National Effort to Unite Unlikely Allies in Service to ‘One America’

It is no surprise to anyone who isn’t living under a rock that there is political gridlock in Congress and popular consumer media has divided the nation into two camps. If anything is clear during the National Conference on Volunteering and Service this week in Washington, D.C., is that you don’t have to agree on a path to agree on a goal to resolve an issue.

Banking and finance giant JPMorgan Chase is betting on that concept that Americans can find a path to agreement. It launched The One America Campaign during the conference and is backing it up with advertising, pro bono work and an attempt to bring famous polar opposites together in politics, entertainment, and sports with the goal of inspiring millions to unite in service to their communities.

The first unlikely pairings were introduced at the conference include conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly and liberal pundit and political strategist Donna Brazile, along with Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush, and David Plouffe, former adviser to President Obama.  Also endorsing the campaign by video: comedian and Daily Show guest host John Oliver.

“What really matters to our nation’s future is not what divides us, but what brings us together,” said Peter Scher, executive vice president and head of corporate responsibility at JPMorgan Chase. “And we know we are stronger when we are together as one nation — as One America.”

He said that JPMorgan Chase employees have given more than 1 million pro bono hours during the past three years. It equates to 500 full-time employees, Scher said.

Brazile moderated a discussion between the two rivals Rove and Plouffe. Both talk of needing to make sure volunteers understood that their actions mattered. Plouffe suggested that nonprofit “over-communicate” with volunteers to ensure they have clear direction and receive unequivocal thanks. Rove also spoke of clarity of message and communication.

Rove said that most volunteers don’t start in politics but at local organizations, such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, and nonprofits shape the volunteer experience.

The One America campaign will include celebrity videos, crowdsourcing and online voting to suggest and encourage potential rivals to come together to serve; local service events and dialogues in towns and cities across the country; a social media campaign; and suggested ways volunteers can make a difference in improving education, fighting hunger and protecting the environment.

“Acts of service can indeed cross boundaries, bring together the most unlikely allies, and build stronger communities,” said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service. “Recognizing that people in communities are tackling tough challenges every day, One America will showcase volunteer ideas that are working, and present them in a way that others can then implement in their own communities.”

Periodic challenges will award prizes for contests that may range from best video of local rivals serving, to most innovative volunteer project idea addressing childhood hunger, to most compelling One America moment.

Points of Light’s more than 200 on-the-ground action centers across the country will also be engaged in local events and will help people find meaningful opportunities to volunteer.

JPMorgan Chase will host the first official One America tour event in Columbus, Ohio in July, 2013. Other cities on the tour will include Chicago, New York, Miami, Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.  The level of the investment was not disclosed, although the firm did spend $750,000 to be the event’s title sponsor. More than 5,000 people involved in service are attending the event.

To sign up for regular updates or suggest unlikely allies that you’d like to see unite in service, please go to www.one-america.org