Governor Moore Launches Service Year Option, First-in-the-Nation Public Service Year Program for High School Graduates

Published: 10/27/2023

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Governor Wes Moore today launched the historic Service Year Option, the first-in-the nation public service year program for high school graduates. The governor was joined by fellow service champions Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller; First Lady Dawn Moore; Department of Service and Civic Innovation Secretary Paul Monteiro and several cabinet members; University of Maryland President Darryll Pines; legislators, program host employers, and program participants for a festive kickoff event at the University of Maryland, College Park’s Reckord Armory.

“By calling Marylanders to serve – and serve together – we will ensure our citizens develop skills to meet society’s needs. I look on this inaugural cohort and I see courage, compassion, and vision. I am so grateful for your willingness to raise your hands and join this new endeavor,” said Gov. Moore. “You are the trailblazers who will define not just the future of these programs, but the future trajectory of our state. Service isn’t a vision we claim, it’s a tradition we inherit. Service will save us.”

Governor Moore speaks to the crowd at the Service Year Launch at the University of Maryland, College Park. 

 The Maryland Department of Service and Civic Innovation in its first year is expanding service and volunteerism statewide, creating new pathways of service to meet community needs, enhance workforce development, and promote preparedness for both higher and vocational education. The department is home to the new Service Year Option and Maryland Corps, in addition to bolstering the reach of existing volunteer opportunities through the Governor’s Office of Service and Volunteerism.

“Today’s launch of the Service Year Option and the work of this inaugural cohort will set the trajectory to make Maryland the state that serves,” said Lt. Gov. Miller. “Service transforms our lives from a life of consumption to a life of contribution. The contributions of this inaugural cohort, and those of future cohorts of the Service Year Option will enrich our communities and our entire state.” 

“Service brings Americans together to strengthen communities and transform lives,” said AmeriCorps Chief Executive Officer Michael D. Smith. “Every day, thousands of Maryland AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers show up for their neighbors in need. Governor Moore’s visionary leadership will usher in a new era of community and national service impact in Maryland and inspire other states to deepen and expand their commitments.”

Lieutenant Governor Miller speaks to the crowd during the Service Year Program Launch. 

The Service Year Option is a service opportunity for young adults who recently completed high school. Members earn at least $15 an hour and work at least 30 hours a week. Members gain both hard and soft skills through a service placement aligned with their area of interest, in addition to working with support coaches to develop and refine their post-service plans—whether they include college, career, or continued service. 

Maryland Corps is a service opportunity for people of all ages. Like the Service Year Option, members earn a minimum of $15 dollars an hour working in organizations that provide job training and professional development. Program partnerships with both Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and community colleges provide an additional level of collaboration and support for members, in addition to  alignment with skilled trades and apprenticeship programs to facilitate transition into continued education or the workforce.

Following completion of their service year, participants in both programs will earn a completion award of $6,000 that may be accessed as a direct payment or as a deposit into a Maryland 529 Education Account for those pursuing their studies.

“Today, I am proud to be here to help bring together public servants in every beautiful sense of that phrase. We share a common belief in the power of service to change lives and improve our society,” said First Lady Dawn Moore. “Maryland is ready to lead, and Marylanders are ready to serve. This is only the beginning. Thank you for helping us build a state that serves.”

Governor Moore signed the Serving Every Region Through Vocational Exploration Act, also known as the SERVE Act, into law in April. The law created the Service Year Option, established the Department of Service and Civic Innovation, and adjusted the provisions of Maryland Corps to bring the program to life. Since the passage of the SERVE Act, the department worked diligently to recruit both program participants and program host partners.

“I was honored to play a leading role in drafting the SERVE Act and ensuring Maryland led the way in removing barriers to service,” said Senator Mary Washington. “As Maryland proudly launches its Service Year Option and Maryland Corps, I am excited to move closer to the promise of a pathway to develop our future leaders regardless of their backgrounds, and promoting a culture of giving back to the community.” 

Governor Moore stands onstage with members of the Service Year Program. 

Members participating in today’s launch applied to the program through the Maryland Serves application portal. Host organizati​ons include nonprofit organizations, for-profit companies, public agencies, and schools that cover the education, health, public safety, climate, conservation, public service, historic trades, and information technology sectors.

“As a longtime champion of service and civic engagement, I celebrate the launch of the Service Year Option and Maryland Corps as it signals a new era of citizen responsibility and community service,” said Delegate Dana Stein. “It invites us to actively participate in shaping the future of our state, fostering a sense of duty and commitment to our shared home.” 

To learn more about the Service Year Option and Maryland Corps programs, please visit