Dedicated to volunteer service

Our History

The Points of Light Story

  • 1987: Community advocates found New York Cares.
  • 1989: President George H. W. Bush’s inaugural address invokes the vision of a "thousand points of light," and invites the nation to take action through service to their fellow citizens.
  • 1990: President Bush establishes the Daily Point of Light Award for individuals making a difference. During his administration, President Bush formally recognizes more than 1,000 volunteers as "points of light." He advocates that "points of light" demonstrate how "a neighbor can help a neighbor." The award is now administered by Points of Light.
  • 1990: In response to President Bush’s call to action, Points of Light Foundation is created as an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to encourage and empower the spirit of service. The new nonprofit extends President Bush's vision, understanding that "what government alone can do is limited, but the potential of the American people knows no limits."
  • 1991: The Points of Light Foundation merges with the National Volunteer Center Network.
  • 1992: Hands On Atlanta, New York Cares and Greater DC Cares found CityCares (later named HandsOn Network) as a umbrella organization to provide a national network for sharing resources.
  • 1993: President Bill Clinton signs the National and Community Service Trust Act, which initiates the founding of AmeriCorps, a national service program that engages Americans in voluntary action to address the country’s most critical issues.
  • 1994: The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) officially begins operation. CNCS is a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America.
  • 1997: Presidents unite and challenge the nation to think anew at The Presidents' Summit for America's Future. Presidents Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford and first lady Nancy Reagan convene to discuss the nation's pressing social issues and discuss about their role in meeting the needs of the country and world through voluntary action.
  • 2001: The United Nations proclaims the Year of the Volunteer. Points of Light Foundation joins nearly 1,000 national and international partners participating in the year of service and engages its large network of individuals, groups and corporate partners in service to others.
  • 2002: President George W. Bush creates USA Freedom Corps in his 2002 State of the Union address to build on the countless acts of service, sacrifice and generosity that followed Sept. 11, 2001.
  • 2004: CityCares changes its name to HandsOn Network. The name change recognizes the development of HandsOn Network into an international organization.
  • 2005: AmeriCorps Alums, a network of national service alumni with more than half a million national service members, joins HandsOn Network. AmeriCorps Alums connects, equips and engages national service alumni to foster leadership, drive and potential.
  • 2005: HandsOn Network Corporate Service Council is established with 29 founding corporate leaders of Fortune 500 companies. The council has grown to include more than 60 companies representing our nation’s most powerful businesses and industries.
  • 2005: Volunteers mobilize after Hurricane Katrina to assist with disaster relief and recovery. After Hurricane Katrina, Presidents George H. W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush engage Americans in disaster recovery. To meet the needs of those impacted by the Gulf Coast disaster, HandsOn Network establishes an action center in Biloxi, Miss. called HandsOn Gulf Coast.
  • 2007: Points of Light Foundation and HandsOn Network merge to become Points of Light, creating the largest volunteer management and civic engagement organization in the nation.
  • 2008: ServiceNation, an unprecedented coalition of service and volunteer leadership to inspire a new era of voluntary citizen service in America, launches. Points of Light joined organizing committee members including Be the Change Inc., City Year and Civic Enterprises.
  • 2009: President Barack Obama signs the historic Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act heralding in the next phase of the nation’s renewed call to service
  • 2009: President Obama announces United We Serve campaign to engage more Americans in service. Members of President Obama's administration participate in service projects and advocate service as a solution to our nation's most pressing issues.
  • 2009: Points of Light hosts Presidential Forum on Service, uniting President Obama and President George H. W. Bush. The forum recognizes the 20th anniversary of President Bush’s invocation of a thousand points of light and celebrates the volunteer sector’s tremendous gains during the past two decades under Points of Light’s leadership.
  • 2010: Points of Light launches generationOn, a new enterprise focused on igniting the power of all kids to create meaningful change in the world. Through generationOn, Points of Light engages the next generation of volunteers to "make their mark" on the world through voluntary action.
  • 2010: The world rallies to assist Haiti following a deadly earthquake. President Clinton and President George W. Bush unite in a bipartisan effort to engage Americans in service and raise funds for Haiti, asking the nation to partner with them to provide compassionate assistance to the impoverished nation.
  • 2011: President George H. W. Bush, a catalyst in the creation and expansion of Points of Light, is honored by President Obama with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • 2011: The Points of Light Tribute honors President George H. W. Bush. On March 21, 2011, Points of Light hosts “All Together Now: A Celebration of Service,” a historic, once-in-a-lifetime tribute to President and Mrs. George H. W. Bush for their leadership in founding and advancing the modern day service movement. The event celebrates the power of voluntary action and its essential role in solving our national challenges while calling on all Americans to find ways to give back.
  • 2012: Points of Light continues its mission with a global focus to redefine volunteerism and civic engagement for the 21st century by enabling people to use their time, talent, voice and money to make a positive impact.
  • 2013: Release of Five-Year Reflections on the Merger of Points of Light Foundation and HandsOn Network.
  • 2013: President Barack Obama and President George H. W. Bush joined dozens of service leaders from throughout the country at a White House ceremony on July 15, 2013, to present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton of Union, Iowa.
  • 2013: Michelle Nunn announced on July 23, 2013, that she was stepping down from her job as CEO of Points of Light to run for the U.S. Senate from Georgia. Neil Bush, chair of the Points of Light Board of Directors, announced the same day that the board appointed Tracy Hoover as Points of Light’s president. Hoover had previously served as the organization's chief of staff and chief operating officer.