Sen. Chris Coons received the Edward M. Kennedy National Service Lifetime Leadership Award from Voices for National Service, a coalition of national service programs, state service commissions and individuals, who work to ensure Americans of all ages can serve and volunteer in their community.
The award is given in recognition of lifelong dedication to citizen service and for outstanding leadership in advancing national service as a civic commitment and legislative priority. It was formally presented to Coons at the 16th annual Friends of National Service Awards, held Feb. 11 in Washington, D.C.
Coons joins a bipartisan group of distinguished leaders in government, business and journalism from across the nation being honored, including Sens. Patty Murray, D-Washington; Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island; Reps. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, and Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut; New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and first lady Valerie Sununu; and Mark Donovan, president of the Kansas City Chiefs.
“For more than two decades, Sen. Chris Coons has worked tirelessly to ensure national service remains a federal priority,” said AnnMaura Connolly, president, Voices for National Service. “He is a vocal champion for the benefits of national service and has worked relentlessly with colleagues on both sides of the political aisle to ensure Americans of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to serve the nation and their communities.”
“No one was a greater champion for national service than Sen. Kennedy, and I am deeply honored to receive this award that bears his name,” said Coons. “Early in my professional career, I had the chance to launch and help run one of the very first AmeriCorps programs, and that experience touched my soul and changed my life. I saw firsthand that service can be a cost-efficient strategy for engaging citizens, preparing young adults for work, solving problems and strengthening and uniting our nation. Programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps benefit communities large and small, and I believe they should be expanded so more Americans can participate.”
In 2018, Coons successfully worked with his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure a $19 million increase for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. With Reed, Coons sponsored the ACTION for National Service Act, a bill to dramatically expand the number of AmeriCorps positions and increase the value of the post-service education award to cover two years of college tuition.
Prior to coming to Congress, Coons helped launch and lead an AmeriCorps program with the I Have A Dream Foundation. Later, as county executive of New Castle County, he served for a decade on the Delaware State Service Commission and helped create a program to recruit volunteer firefighters in his hometown.