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McCready Says Expanded National Service Program Will Bring Nation Together

Demcorat Dan McCready said Wednesday he wants more young people to serve in AmeriCorps.

Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate for the 9th Congressional District special election, said Wednesday he wants to expand the number of Americans who can serve in the AmeriCorps – a government-funded community service organization. 

In speaking at the Korean War Memorial in Mint Hill, McCready said the nation has never been more polarized. He said national service can bring people together.

"Wouldn’t we all be better citizens if each of us had the opportunity to contribute?" McCready said during a news conference. "Wouldn’t that make our country a better place? We talked about our grandfathers who served in World War II. We call them the greatest generation. And we ask, what's a common experience we can create to pull Americans together today?"

If elected, McCready says he would support funding to allow an additional 300,000 people between the ages of 18 and 27 to serve with AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps says it employs 75,000 people each year in areas like education, health care and protecting the environment.

McCready's goal would be eventually make AmeriCorps available to all young Americans within a decade – though national service would be voluntary.

He also supports creating a cabinet-level position for a secretary of national service.

McCready, a former Marine, says service – either through the military or through AmeriCorps – makes better citizens.

"National service builds character," he said. "It builds critical professional skills. AmeriCorps alumni vote at higher rates than their peers. Nine out of 10 AmeriCorps alums say their experience helped them learn to solve problems."

McCready did not give details about how to pay for the expanded program. But one way, he says, would be for Fortune 500 companies to help pay for a larger AmeriCorps through donations and public private partnerships.

McCready is running against Republican Dan Bishop and Libertarian Jeff Scott. Election day is Sept. 10.