Washington D.C.— Since our nation's founding, voluntary associations have been vital to solving America's problems and strengthening its democratic traditions. While nonprofits are critical to the nation's well-being, their relationship to public policy and government is not well understood. A new scholarship program launched today by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will enhance our understanding of the connection between civil society, nonprofits, volunteerism and public policy.

The new Civil Society Nonprofit Scholars' program was announced at a morning ceremony at the Wilson Center by Corporation CEO Leslie Lenkowsky and Center Director Lee Hamilton. The Corporation and the Center will name up to three scholars or experienced practitioners to spend nine months conducting research on topics such as the relationship between democratic institutions and nonprofits, the role of service in society, and civic engagement and public policy.

"One of America's greatest strengths is its vibrant independent sector," said Lee Hamilton. "In our increasingly complex and diverse society, Americans need to better understand – and put into practice – the tradition of voluntary action and civic involvement that has made our democracy strong. We are pleased to sponsor this scholarship program with the Corporation, which exemplifies Woodrow Wilson's commitment to knowledge in the public service."

"President Bush has asked every American to dedicate two years of their lives to service, and he created USA Freedom Corps to build a culture of service, citizenship, and responsibility in America's communities," said Leslie Lenkowsky. "For Americans to answer that call, we need to strengthen our voluntary sector. A key part of that is better understanding the connections between civil society, nonprofits, volunteerism and public policy. This new program will put scholarship in the service of democracy, and we're delighted to work with the Wilson Center on such an important project."

Participants in the new program will reside in the Washington area during their research term, from September 2003 through May 2004, and will have access to research facilities at the Center, the Corporation, and through the Washington area. Scholars from a wide variety of backgrounds, including nonprofit professionals, are encouraged to apply for the competitive scholarship. Stipends will approximate the individuals' regular salary. The application deadline is February 3, 2003.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds, engaged in the study of national and world affairs. The Wilson Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. The Center commemorates the ideals and concerns of Woodrow Wilson by: providing a link between the world of ideas and the world of policy; and fostering research, study, discussion, and collaboration among a full spectrum of individuals concerned with policy and scholarship in national and world affairs. For more information, visit www.wilsoncenter.org

The Corporation for National and Community Service provides opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities through three programs: Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America. Together these programs engage more than two million Americans each year in meeting critical needs in education, the environment, public safety, homeland security, and other areas. The Corporation and its programs are part of USA Freedom Corps, a White House initiative to foster a culture of citizenship, service and responsibility, and help all Americans answer the President's Call to Service. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.org.

For more information or to cover the event, please contact or Sandy Scott at 202-606-5000 ext. 255 or sscott@cns.gov, or Sharon Coleman at 202-691-4016 or colemans@wwic.si.edu.