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American Dream on Life Support: Boomer-Plus Americans Believe They Will Leave World in Worse Shape

September 10, 2008

Contact: Drew Nannis, AARP, 202-434-2560,

Older Republicans and women report they are more likely to volunteer in their communities, according to a comprehensive report released today by AARP. More to Give, a joint production with Civic Enterprises, examines volunteerism among members of the Baby Boom and Silent Generations and offers a roadmap for increasing volunteerism through public and private initiatives, as well as renewed efforts by organizations like AARP.

Earlier this week, President Bush released a USA Freedom Corps report at the White House that noted, “…increasing rates of service among the young and a greater commitment to volunteer service among older Americans…represent an opportunity for the country to marshal the talents of ‘Millennials’ and ‘Baby Boomers’ to tackle tough community problems.”

However despite the commitment to volunteer noted by the President, the AARP report found that most older Americans (55%) believe they will leave the world in worse condition than it was. Fortunately, they have the potential to improve it through volunteering, with four in ten – approximately 45 million people – planning to increase their volunteer work in the next five years.

“The good news is that today’s 50+ Americans have been volunteering their time and talents for decades, and they’re ready to do more,” said AARP Chief Operating Officer Tom Nelson. “The bad news is that our country needs it. Boomers and older Americans fear the American Dream is slipping away, but they’re ready to turn it around again.”

More to Give was authored by three leading experts in American civic engagement: John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises and former Director of the USA Freedom Corps; Robert D. Putnam, the author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community; and former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, who served as Special Assistant to President Kennedy during the launch of the Peace Corps.

The report was produced as part of ServiceNation, a national call to action to solve some of America’s toughest challenges through volunteerism. ServiceNation will launch on Sept. 11 and 12 in New York City. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama will participate in a forum on service on Sept. 11. First Lady Laura Bush, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Caroline Kennedy, Alma Powell, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, AARP CEO Bill Novelli and many others will then participate in a full-day forum on Sept. 12 to develop ways to engage individual volunteers and encourage service by increasing opportunities and resources.

Co-author John Bridgeland said, “The Boomer, Silent and Greatest Generations represent nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population today and want to meet real needs in their communities. Their ideas and insights point the way to how we can more effectively engage them and marry their talents and lifetime of experience with urgent needs like high school dropout and helping older Americans live independently in their homes.”

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