act on September 21, 1993, was a triumphant moment for the "community service movement" that first emerged a decade ago in response to the Reagan Administration's cutbacks in domestic poverty programs. As we look forward to an expansion in federal sponsorship and funding for the community service efforts of young people, it is important to step back and ask what young people can achieve through their service efforts in poor communities. In particular, the service movement needs to grapple with two weaknesses that have plagued it throughout the past decade: 1) the under­representation of young people of color and young people from working-class and poor backgrounds in the leadership of most of the nationally recognized service organizations; and 2) the failure to develop strategies that seek to solve the problems caused by persistent poverty, rather than just meeting the immediate needs of poor people.