The “secret sauce” of national service is in its ability to prepare and inspire young people to step up and address the many challenges we face. From climate change and food and water scarcity around the globe, to an opioid crisis and homelessness here at home, programs like AmeriCorps, YouthBuild, and Peace Corps give young people across the country an entryway to being part of the solution.
Here’s one big challenge well-suited for service year support. With an aging population in the United States, we need a new generation of leaders ready to provide services for the elderly. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that by 2035, people older than 65 will outnumber those under 18. There is a desperate shortage of professionals able to provide care: by 2030, we’ll need an estimated 3.5 million more healthcare professionals, yet only 4% of social workers, 2% of nurses, and less than 1% of physicians are specializing in geriatrics care -- far below below the predicted need.