As Obama takes office next week, I hope his administration does not turn back on its commitment to leadership in global health and development. The official website claims:

“Obama and Biden will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty and hunger around the world in half by 2015, and they will double our foreign assistance to achieve that goal.”

The non-partisan Brookings Institute’s Colin Bradford and Noam Unger wrote a brief memo to the President-elect, entitled “Redefine America’s Global Development Cooperation,” in which they briefly lay out their view of Obama’s stance on global development as well as give their recommendations. One such recommendation is to “Mobilize American generosity and goodwill.”

To this end, Obama has proposed the creation of:

  • A Classroom Corps to help underserved schools.
  • A Health Corps to serve in the nation’s clinics and hospitals.
  • A Clean Energy Corps to achieve the goal of energy independence.
  • A Veterans Corps to support the Americans who serve by standing in harm’s way.

Additionally, Obama has proposed that college students engaging in 100 hours of community service a year receive a $4,000 education credit.

First, I hope that the launch of such programs can actually survive such tough economic times.  But more importantly, I hope that Obama’s progress in meeting domestic challenges extends to fulfill commitments he made to address global crises as well.

One way to do this is by incorporating an international component to the “Corps” programs. Such programs would help youth network across borders and learn from others doing similar work in other countries, while fostering international engagement and cooperation on pressing issues.  Once upon a time youth flocked to Peace Corps, but ask any returned volunteer today, and it’s evident that many of the programs have long been neglected and are in need of reassessment.

While it is important promote service to one’s own country, current challenges in poverty, health, climate change, and security are not occurring within the confined of our  borders. Young people should help keep the pressure on the incoming administration to fulfill commitments made on global poverty and prove that we are ready to meet the demand for both domestic and international public service.

Americans for Informed Democracy is running numerous programs in the upcoming months to help ensure that youth voices are present in guiding the new administration’s policies. Keep checking the website and get engaged! Now’s the time to get a move on!