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More value and service-learning guidance than ever!

Posted By Amy Meuers, Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Educate. Connect. Grow. Save.

NYLC is excited to announce our new annual membership program, offering more value and service-learning guidance than ever!

NYLC’s new membership structure and benefits provides access to the resources and support you need to successfully bring service-learning into your schools, classrooms, and afterschool programs. Members can access members-only service-learning webinars on timely topics, live monthly Ask-the-Expert sessions, the Service-Learning Connect peer online community, and a searchable member directory. In addition, Premium Members have access to an online webinar archive of over 100 topics, discounts on registration for our National Service-Learning Conference and events, and more. Organizations can register for Premium membership bundles and save 33% for their staff.

Learn more and join us at

Special Limited-Time Rate: $50 off individual memberships through 12/31!

If you joined under the previous Service-Learning Network membership structure, those legacy memberships have expired. See the new membership options available to you, then go to and click on Sign In at the top and select one of the new types. Questions? See FAQ’s or Contact us.

Not ready to commit to a membership? You can still access our Service-Learning Resource Center, a subscription to The Leader, and a monthly Teaching Tool download by becoming a free Subscriber. Check out options here.

Tags:  advancing the field  membership  service-learning 

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Reflecting on the Youth Leadership Summit on Education Equity

Posted By Amy Meuers, Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Reflecting on the Youth Leadership Summit on Education Equity

By: Talia Yohai, student at Colegio NUEVA GRANADA

Participating in the 2020 Youth Leadership Summit by NYLC taught me a lot about the importance of leadership and service learning in order to address issues regarding education inequity all over the world.

In this conference, I had the chance to talk to many teenagers from many different parts of the world that wanted to come up with solutions to the education inequity in their own situations. Talking to these very different people, I realized that for many people, education inequity is seen more in terms of the diversity and the intersectionality of the students.  Meanwhile on the other hand, here in Colombia education inequity is seen more in the sense of socioeconomic status and privilege vs poverty.

Coming into the Summit, I did not really imagine and understand that education inequity is definitely seen when it comes to different identities. Then I started to think about it and it definitely made sense and I even started to relate to some of the things that they were saying about the difficulties in education when one has a diverse identity. In my community, the Jewish religion is a minority among the Christian religion. In my school, you can see this as well, with there only being up to 10 Jewish kids in each grade (if any).

This conference for me brought to light the idea of how I myself experience education inequity due to my intersectionality. I am not saying that I have ever felt oppressed by anyone because of my religion but I now realize that in my school, because the majority of the students and staff belong to the Christian religion, Judaism can at sometimes be slightly disregarded. At times I have heard students say jokes about the Holocaust that really impact me given that I am a Jew, but because I have to “fit in”, I just stay quiet and pretend like it’s okay. The Summit showed me that I can stand up for my identity and I should not have to even hear these jokes made about a very harsh subject to my community.

I think that the conference definitely lit up a spark in me and makes me want to stand up and advocate against the hate and anti semitism to my religion. On another note, we also had a session focused on service learning and leadership. I really love doing social service and I learned a lot about how I can be a better leader. By taking the test to see which type of leader I am, I saw that being a South, I am really focused on creating relationships with others and the more human side of service. This kind of confirmed to me that I want to make a difference for people who are facing issues by connecting to them. I also feel like I really got to understand the IPARD (Investigation, Planning & Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Demonstration) process of service much better thanks to the explanation they gave because even though we had seen it in VIP one time, I didn't really fully understand it. But now, knowing the process I want to apply it to whenever I do social service because I really liked the steps and the way it was organized.

Finally, I learned that many teens have the same fear of trying to make a big difference like me because we are afraid of what others may think. I now know that we are the future of the world and we can actually start making differences now! I want to try to think of a project with the IPARD idea in my mind to see if I find a cause that passions me to want to help!


