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Parent Volunteerism Valued at $54 Billion

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Parents, you rock as volunteers. And we now have the statistics to prove it.

It turns out that schools are hotbeds of civic volunteerism, and parents are the lifeblood of that activity. So says a study released recently by the Corporation for National and Community Service, in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship.

The study showed that volunteerism in America is at a five-year high, and parents of school-aged children volunteer at a higher rate than the overall population. These parents contributed more than 2.5 billion hours of their time to volunteer efforts in 2011, most of it to school-based projects.

The rate of parents volunteering in 2011 was 33.7 percent. While this was a nearly negligible increase (0.1 percentage point) from the prior year, it certainly does add up. Some 22.7 million parents volunteered, and if the hours they devoted to their work were paid, it would be valued at $54 billion, the group calculates.

More highlights from Volunteering and Civic Life in America include these findings:


  • Parents between the ages of 26 and 50 with school-aged children volunteered at a significantly higher rate than non-parents in this age range, with volunteering rates for parents peaking at 46 percent in their late 40s.

  • Working mothers are a key segment of volunteering parents, as 38 percent volunteered.

  • Parents expressed some or a great deal of confidence in the public schools their children attend, with 90.4 percent in 2011 feeling this way.

It's not just parents who help children in school. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a release announcing results from the study, said, "Every day, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members help more than three million disadvantaged youth by serving as teachers, tutors, mentors, and counselors."

He added, "In America, education must be the great equalizer—and robust engagement from communities, families, mentors, tutors, and other volunteers is absolutely vital to achieving that core American ideal. As a nation, we are so much stronger working together collaboratively to advance student learning than working in isolation."

Besides national results from the research, an interactive map shows state-by-state statistics on volunteerism.

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