Over two decades ago, I found my calling working in a community devastated by steel-plant closings. My story is not unique. Generations of Americans have connected their stories to the larger American story through service and helped move our country forward.
We need that service now. We face determined enemies and definitive challenges at home. This moment is too important for America's greatest resource--our people--to sit on the sidelines. So as President, I will ask for the active citizenship of Americans of all ages and walks of life.
First, we need to create opportunities to serve. I'll ask more young people to serve in uniform and expand the size of our military. And I'll increase AmeriCorps--our network of local, state and national service programs--from 75,000 slots to 250,000.
That service should be directed toward pressing national challenges. We need more Americans to teach and an Energy Corps to help develop renewable and efficient energy. And we need to grow our Foreign Service and Peace Corps to renew America's standing in the world.
Second, we need to invest in grass-roots ideas, because the "next great innovation" usually doesn't come from government. So I'll create a Social Investment Fund Network and bring together faith-based organizations and foundations to expand successful programs across the country.
Third, we need to integrate service into education. We should help schools develop service programs outside the classroom. And I've proposed an annual college-tuition tax credit of $4,000 in exchange for 100 hours of public service. You invest in America, and America invests in you--that's how we'll make college affordable for every American.
It's time to come together to shape the course of history. After 9/11, all Americans were ready to answer a call to service, but it didn't come. I will issue that call, and make it a central cause of my presidency.