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John Bridgeland
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John Bridgeland is CEO of Civic, a public policy development firm. He is also Vice-Chair of the Service Year Alliance. His work on the high school dropout crisis helped bring national attention to the issue, with the TIME cover story “Dropout Nation” and two Oprah Winfrey shows prompted by his report, The Silent Epidemic. Bridgeland is also Vice Chairman of Malaria No More, a non-profit launched at the White House Summit on Malaria that is bringing new resources, advocacy and grassroots support to ending malaria in Africa by 2015. Bridgeland helped develop the Centennial Initiative and Challenge to strengthen our 391 national parks and serves on the National Parks System Advisory Board. He also was a leader in ServiceNation, a presidential forum with Senators Barack Obama and John McCain and a summit that showcased a 10-point plan to increase community, national and international service opportunities, which informed the Serve America Act by Senators Edward Kennedy and Orrin Hatch. The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act was signed into law in 2009. For his work in promoting the national service agenda, Bridgeland was selected as a 2008 NonProfit Times Executive of the Year.

Previously, Bridgeland served as Assistant to the President of the United States and the first Director of the USA Freedom Corps. In that role, he coordinated more than $1 billion in domestic and international service initiatives and worked with non-profits, corporations and schools to foster a culture of service in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Prior to that, Bridgeland served as Director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House, where he coordinated policy on more than 100 issues. Bridgeland began his professional career by practicing law in the New York and Paris, France offices of Davis Polk & Wardwell. He also served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to former U.S. Congressman Rob Portman. Bridgeland graduated with honors in government from Harvard University and received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Entries by John Bridgeland

An Encore of Service

(1) Comments | Posted April 7, 2016 | 10:40 AM

America's creed of equal opportunity is under threat. Some candidates for President tap into fears and want to build walls. Others point fingers at Wall Street and the top 1 percent. All are wondering whether the American Dream can be restored. What is clear is that the American Dream is...

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Embracing America's Dropout Challenge

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2016 | 11:58 AM

For decades, high school graduation rates flat-lined, reaching about 70 percent nationally in the 1970s through the early part of this century. More than one million students each year failed to graduate with their class, increasing their odds of being unemployed, on welfare, incarcerated, and having children who would continue...

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A Challenge on King Day

(0) Comments | Posted January 15, 2016 | 10:48 AM

Many Americans celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday by volunteering to help their neighbors and nation. That's a fitting tribute to a man who said life's most persistent question is what we do for others. The national holiday enables an annual renewal of what Ronald Reagan called, "this American spirit...

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What Do On-Demand Economy Workers Want? We Asked Them

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2016 | 10:45 AM

New technology platforms are reengineering how millions of Americans work in today's economy and millions more access goods and services. As exciting as these developments are, too little is known about the "on-demand" or "sharing" economy and how workers and Americans view it. The last official government survey of the...

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One Nation: Rediscovering American Compassion

(0) Comments | Posted September 11, 2015 | 9:57 AM

As a boy, I remember reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with my first grade class. We said it in unison; we stood together; and over time we came to understand what it meant.

As I got older, I would listen to the recorded voice of a young President at...

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Education as a Data-Driven Enterprise

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 3:07 PM

For decades, leaders have been sounding the alarm that our educational advantage was slipping. The opening lines of the 1983 report, A Nation at Risk, still ring in our ears, "the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very...

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A Rising Tide of Graduation Rates

(2) Comments | Posted March 17, 2015 | 1:57 PM

Recent research shows there is a clear path out of poverty. Only 2 percent of those who graduate high school, wait to have children until married, and get a full-time job by the age of 21 live in poverty, while roughly 75 percent who do none of these...

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Service Year at Home or Abroad

(1) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 1:59 PM

Every year, a quarter of a million U.S. students leave the comfort of their colleges to study abroad. As a new semester begins, most students are likely to go to one of five countries -- the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy or China -- to learn at a foreign university...

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The Big Blue Elephant in the Room

(3) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 3:32 PM

Although last week's UN General Assembly meetings in New York City included the largest gathering of world leaders ever to address climate change, the largest factor in our climate cycle was missing from the discussions -- the ocean.

Disregard for the ocean as the primary driver of climate and...

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National Service Now

(5) Comments | Posted September 12, 2014 | 9:51 AM

This week, we remember both the tragedy of 9/11 and the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps. In the aftermath of 9/11, millions of Americans stepped forward to serve their country -- some in the military, others in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or the new Citizen Corps for disaster response, and many...

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The Power of a Service Year

(1) Comments | Posted June 7, 2014 | 3:30 PM

This week, on the heels of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, 400 leaders from every sector of American life gathered there to rededicate themselves and the country to what Lincoln called "our unfinished work." America could use a civic shot in the arm.

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The Quiet Work of Ethel Kennedy

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 1:41 PM


"Kennedy" and "quiet" don't go together in Washington circles. But Ethel Kennedy has spent the last 22 years working quietly with youth from the poorest neighborhoods of Washington, DC to give them a chance to serve their community and save their...

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Closing the High School Graduation Gap

(1) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 7:42 AM

This week, good news emerges around the high school dropout epidemic and frightening education gaps that threaten America's opportunity society. A high school diploma is just a stepping stone on the way to college and productive work -- a foundation of progress from which we must continue to build.


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On Being Our Brother's Keeper

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 10:39 AM

A former gang member and high school dropout, James Mackey is the kind of kid most of us feared and too many ignored. If we paid any attention to James, we thought he would never be a contributing member of society and discarded him in our psychic trash bins. Fifty...

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Out of the Shadows

(0) Comments | Posted February 14, 2014 | 10:02 AM

Hope sometimes appears in the most unlikely places.

Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, is making progress to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This week, President Joyce Banda joined the Special Olympics to convene an unprecedented "African Leaders Forum on Disability."

It was an...

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A Civilian Conservation Corps for the Modern Age

(3) Comments | Posted January 8, 2014 | 2:19 PM

Consider the story of LaShauntya Moore. Growing up in one of toughest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., her story might seem all too familiar -- a pregnant teenager, high school dropout and homeless mother -- her life was in the abyss until an unexpected opportunity came her way. She joined the...

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National Service Matters

(1) Comments | Posted July 16, 2013 | 5:25 PM

On July 15th, I was privileged to join hundreds of leaders and volunteers gathered at the White House as Presidents Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush awarded the 5,000th Point of Light Award to Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, who founded a nonprofit organization that has delivered more...

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A Stronger Grad Nation

(0) Comments | Posted July 3, 2013 | 4:52 PM

As another graduation season comes to a close, there is cause for celebration. The most recent graduation data show that for the first time the nation is on pace to reach a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020. This is a goal...

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National Service 2.0

(7) Comments | Posted June 25, 2013 | 9:00 AM

We've got the perfect storm. And the perfect opportunity.

A generation of young adults is entering the job market at a time...

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The Missing Piece -- How Social and Emotional Learning Can Empower Children and Transform Schools

(6) Comments | Posted May 16, 2013 | 11:49 AM

In classrooms across America, teachers teach their students the knowledge and skills required for academic achievement. They plan lessons, share knowledge, comment on homework, grade tests and engage their students in learning. In addition to these core responsibilities, many teachers also inspire their students, and teach them how to dream,...

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