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Youth Leadership Summit on Education Equity: Reflection

Posted By Sarah Galindo, Student at Colegio NUEVA GRANADA, Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Youth Leadership Summit on Education Equity: Reflection

By: Sarah Galindo, student at Colegio NUEVA GRANADA

It is amazing to see how big the world is in terms of diversity. The number of cultures, beliefs, looks, and stories that everyone has to share. This was something eye-opening that this Youth Leadership Summit left within my thoughts. It was really interesting to see teenagers from South Africa, Morocco, Mexico, the US, and many more who battle with issues regarding education and the lack of equity within its system, which is also a problem found in my community.

Day one of this summit was all about communication. Meeting people and their stories, listening to their goals in life, and the challenges that they have gone through.

Bella, one of the leaders of the summit, mentioned that access to wifi in her community is a privilege, as she lives in an area where wifi companies don’t find it convenient to work on. She mentioned that every time she needs to do any work regarding internet connection, she has to go to her mother's classroom, as her mother is a teacher. What impacted me the most, is that Bella lives in the US and I always believed that most of the citizens of the United States had access to wifi, little did I know I was completely wrong.

When talking about goals in life, a teenager from Washington, said that his main long-term goal was to change the information portrayed in our history textbooks as it doesn’t show who the real heroes are and factors like white-supremacy are shown in the information portrayed. Considering the impact history class has on students and the way many are formed with the ideas taught, it is something that must change, no matter the opposition. This also impacted me, as I never questioned before what I was being taught in history class in school and the power I have to identify what type of knowledge I'm absorbing.

Day two was all about finding out what personality we have and the influence that it has on bringing change and interacting with others. We used the North-East-West-South method which by answering some questions, could give us an orientation. I learned that I'm a North-Eastern. North, as I'm goal and task-driven, preferring to be in control when dealing with groups, enjoying challenges, and being courageous, not afraid to be at the front. East, as I'm visionary, thinking about the future all the time, insightful in missions and purposes, and loves to use creativity within finding solutions. However, knowing that I have these personality traits, I have to be careful with time management, have to be more patient when going through projects, and grounded in reality when thinking of ideas. This tool of learning what personality I have and my strengths and weaknesses are certainly necessary. Growing comes with interacting with many different people and personalities. Knowing how to deal with all of these factors is a huge advantage when completing goals.

Day three, the last day was the opportunity to start thinking on an action plan. This was crucial for understanding our positions and privileges. We learned about the IPARD process: Investigation, Planning, and Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Demonstration. These are the steps that should be taken into consideration when working on an objective. We saw how two girls in Bali, followed this strategy and achieved the eradication of plastic! Lessons like thinking outside the box, persistence, the power of knowledge, working with adults and knowing how to use their support without losing youth power and walking your talk even if it's tough, were incredibly important to my new insight on working within solutions for my community development.

I can proudly say that this summit was incredible, the feeling of motivation got to me. It was an opportunity to see how big the world is and how privileged I am. Knowing that, I can share my story so that I can change others' mindsets is the first step to changing the world.

All of the skills taught during this summit are certainly going to help me achieve this, as they set the foundation to do so.

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Youth Summit on Education Equity: A Reflection

Posted By Amy Meuers, Thursday, August 13, 2020

Written by: Helene Francis and Adah Satre-Pratt, NYLC interns

From July 20th to the 22nd the Youth Action Coalition of National Youth Leadership Council hosted a Youth Leadership Summit in which young people from around the world were able to attend and learn how to become better leaders in their communities and more specifically strengthen their knowledge on education inequities and how they present themselves in different forms. The young activists that attended came from places such as Colombia, Venezuela, South Africa, New York City, Minneapolis, Tennessee, and Dallas. The summit lasted 3 days for 4-hour sessions each of those days.

While I attended I learned things about being an active listener by not waiting to speak but listening to what is said, and by using non-verbal communication such as nodding to convey that you are understanding what's being said. As well, we talked about what young minds are able to bring to any cooperative project that adults may not be able to showcase, and vice versa. These were things such as new ideas, enthusiasm, motivation, and experience. These things were things that I had maybe never thought about before but the most important thing that I learned while attending the summer that week was that to become a leader in your community it is important to focus on what you need to strengthen in yourself and how can you better understand the needs of the people around you before you advocate for them.

