Points of Light Institute

Points of Light Institute
Founded 1990
Location Atlanta, Georgia
Key people Michelle Nunn
Focus Promote spirit of volunteerism
Website pointsoflight.org

The Points of Light Institute is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in the United States of America dedicated to engaging more people and resources in solving serious social problems. In August 2007 the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network merged with the Atlanta-based Hands On Network to become the Points of Light Institute.

Points of Light and Hands On Network are made up of approximately 400 affiliates, including 350 volunteer centers and 58 national and international volunteer organizations that act as entrepreneurial civic action centers.[citation needed]


Points of Light Foundation

Points of Light Foundation (POLF) was founded in 1990 and offered a variety of programs, products, and services to help support volunteer-based organizations and connect volunteers to volunteer opportunities from its headquarters in Washington, DC.[citation needed]

The Foundation and its expanded network included more than 200 local volunteer centers around the United States. These Volunteer Centers act as community hubs to connect volunteers to opportunities, work with local nonprofits and businesses to establish and improve volunteer programs, and, overall, bolster the local infrastructure for the volunteering community.[1]

The organization's name came from the "thousand points of light" theme used frequently by former U.S. President George H. W. Bush,[1] including a State of the Union address in which he said:

We have within our reach the promise of a renewed America. We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a Thousand Points of Light. And it is expressed by all who know the irresistible force of a child's hand, of a friend who stands by you and stays there, a volunteer's generous gesture, an idea that is simply right.[2]

The organization managed a number of notable programs including a national call-to-action volunteer portal,[3] the President's Volunteer Service Award and the annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service. The latter two were operated in conjunction with the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is the parent agency responsible for federal programs including AmeriCorps, SeniorCorps and Citizen Corps.[citation needed]

While called a foundation, Points of Light was in fact not a grant-making foundation. It engaged in a variety of work on volunteer related issues including their network of volunteer centers, programs on disaster volunteers, corporate volunteer councils and many more.[1]

Their mission statement was, "to engage more people and resources more effectively in volunteer service to help solve serious social problems."[cite this quote]

The Extra Mile was an initiative by the Foundation designed to honor famous volunteers with a number of plaques inserted along streets in Washington, D.C.. There are numerous people recognized, including Booker T. Washington.[citation needed]

Hands On Network

Hands On Network works in partnership with local organizations and schools to create "hands on" service projects that produce tangible benefits in communities. The network enlists a corps of hundreds of thousands of volunteers who join forces to address community needs worldwide. Hands On Network enables them to choose from a variety of projects that connect community needs with their time and interests. They cultivate and train volunteers to in turn lead other volunteers.[citation needed]

After Hurricane Katrina, Hands On established a base in Biloxi, Mississippi, and in New Orleans, Louisiana, to help in the relief efforts and rebuilding process. Hands On houses volunteers year round. Projects include house gutting, mold removal, street cleanup, food bank distribution support, and animal shelter support.[citation needed]


POLF began talks with the Atlanta-based Hands On Network to join forces through a merger to make one national organization with local affiliates focused on volunteering and service. They formally combined forces on August 11, 2007, to become the Points of Light Institute.[4]


External links

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