[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/21/obama.service/art.obamaservice.gi.jpg caption="Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, left, introduces President Obama at the bill signing on Tuesday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama signed into law Tuesday a measure 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, recently renamed to honor the Massachusetts 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.
"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."
Kennedy, his niece Caroline Kennedy, former President Bill Clinton, and former first lady Rosalynn Carter were in attendance when Obama signed the measure into law at a Washington-area school that encourages volunteerism as part of its curriculum.