Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed a bill into law on Monday that will make the state the first to offer a "service year" for high school graduates.
Even before he was elected last year, Gov. Moore said he wanted to be known as the "service governor." In signing the Serve Act into law, the U.S. Army combat veteran says it will encourage young people in Maryland to care for their community.
"It is completely your choice," Gov. Moore says. "We just want to make sure that we are offering our young people the chance to make our state better and to give youth a pathway to do something that makes their heart beat a little bit faster."
High school graduates who are accepted into the program will be able to serve in areas like education, conservation, literacy or veterans affairs. After one year, they'll get $6,000 for college.
Graduates can apply up to three years after getting their diploma.
"As you look at high schoolers coming out, about to walk across that stage, but don’t yet know what they’re going to do with their career, a year of service at a nonprofit, a public agency, or a for-profit would allow them to get soft and hard skills that make them more marketable at the end of their term of service," says the new Secretary of Maryland's Department of Service and Education Paul Monterio.
The new state budget has set aside $13.7 million to launch the new department. State officials tell FOX 5 they hope to launch this fall with the first 200 applicants and grow the program to 2,000 in the next few years.