President Bill Clinton has long championed his brainchild AmeriCorps and its volunteers, and now, Sunrise Organic, America's top organic breakfast cereal, hopes to do for champion volunteers what Wheaties has done for champion athletes. For the first time ever, AmeriCorps, represented by three young volunteers, will be featured on a cereal box.

AmeriCorps hopes to recruit 50,000 new members this year, more than the U.S. Marine Corps, and it hopes this first-of-its-kind cereal box campaign--by reaching millions of Americans--will help it reach that goal.

The John F. Kennedy legacy includes the Peace Corps, and President Clinton's legacy includes an AmeriCorps flush with members, bipartisan support and funding.

"Wherever I go, I try to talk to young people about AmeriCorps, to encourage them to serve. Now millions of Americans will receive the call to service from the breakfast table," President Clinton said of the program.

Sunrise Organic cereal will feature three AmeriCorps members on the back panel of the box as a part of its "Planet Partners" program to raise up to $100,000 to promote a healthy planet. Each box of Sunrise contains a code number for consumers to punch in at the www.sunrisecereal.com Web site. For every code number entered, Sunrise Organic cereal will donate one dollar to AmeriCorps programs. On the Web site consumers help Sunrise Organic determine where the money will go--either to support organic farming or preserve national parks.

The box also will provide information to people interested in joining AmeriCorps, and the Web site will feature monthly updates and photographs from the three selected volunteers describing their adventures as AmeriCorps members and progress reports on their current projects.

The three AmeriCorps volunteers selected for the cereal box are:
  • John Kearney, 26, of Ketchum, Idaho, and a University of Vermont graduate, who serves with the Montana Conservation Corps, where his work includes restoring habitat in Yellowstone National Park;

  • Molly O'Neill, 25, of Muncie, Ind., and a Ball State University graduate, who serves with the Maine Conservation Corps, where her projects include preserving sections of the Appalachian Trail and ocean shoreline in Acadia National Park;

  • Juliet Schraeder, 24, of Madison, Wis., and a University of
    Wisconsin graduate, who serves with Austin Community Gardens in Austin, Texas, where she teaches organic gardening to children and grows organic vegetables for food banks and homeless shelters.
AmeriCorps is only five years old and is not yet a widely recognized program. AmeriCorps is gearing up to recruit 50,000 members next year--its largest class ever. President Clinton has proposed that by the year 2004, there should be 100,000 new AmeriCorps members each year, more than double current numbers. The lack of name recognition is a handicap to meeting annual recruiting goals, but the cereal box campaign will change that.

"Our goal is to be as recognizable as the Peace Corps," said Harris Wofford, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and current CEO of the Corporation for National Service, which oversees AmeriCorps. "This program with Sunrise Organic breakfast cereal reaches more people than we've ever been able to reach in the past. You could say we were looking for something to give our recruiting more bite."

Wofford worked with President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to create the Peace Corps. Now, embracing the vision for national service held by Kennedy, George Bush and Bill Clinton, Wofford is known as an untiring advocate of AmeriCorps who helped make the vision a reality. The 40,000 member AmeriCorps, the 500,000 member National Senior Service Corps and the one million strong Learn and Serve program all fall under the administrative umbrella of the Corporation for National Service.

"By asking young people to serve in AmeriCorps, we send an important message: You are needed," Wofford said. "And by putting the everyday heroes of AmeriCorps on a cereal box, we hope to inspire young people to greatness in service just as they have been inspired by athletic heroes."

More than 150,000 young people have served in AmeriCorps since it was launched in 1994. Members typically serve for a year and can choose where and how they serve. They receive a modest living allowance, health insurance, student loan deferment and training. Upon completion of their service they receive a $4,725 education award to help pay for college, graduate school, vocational training or to pay off student loans.

Information on how to join AmeriCorps is available at www.americorps.org.

Included among the 1,000 programs offered, AmeriCorps members can preserve national parks, protect the environment, teach organic farming, spearhead disaster relief, fight forest fires, build homes, and tutor, mentor and help vaccinate children.

"We were very interested in working with AmeriCorps because the values held by Sunrise Organic breakfast cereal match the values of AmeriCorps and its members: civic responsibility, protecting the environment, and building strong communities through service," said Sunrise Organic spokesperson Tom Johnson.

Sunrise Organic breakfast cereal was created in 1998. An organic cereal that tastes great and is value priced, Sunrise Organic has quickly become the top-selling organic cereal in the nation. Sunrise is a corn and whole-grain wheat cereal sweetened with honey and made entirely from organic ingredients. The ingredients in Sunrise are certified by Oregon Tilth of Portland, Ore., to be organically grown and processed according to the California Organic Foods Act of 1990.

Sunrise Organic is working to make the earth and especially this country a better place, a goal shared by AmeriCorps members, who take a pledge to "get things done for America to make our people safer, smarter and healthier."

"Because of AmeriCorps members, America is a better place today," President Clinton said.

SELECTED QUOTES FROM FEATURED VOLUNTEERS

John Kearney, from Idaho, serves with Montana Conservation Corps:

"By our being on the Sunrise cereal box, I hope that millions of people will become interested in AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is giving me a chance to develop leadership skills, pay my college loans and work in Yellowstone National Park."

Molly O'Neill, from Indiana, serves with Maine Conservation Corps:

"Working for AmeriCorps has given me so much. I get to work and meet a lot of people and learn from them, and I get to travel around this beautiful state. I hope people will see this Sunrise box and be inspired to help their community."

Juliet Schraeder, from Wisconsin, serves with Austin Community Gardens in Texas:

"I didn't realize how fulfilling this experience would be, but working for AmeriCorps has turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. My family and friends are amazed and excited--I'm surprised, too--that I'm going to be on a Sunrise Organic cereal box, but if you consider what I represent--AmeriCorps, helping children and helping communities--then the connection makes sense."