With his signature public service program for young adults on the verge of passing in the Maryland General Assembly, Gov. Wes Moore on Monday announced a cabinet member to help build out the service year effort and other initiatives under the umbrella of a new state agency.
If confirmed by the state Senate, Paul Monteiro — a former AmeriCorps program leader who now directs community relations efforts for the U.S. Department of Justice — would be the first secretary of the Department of Service and Civic Innovation.
Moore created the department by executive order on his first full day in office in January after making public service a hallmark of his campaign.
He has said the department will consolidate various state-run public service initiatives already existing. It will also be the home of a new program that, if fully realized, would allow any recent high school graduate in the state to participate in a year of paid public service before entering the workforce or continuing their education.
Participants in the service program would earn a $15 hourly wage and a $6,000 stipend if they complete at least nine months of service for a nonprofit organization, local government or for-profit business.
It would start with 200 participants later this year and then grow to up to 2,000 in the fourth year, though some believe the demand could eventually be far higher in a state with roughly 60,000 annual high school graduates.
Monteiro and the agency will be tasked with promoting the program, recruiting participants and connecting them with employers beginning this year.
The agency will also be required to lift up a similar service year program known as Maryland Corps that lawmakers passed in recent years but that has not fully launched. In the version of Moore’s SERVE Act that lawmakers amended and are expected to pass this week, the programs will be known as the “young adult service year option pathway” and the “Maryland service year option pathway.”
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