Community service as recognized by the National Community Service Commemorative Silver Dollar coin was not an invention of the 1960s.
However, perhaps the federally funded national level originated as an offshoot of the international volunteer organization begun in the early ’60s.
In their timeline, the Peace Corps identifies a speech as their earliest historical moment.
On October 14, 1960, in an unplanned campaign speech at 2 am, Senator John F. Kennedy challenged 5000 University of Michigan students to help people in developing countries for two years.
A short time later, the newly-minted President Kennedy signed Executive Order #10924 on March 1, 1961 for the establishment and administration of the Peace Corps in the Department of State.
By summer, 11,000 people submitted applications to the new entity directed by Sargent Shriver.
In late August, President Kennedy hosted a farewell ceremony in the Rose Garden for the first groups of Peace Corps volunteers heading for their tours of service in Ghana and Tanganyika (Tanzania).
On September 22, 1961, Congress passed legislation for the Peace Corps with the following Declaration of Purpose:
“SEC. 2. The Congress of the United States declares that it is the policy of the United States and the purpose of this Act to promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower, and to help promote a better understanding of the American people on the part of the peoples served and a better understanding of other peoples on the part of the American people .”
Upon signing the legislation, President Kennedy remarked, “With the enactment of this legislation, an avenue is provided by which Americans can serve their country in the cause of world peace and understanding and simultaneously assist other nations toward their legitimate goals of freedom and opportunity.”
In undated material from the JFK Library, President Kennedy noted, “But the overseas Peace Corps is not the only way to serve America in her great hour of need. We have problems right here in the United States of America similar to those overseas.
“Last year I advocated a domestic Peace Corps, and just this month Secretary Ribicoff endorsed the idea.
“What, then, is keeping us from moving ahead as quickly with the domestic version as with the overseas version?”
Several groups performed domestic national community service starting in the 1960s. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the National and Community Service Act.
In 1993, the Corporation for National and Community Service was created.
In late September 1994, Congress approved legislation for the National Community Service coin. Inscribed with the year “1996, Congress directed the US Mint to sell the silver dollar coin with a $10 service charge.
Those surcharges would “be promptly paid by the Secretary to the National Community Service Trust for the purpose of funding innovative community service programs at American universities, including the service, research, and teaching activities of faculty and students involved in such programs.”