After 2 days of informative lectures and slideshow, which intermittently had breakout rooms, we spent the last day of the summit discussing how to apply the information about education and becoming an advocate for your education and your rights. These were things like actively listening to the people around you, privilege mapping, and then going out into your community and seeking change in your schools or neighborhoods.

We discussed how learning about the identities represented in your school has value and some are often underrepresented in media. We learned how to value the privileges you might possess but might not recognize as much as things like economic status, sexuality, race, and gender. Things like if you are able-bodied or not, or if you speak the language that's most commonly spoken in your area were things that I personally had never recognized in myself. These are all things that play into how represented minorities of different types are in schools.

All these things lead up to challenging the people in the call to seek equity in their schools, whether it's by helping support students with fewer resources or finding ways to communicate the things that minority voices might not be able to communicate in the same way. In a world where voices are not represented equally, we must seek ways to support those who cannot be heard by others.

Overall, I learned so much about what it means to be an advocate for education equity and how to be a better activist and support all voices and not just the injustices that apply to my identity. I learned more specifically about the results of education inequity and about how unjust it can really be. Things like unequal treatment or lack of supplies can ultimately lead to people not doing well in school which takes away from their opportunities to be successful after high school in whichever path they take. These are reasons to find creative and alternative ways to change a system that is not meant for everyone and to find ways for students to feel comfortable in schools while getting the best chance they can and ultimately getting an equal opportunity to everyone around them.

Tags:  education equity  service learning  youth voice 

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The Time is Now to Invest in Service-Learning

Posted By Amy Meuers, Thursday, June 25, 2020

Prior to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, we were seeing years of stressed educational systems, communities divided, and many young people disengaged. As the current situation shows in what some are calling the “tale of two pandemics,” existing societal injustices are being further amplified, individuals isolated, and students’ educational outcomes are at risk. And at a time when they face risks to mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing as well.

At the same time, we know many stories of success, with young people leading the way in creating positive change in their schools and communities. Bringing the power of youth-led service tied to academic and civic outcomes is once again coming to the forefront as a solution to the challenges we face in our country and around the world. In these times, NYLC’s mission to create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world, with young people, their schools, and communities through service-learning takes on a new and even more vital importance. We remain steady in our belief in the power of young people to lead us to solutions.

We are not alone; the momentum is growing with a realization of the impact of youth-led service as an effective vehicle for learning and citizenship. In addition to a host of proven academic, social, and career outcomes:

  • “A Republic (Still) at Risk- and Civics is Part of the Solution” published in 2017 acknowledges service-learning as one of six proven practices for restoring faith and participation in our democracy. (The list further includes student voice in schools, and student-led voluntary associations).
  • In 2019, a group of foundations convened a project study our nation’s capacity to create citizens who are well-informed, productively engaged in working for the common good, and, hopeful about our democracy. “[W]e need to fundamentally rethink and enrich the ways we prepare young people to be successful citizens in a democracy… to imagine a lifetime of civic learning and practice.” Service-learning fits squarely within the civic learning eco-system, supporting the shift of focus from merely direct Civics education in one high school class to civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions beyond classrooms in K-12 schools, and beyond schools to community organizations and post-secondary institutions.
  • In “Inspired to Serve” issued last month (May 2020), the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service—a bi-partisan commission completing two and a half years of extensive research—concluded with a compelling call to revitalize civic education and expand service-learning over the next 10 years. They recognize these as key factors to ensure young people are fully prepared to participate in civic life and understand the importance of service.

In the last decade, beginning with the 2009 elimination of Learn and Service America, closely followed by a shift in focus of major national funders, we have seen an exponential drop in financial support for organizations and schools at all levels- national, regional, state, and local to do service-learning. While interest and demand for high-quality service-learning resources remained high, the ability to implement decreased significantly. Many organizations and initiatives ultimately had to close their doors.


With a new focus on civic learning and youth voice, now is the time to reinvest in service-learning. We know from experience that service-learning is a proven strategy to engage students in their education when they understand that their service is authentic, has substance over time, and can be understood in the context of academic or civic content. It is time for service-learning to expand in classrooms and communities across the nation.

