Big Citizenship: How Pragmatic Idealism Can Bring Out the Best in Americaby Alan Khazei
City Year allowed young people to serve their communities—first in Boston, now in twenty
Alan Khazei has pioneered ways to empower citizens to make a difference throughout his life. As a young graduate from Harvard Law School, he turned down lucrative offers from corporate law firms to found a non-profit called City Year with his friend, Michael Brown.
City Year allowed young people to serve their communities—first in Boston, now in twenty cities across the U.S. and in Johannesburg, South Africa, and London, U.K.—through mentoring, tutoring, and leading children. It also allowed Khazei to be at the forefront of a generation of innovators who invented new methods of social
Khazei not only built and ran a hugely successful organization with Brown, he explored how social change could be achieved through Congress, popular movements, and motivated alliances of groups. Khazei led the effort to defend AmeriCorps and then through his second organization, Be The Change, Inc., worked to secure its longterm future through the passage of the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. This journey—from the most local of grassroots engagement to the halls of Washington—is extraordinary in itself and a vital model for anyone despairing that change can ever be effected in a sclerotic political system. It can. Khazei has already proved it.
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, co-author of Built to Last
“Alan Khazei is the walking definition of a Big Citizen. One of the great entrepreneurs in America, he has created not just an idea, not just an organization, not just an impact—he has helped launch an enduring great movement that carries forth with exponential momentum. Read. Learn. Be inspired.”
Former Senator Harris Wofford
“You can read Alan Khazei's extraordinary book forward or backward, starting with his personal saga of social invention in founding City Year and becoming a major leader in the movement for national service, or you can start with his concluding section that conveys his larger vision of a Service Nation in bold detail. But read it. Khazei has rolled into one ball his rich experience and creative ideas that will challenge and inspire those ready to be big citizens, and make social entrepreneuring contagious.”
Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone
“Alan Khazei connects readers with the contagious enthusiasm and great ideas of the remarkable people he has met on his own inspiring journey of empowering young people. This is a must-read for anyone committed to bettering the world on a grand scale.”
Jeff Swartz, CEO of the Timberland Company
”BIG CITIZENSHIP is not a ‘feel good’ book, not even a ‘do good’ book, but an invitation and challenge to ‘be good,’ written by one of the most accomplished social entrepreneurs of this generation—or any other generation. Alan Khazei lives the change he seeks to create, and Big Citizenship is the story telling invitation to each of us to be the Big Citizen we can each of us be.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian
“‘Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others,’ Robert Kennedy famously wrote, “he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.’ No one better exemplifies the truth of these words than Alan Khazei, the co-founder of City Year. In this stirring call to arms, Khazei lays out a path for the renewal of America, which should provoke conversation, debate and action.”
Brad Meltzer, author of The Tenth Justice
“Forget the debate between big and small government. BIG CITIZENSHIP gives an alternative—and far more inspiring—answer. From being one of the creators of City Year, to his work preserving AmeriCorps, Khazei knows exactly how idealism works.”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor, Harvard Business School, and author of Confidence and SuperCorp
“BIG CITIZENSHIP is a brilliant tour de force and force for change. Alan Khazei masterfully weaves together a big idea for the future of America with his personal journey as a savvy leader building a successful national organization and social movement. His engaging story will both inspire and yield practical models for action."
Boston Globe, August 31, 2008
“Alan Khazei extols the virtues of volunteerism and service in “Big Citizenship,’’ a combination memoir and call to action that lays out a framework for everyday people to solve major social issues.”
Educated Quest, September 22, 2010
“A very appropriate and useful book for a student interested in public and non-profit management or an executive who is considering a role in serving others.”
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Meet the Author
Alan Khazei is the founder and CEO of Be the Change, Inc. Alan previously served as the co-founder&CEO of City Year, a youth service corps that helped to inspire the development of AmeriCorps. Alan serves on the boards of City Year, New Profit, and Share our Strength. In 2006, US News&World Report selected Alan as one of America's 25 Best Leaders. An honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Alan currently lives in Brookline with his wife, daughter, and son.
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