Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Volunteer Topeka: Kansas Ranks Fourth in Volunteerism

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Volunteer Topeka: Kansas Ranks Fourth in Volunteerism

Article excerpt

Brittany Crabtree, who has served as executive director of the Kansas Volunteer Commission since November 2014, isn't satisfied with Kansas' ranking as the fourth-best state in the nation for volunteerism.

She wants the state to top the list -- and realizes the key may lie with young people.

"Thirty-five percent are serving through religious organizations and 26 percent are helping educational organizations," Crabtree said, citing information from the "Volunteering and Civic Life" report compiled by the Corporation for National and Community Service. "But we want to be first in the nation (with) getting volunteers out there and on the ground."

Crabtree, however, points to a December 2014 Washington Post article that puts the Sunflower State in first place for the number of young people who volunteer to make their communities better.

"What we learn growing up shapes us as adults," she said. "Young people in Kansas are volunteering at higher rates than in any other state. Studies show that this will lead to a lifetime of active citizenship. That's good news for Kansas."

Crabtree previously served as a program specialist with the Office of the Field Liaison in Kansas City for CNCS, a small federal agency that provides funding to the Kansas Volunteer Commission. As a program specialist, she managed a portfolio of AmeriCorps VISTA and Senior Corps grants for Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

While some state-level volunteer commissions are stand-alone or housed within nonprofit organizations, Crabtree said, the KVC has been under the umbrella of the Kansas State Department of Education since 1993.

"In Kansas, we believe civic engagement and service is a valuable part of a young person's education," she said. "It's a strong fit. It's important for young people to learn about their community's needs through volunteering and learn how they can contribute to solutions."

According to the Kansas Volunteer Commission's website, the organization oversees:

- Nine AmeriCorps Kansas programs, which focus on "education, health, youth, emergency response, the environment and responding to other direct community needs."

- The Volunteer Generation Fund, which supports "efforts that expand the capacity of volunteer-connector organizations to recruit, manage, support and retain individuals to serve in high-quality volunteer assignments. …

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