In honor of Pioneer day, Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Peter Cooke has introduced new policy initiatives that focus on community service and helping college graduates pay off student loans. Cooke presented his plan this morning at This is The Place Heritage Park, where Brigham Young first saw the Salt Lake Valley one hundred and sixty five years ago.
If elected, Cooke has pledged to create something called the Utah Service Corps, in which Utah college students would volunteer anywhere in the state for up to two years after graduation in exchange for credits towards payments on their student loans.
“The only way we can begin to be able to get our young people to be back involved is to address two things," he says. "One of those is the high cost of student loans which goes back and forth, and the second is just like when we had the great peace corps back in the times of the 60’s, we’ll have our own corps.”
He says the program would be funded by businesses and individual donations.
Cooke is also urging the state office of education to add a civics course requirement to the high school curriculum and school districts to create service learning programs in exchange for college credit.
“We can light a fire," he says. "We can begin to make people in Utah just as our Pioneers did to believe in a future, to believe in community and to believe in service and not just talk about it.”
Cooke added he plans to recognize those who promote community service through two Governor’s awards. He says he doesn’t have any businesses or individuals committed to the proposed programs yet, and he doesn’t know how much his initiatives would cost.