(CNN) – President Barack Obama will be at Texas A&M University to attend a community service forum Friday hosted by one of his Republican predecessors, former President George H.W. Bush.
The two leaders will meet at Bush's presidential library to celebrate almost two decades of work from the Points of Light Institute, which was
founded with Bush's encouragement in 1990 to "encourage and empower the spirit of service," according to the group's Web site.
The Institute takes its name from Bush's 1989 inaugural address, where he referenced "a thousand points of light ... all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the nation, doing good."
Obama latched onto the theme during last year's presidential campaign. He signed a measure in April designed to strengthen national community service efforts by boosting federal funding for thousands of volunteers in fields ranging from clean energy to health care and education.
The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, renamed to honor the late senator's sponsorship of the measure, will more than triple the number of positions in the AmeriCorps program, from 75,000 to 250,000, by 2017.
"Our government can help to rebuild our economy ... (but) we need Americans willing to mentor our eager young children, or care for the sick, or ease the strains of deployment on our military families," Obama said when signing the bill into law.
"All that's required on your part is a willingness to make a difference. And that is, after all, the beauty of service. Anybody can do it."
The law created four new national service corps and launched several other initiatives, including, among other things, a "Summer of Service" program to spur greater community outreach by middle- and high-school students. Older Americans were encouraged to volunteer more through the creation of a "Silver Scholars" program, under which individuals 55 and older who perform 350 hours of service receive a $1,000 award.
The law increased the existing AmeriCorps educational stipend offered to volunteers to $5,350 - the same amount as the maximum Pell college grant.
Some critics have contended the measure, expected to cost roughly $6 billion over the next five years, is fiscally irresponsible in light of the
current economic downturn. They also argue that the concept of volunteerism is undermined by providing financial compensation for community service.
Points of Light Institute CEO Michelle Nunn, however, praised the legislation for encouraging people to "volunteer their time and talents to
positively impact the nation's largest problems."
–CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report