Tags:  civic education  service-learning  youth voice 

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Best Practices for Online Service-Learning

Posted By Amy Meuers, Thursday, June 25, 2020

In just two short months, schools will be back in session. The continued worries from the coronavirus pandemic have administrators across the world scrambling to figure out what learning will look like for students. What we do know is that whether students are in classrooms, online, or a hybrid of both, service-learning can enhance student engagement, increase academic knowledge and skills, and inspire students to engage as active citizens in their communities.


Service-learning allows for meaningful learning opportunities for youth through contribution to community. It empowers young people to address issues they see in their school, in their community, or around the world. It provides them an opportunity to feel empowered, to share their voice, and to engage in the civic process. When students have service-learning experiences, they build a commitment to life-long service.


To ensure service-learning experiences continue in these uncertain times, we have put together best practices for online service-learning. We want the process of service-learning to be done with quality so that it continues to meet the needs of students and educators alike.


Online Service-Learning Best Practices:

  • Set norms for how you will work together. Be clear expectations, communication, and behaviors.
  • Cultivate belonging. We know relationships matter so pay close attention to strategies that build relationships like one-on-one interactions, small group discussions, and discussion boards.
  • Focus on the process of service-learning, not the platform. The pedagogy of service-learning engages students in the learning process, gives them a voice, and builds their connection to each other and the community.
  • Identify what learning outcomes you want for your students (academic, civic, social-emotional, etc.)
  • Determine how you will know they have met learning outcomes. (What criteria will you use? What evidence will you collect? How will you assess learning at the end of the experience?)
  • Then, facilitate students through the IPARD process:
    • Investigation: students need to understand root causes of the issue they want to address. Understanding why the problem exists is an essential part of the problem-solving process. Much of investigation can be done remotely. Students can read articles, interview experts via phone, send out community surveys, or scour the internet for information (learning to distinguish between fact and opinion).
    • Planning & Preparation: planning is fundamental to ensuring students are ready serve as a cohesive team. Technology is made for collaboration and teamwork. Students create timelines, task lists, budgets and more.
    • Action: the service part of service-learning does not have to be direct (in-person). In-direct service activities like raising funds or supplies are great ways to do service. Partnering with a local nonprofit that has safety protocols in place for receiving donations ensures student safety. Advocating or educating others about your issue is another way to safely serve remotely.
    • Reflection: learning does not come from the act of service but in thinking about the experience itself.  Whether personal, small group, or the entire class, reflection reinforces student learning outcomes. Reflection can be written, visual, auditory, or more.
    • Demonstration: sharing students' experiences is an important culmination of the service-learning process. Technology allows students to be creative in telling their story and allows them to share broadly. Whether students create storyboards or podcasts, write a blog or newspaper article, or develop a play or music performance. Demonstration provides evidence of student learning and effect on the community issue.
  • Together, the students and teacher then assess the success of their experience. Did students meet the learning outcomes? Did they meet the community need? What worked? What would you have done differently?
  • Lastly, try different technology engagement strategies.  Start with a few that you know and then don’t be afraid to experiment.  Ask your students if they have any platforms that they prefer.  Maybe even have one of the young people lead the experience.  Check out our growing list of technology tools that support online service-learning.


When teachers lead students through the process of service-learning whether online, in person, or a hybrid of both, students will gain the knowledge and skills to become civically informed and engaged citizens who have the know-how to make the world a better place.


Tags:  civic engagement  online learning  service-learning 

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A Statement Regarding the Tragic Events in Minneapolis

Posted By Amy Meuers, Wednesday, May 27, 2020
For more than 35 years, the National Youth Leadership Council has advocated for youth voice and leadership for all young people from our home state of Minnesota. We advocate for young people to lead change where they see injustice. Therefore, we cannot stand by and not share our outrage at the tragic, gratuitous death of George Floyd this past week in Minneapolis. The system designed to keep people safe and secure is clearly broken when yet another person of color is murdered on our streets. In his memory, and the memory of so many other African-Americans whose lives have tragically been lost, we will continue to develop and support young people in not only challenging but changing the broken systems that cause harm to us all. We will strengthen our own resolve to continue to develop young people as leaders of today who value and recognize that our differences make us stronger, who respect and appreciate that there are tensions among interests, and who understand that from those tensions that we gain stronger perspectives on issues and can approach them with vulnerability and humility. And, that by embracing our differences we can find a common purpose – to make the world a better place for us all. In Service, Amy Meuers and the NYLC team

