ANNAPOLIS, Md.— This week, Governor Wes Moore testified in Maryland House and Senate hearings in support of the SERVE Act, presented as HB0546/SB0551. This legislation will establish a Service Year Option Program for high school students under the new Department of Service and Civic Innovation, and is part of the Governor’s legislative agenda to bring service to the forefront in Maryland. On Tuesday, Governor Moore gave remarks to the House Appropriations Committee, and Wednesday to the Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee.
“Not only does the service year provide a bridge for young people to the next stage of their lives, it will be a bridge between different groups in our society,” said Governor Moore. “The Service Year Program can bring people together in these divisive times and increase civic engagement and participation. I am proud to testify in support of my legislation that will change the way we approach pathways from education to employment.”
The purpose of the Service Year Option Program is to provide service year opportunities for youth within two years of graduation from high school or an equivalent degree or program. The intent is to provide real-world experience, professional and leadership skills while also increasing civic engagement and strengthening communities. The FY2024 budget proposal provides $13.7 million for the program.
Under the program, participants will be placed with a public or private sector partner/employer. A participant will work at least 30 hours and partner with a mentor in the placement. Upon successful completion of the program, a participant will be awarded a $3,000 stipend. A partner will pay participants $15 per hour and connect them with mentors.
The Department of Service and Civic Innovation is required to design the program, promulgate regulations, identify potential nonprofit partners, promote and market the program in the State, and procure a third-party vendor to assess the program.