Points of Light – The Legacy

“We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light … we all have something to give.”

President George H.W. Bush

More than 25 years ago, President George H. W. Bush gave voice and direction to a movement in America that’s steadily grown ever since – changing countless lives, and building stronger, more resilient communities across this country and around the world.

In his 1989 inaugural address, President Bush inspired individuals to take voluntary action in their communities as points of light “spread throughout the nation, doing good.” He established the Daily Point of Light Award in 1990 to recognize extraordinary individuals making a difference. And in response to President Bush’s call to action, the Points of Light Foundation was created as an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit organization to encourage and empower the spirit of service.

In the two decades after leaving office, President Bush nurtured and spurred the volunteer movement with active, visible, strategic leadership to continue to galvanize people, capital and public will that has forever changed the social sector. Among scores of examples, a few stand out as illustrative of President Bush’s powerful and catalytic impact – all underscored by the bipartisan support and commitment of each succeeding president.

  • President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act, creating the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps, SeniorCorps, and Learn and Serve America.

  • President Clinton, President Bush, President Jimmy Carter, President Gerald Ford and First Lady Nancy Reagan attended The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future, an event focused on mobilizing Americans’ citizen power in an effort to solve the nation’s problems through voluntary action.

  • President George W. Bush’s Council on Service and Civic Participation created the President’s Volunteer Service Award, administered by Points of Light, as a way to thank and honor Americans who take voluntary action in their communities.

  • President Barack Obama signed the historic Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, heralding the next phase in voluntary action. With President Obama’s “United We Serve” initiative and Serve.gov, a technology powered by Points of Light’s All For Good platform that connects volunteers to projects, his administration inspired a renewal of President George H. W. Bush’s call to service two decades earlier.

    Points of Light hosted the Presidential Forum on Service, uniting President Obama and President George H. W. Bush, and recognizing the 20th anniversary of President Bush’s invocation of a thousand points of light.

  • Points of Light hosted “All Together Now: A Celebration of Service,” a historic, nationally televised event at the Kennedy Center celebrating the leadership of President and Mrs. George H. W. Bush in advancing the modern-day service movement. President Bill Clinton served as honorary chairman of the event, attending the program with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, demonstrating the strong bipartisan heritage of the service movement. President Barack Obama paid tribute in a video message.

    WATCH: Presidents Bush, Carter, Clinton and Obama pay tribute to President George H. W. Bush.

  • President Obama and President George H. W. Bush joined dozens of service leaders from throughout the country at a White House ceremony to present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award.

  • Through a partnership with the British government, Prime Minister David Cameron began issuing a UK Daily Point of Light Award from 10 Downing Street. Since then, nearly 1000 points of light have been recognized.

  • Points of Light celebrated 25 years of service, recognizing the extraordinary contributions of President George H. W. Bush, and the leaders who have carried his vision forward, multiplying thousands of points of light into the unmistakable brilliance of today.

Today, Points of Light is the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – inspiring, equipping and mobilizing millions of people to take action that is changing the world. Through the Points of Light Network of more than 200 affiliates in 35 countries, and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, we engage 5 million people in 20 million hours of service each year.

President George H. W. Bush’s famous “thousand points of light” speech renewed our spirit of volunteerism and galvanized the modern national service movement. His words and example, his legacy of service will endure. They resonate today and will continue to inspire tomorrow, and for generations to come.

Honor His Legacy: Pledge to Serve

Use the map to pledge your service.