Volunteer initiative foundering

Jan. 27, 2008 at 10:46 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The USA Freedom Corps, promoted by President Bush to encourage volunteerism in 2002, has reportedly faded from the spotlight.

Freedom Corps was intended to be clearinghouse to promote new volunteer initiatives and strengthen existing ones, but John DiIulio, the former director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the White House, told Sunday's New York Times the program "has run out of steam."

Aside from setting up the Citizens Corps -- a national network of doctors, firefighters and others who volunteer in an emergency -- the organization has had few successes, the newspaper reported.

Bush also pledged to increase the ranks of AmeriCorps to 75,000 from 50,000 but critics said he did so through creative accounting, because fewer than half the 75,000 slots are full-time.

"There are a whole lot of shell games they engaged in, in order to try to not back away from the president's announced target," said Bob Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard who was consulted by the Bush administration.

"I thought Bush got it, and that's why I worked with him. He talked a good game, the president, but I'm actually pretty cynical of it now," he said.

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