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GovLoop Project of the Week – U.S. Public Service Academy

I recently ran across something really interesting movement and had to share it with the GovLoop community. It shows how important public service is and how people are rallying around the idea training individuals to be the best public servants they can be.

The U.S. Public Service Academy will be an undergraduate institution devoted to developing civilian leaders for the public sector. Modeled on the military academies, the Academy will offer four years of

tuition-free education in exchange for five years of civilian service following graduation.

Its mission will be to educate, develop, and inspire civilian leaders who have the character, intellect, and experience necessary to serve the nation honorably and effectively, and who are committed to devoting their lives to public service.

The initiative to build the Academy was launched by two Teach For America alumni in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when the American people witnessed serious failures of public leadership at all levels of government. Since it was established in early 2006, the Academy has
made tremendous progress.”

Here are some U.S. Public Service Academy FAQ’s:

In a nutshell, what is the U.S. Public Service Academy?
The U.S. Public Service Academy will be an undergraduate institution devoted to developing civilian leaders. Modeled on the military academies, the Academy will offer four years of tuition-free education in exchange for five years of civilian service following graduation.

How many students will it serve?
The Academy will serve roughly 5,100 high-achieving students from across the United States and the world.

How will students be admitted?
Spots for nearly 1,300 incoming freshmen will be allocated by state, following a congressional nomination process similar to that used for admission to the military academies. Nominees would compete against other nominees from their state, thus ensuring that each state will be proportionally represented on campus.

What kind of curriculum will Academy students follow?
The Academy’s structured, academically rigorous program will focus on service and leadership. Its core curriculum will emphasize service-learning and international education, with challenging requirements for study abroad, public service internships, and summer leadership development. The combination of rigorous academic work with hands-on learning experiences will give our students the character, academic training, and leadership experience they need to serve the American people honorably and effectively.

What kinds of jobs would Academy graduates do during their five-year service requirement?
Academy graduates will spend five years serving our nation by working in education, health care, law
enforcement, emergency management, and other critical public service fields at the local, state, and national levels. They will be placed in strategically important positions and geographic areas where they are needed most.

Where will the Academy be located?
That decision ultimately will be up to Congress, but one site that makes logical sense is Washington, D.C. Our nation’s capital has tremendous opportunities for Academy students – internships where students would be able to get hands-on experience in public service; partnerships with government agencies that could provide speakers and visiting professors for Academy classes; easy access to research materials and subjects; and other concrete resources that would be hard to duplicate elsewhere. Nonetheless, the Academy could succeed in a number of locations. Philadelphia, Seattle, Atlanta, and Houston have all been suggested as possible sites.

How much money will it cost?
Roughly $205 million annually – or about 70 cents per American per year. For less than the cost of bus fare, we can build a lasting institution sends a clear message to our young people – public service matters, and it matters enough that we have built a national public university dedicated to it.

Who came up with the idea for a U.S. Public Service Academy?
The Academy is the brainchild of two Teach For America/AmeriCorps veterans, Chris Myers Asch and Shawn Raymond. After having taught in the Mississippi Delta in the mid 1990s, Asch and Raymond teamed up to create a non-profit educational organization for at-risk teenagers, the Sunflower County Freedom Project. Now, they have set their sights on helping America give its young people more opportunities to serve their country in a meaningful way.

Why do we need to do this now?
We need to build a Public Service Academy now for several reasons:
• America faces a serious shortage of public servants: The Partnership for Public Service warns of a looming “Federal brain drain” as more than 90% of the federal government’s leadership becomes eligible to retire in the next decade. Eight in ten police agencies nationwide cannot find enough qualified candidates to fill empty positions, and the Border Patrol has difficulty retaining college-educated recruits. The State Department struggles to find enough foreign language specialists in critically-needed languages such as Arabic, Korean, Chinese, and Pashtun.

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Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Wouldn’t it be better to take the $250 million and use that money for full-ride scholarships at existing public administration programs?