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Now is the Time to Invest in Service-Learning

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 4, 2020

In its final 255-page report to Congress last month entitled Inspired to Serve, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service issued a compelling call to expand civic education and service-learning over the next 10 years to ensure young people have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to participate in civic life and understand the importance of service.


The National Youth Leadership Council is pleased to have been a contributor to the National Commission's report process, providing both written and in-person testimony, coordinating focus groups and presentation opportunities, as well as providing the National Commission opportunities to hear directly from youth and the service-learning community over the past year.


The final report includes two major recommendations that will elevate civics to the same level as math and reading in the Nation’s Report Card.


1.     Establish a Civic Education Fund at the Department of Education to provide up to $200 million of grants for teacher development and the development of civic education, applied civics, and service-learning programs; eligible entities would include State and local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, community-based organizations, and nonprofit organizations.


2.     Establish a Service-Learning Fund within the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to issue $250 million in grants annually, with 20% for K-college service-learning programs; 40% for grades 6-12 Summer of Service programs; and 40% for grades 9-12 Semester of Service programs.


The National Youth Leadership Council supports the Commission’s recommendation to Congress in the form of the Inspire to Serve Act of 2020 and the challenge to our Nation to cultivate a culture of service so that:


“By 2031—the 70th anniversary of President Kennedy’s call for Americans to serve their Nation—the Commission envisions that 5 million Americans will begin participating in military, national, or public service each year.”


To achieve this vision, it will be necessary for K-12 administrators, educators, and students to take an active role in advancing service-learning through actions,  such as:


  •  Encouraging federal investment in civic education and service-learning by contacting members of Congress in support of the Inspire to Service Act 2020.
  •  Increasing access to high-quality service-learning experiences to foster a culture of service in which Americans can identify how their own strengths, skills, and interests can contribute to the public good by addressing needs in their communities.
  •  Supporting service-learning best practices including the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice.
  •  Incorporating service-learning within school curricula to prepare students as civically informed and engaged citizens.
  •  Investing in service-learning professional development to gain and improve the knowledge and skills of educators to ensure quality practice and implementation.


"The support of K-12 administrators, educators, and students is going to be key to the success of expanding quality service-learning so that ‘service becomes a passage to adulthood’ as called for by the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service,” said Amy Meuers, CEO of the National Youth Leadership Council. “By expanding quality service-learning practice to students across K-12 systems, we ensure students understand the rights and obligations of being a citizen of our Nation. We know from experience that service-learning is a proven strategy to engage students in their education when they understand that their service is authentic, has substance over time, and can be understood in the context of academic or civic content. It is time for service-learning to expand in classrooms across the Nation to fulfill the timely recommendations in this report.”


For more than 35 years, the National Youth Leadership Council has supported the advancement service-learning in K-12 education by empowering teachers, transforming classrooms, and engaging students by providing high-quality service-learning content, customized professional development, resources, and programs including the National Service-Learning Conference and Service-Learning Network. To learn more about service-learning and NYLC, visit


Tags:  civic education  inspire2servce  service-learning 

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Tennessee Expands Service-Learning in Afterschool

Posted By Julie Rogers Bascom, Thursday, April 9, 2020

NYLC supports 14 states in the Statewide Afterschool Network with technical support, coaching, grants, trainings, and resources to  develop or expand service-learning in afterschool programs in their state. These selected networks work collaboratively with each other and NYLC so that service-learning becomes a sustainable and systematic part of afterschool learning.


During the cohort’s monthly call in February, Mary Graham, Lead for Tennessee’s Afterschool Network (TAN), shared insight into how she supports, grows and uses service-learning as a strategy to bring benefits to Tennessee’s youth and youth workers.  Wearing multiple hats, Graham says she was “interested in service-learning and how it builds character, leadership and academics. I view service-learning as a way to address other issues like obesity and the opioid crisis. I looked strategically as a way to combine efforts for more impact.”


Here are a few words of advice from a seasoned service-learning leader:

  • Get the right people at the table.  Look at who you have partnerships with and invite them to help you strengthen the efforts.  Maybe it’s a steering committee, training partners or funding support - there are lots of resources out in the field to share and your team can help you access curricula, trainers, and data.  Graham reminds us, “This also helps to align with existing efforts - align service-learning with other initiatives for strong impact.”
  • Start early.  Gather your team, strategize and plan for training and deep understanding which allows youth workers time to understand and organize.  “We started training programs in March for a summer program and that wasn’t enough time.”
  • Consider diverse pilots.  What will work at one site won’t always work at another.  Find where the interest is and support them to be successful
  • Require an agreement of MOU with pilots.  If a program is receiving free training, technical assistance and funding, regardless of how small,  they need to commit to producing an outcome. This establishes a commitment to results and ability to track performance.
  • Pilot sites needed ongoing technical assistance.  Because there is so much staff turnover in out-of-school programs, ongoing training and support helps to ensure that workers have what they need to use service-learning with their youth.
  • Educate. Educate. Educate.  There is a difference between community service and service-learning. “You need to make sure leaders and partners and workers know what service-learning is, why to use it and what kind of outcomes it can bring.  Tennessee has 8 hubs across the state and all of these hubs are required to know what service-learning is and how to use it.”  


The benefits to service-learning are vast and varied but when service-learning is woven into a program’s fabric, youth enhance their academic, 21st Century, leadership, and social emotional skills because they are physically out in the community, making real change happen. It demonstrates that afterschool programs are developing the next generation of engaged and informed citizens who are ready to address community needs.


Thank you Mary, for being a leader in the out-of-school service-learning world. Learn more about our work with the Statewide Afterschool Network

Tags:  afterschool  out-of-school  service-learning 

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New Report Supports K-12 Service-Learning

Posted By Amy Meuers, Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service have made their final recommendation to Congress to advance military and non-military national service in the United States in the report Inspired to Serve. The report outlines a challenge to the Nation that by 2031, the 70th anniversary of President Kennedy’s call for Americans to serve their Nation—“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country, ”— that 5 million Americans will begin participating in military, national, or public service each year. 


To that end, NYLC fully endorses the recommendations of the Commission to advance K-12 service-learning and civic education through the creation of a civic education fund and a service-learning fund. We call on Congress to invest in our Nation’s youth so that they become civically informed and engaged citizens by participating in service-learning and civic education during their formative years. 


To achieve this goal, the United States must make a concerted effort to prioritize robust civic education and academically relevant, high-quality service-learning at all levels of education including kindergarten to 12th grade.  The Commission’s report calls on Congress and the President to bolster the Federal investment in civic education and service-learning by appropriating $450 million each year to civic education and service-learning funds. 


In addition, the Federal Government will recognize both as national priorities and will lay the foundation to ensure that students at all levels have access to high-quality civic education and service-learning opportunities. The realization of this vision will mean that every individual will be exposed to service opportunities throughout their lifetime, beginning with young people experiencing robust civic education and service-learning during elementary, middle, and high school.


The National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) has been at the forefront of the K-12 service-learning movement for more than 36 years. We know that the future of our democracy depends on our collective ability to create informed and engaged citizens by ensuring an excellent education foundation that includes robust civic education and service-learning. In a democratic society, the educational opportunities we provide students must not only help them learn core subject matter but must prepare them to be civically informed and engaged citizens. The benefits to service-learning are proven to provide young people with the knowledge, skills, and character to embrace the democratic practices needed to support the health and security of our democracy. 


Additional information about the report will be shared at the 31st Annual National Service-Learning Conference Virtual Experience on April 17th at 4:00 p.m. CST.  Commissioner Thomas Kilgannon will present findings from the report and answer questions from conference participants. Questions may be submitted ahead of time to


Tags:  civic education  national service  service-learning 

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