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New Publication Advances Civic Education through Service-Learning

Posted By NYLC, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

(This article was originally posted on December 7th, 2017 on nylc.org.)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (December 7, 2017) —The National Youth Leadership Council is pleased to announce the release of Service-Learning by Design by Dr. Sue Root. This publication will help educators not only teach core subject areas, but prepare students to be civically informed and engaged citizens – ensuring an excellent education for all our children.

Service-learning, as a teaching strategy, involves young people in engaging learning activities while preparing them to be life-long members of a democratic society. This method of teaching and learning requires teachers to intentionally design a curriculum that meets desired results in academic, civic, and social emotional outcomes.

“For students to grow into civically informed and engaged citizens they must have the opportunity to work outside the classroom. Service-learning connects community and classroom, inspiring students to make positive contributions to the world,” said Amy Meuers, National Youth Leadership Council CEO. “This publication will inspire new ideas, strengthen the practice of service-learning, and help students become responsible citizens.”

To purchase your copy of Service-Learning by Designvisit NYLC’s online store. The book is available in both digital and print formats. To learn more about the National Youth Leadership Council and service-learning, visit our site.

Praise for Service-Learning by Design:

  • “I’m very excited to see this important new resource, which will help move the whole field of service-learning into a new phase, with more consistent and powerful outcomes for students, their communities, and the whole democracy. It’s a user-friendly resource for educators, based on the best research.” -Peter Levine, Associate Dean for Research, Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life
  • “Very interesting and really helpful concrete examples of the points in your argument for an alternative model. This seems to move the service-learning and core standards discussions a big step forward.” -Constance Flanagan, Bascom Professor in Women, Family and Community, School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • “Service-Learning by Design is fantastic! It offers a clear, step by step approach to working through intricacies of service-learning…something the field has sorely needed. This work is going to help practitioners in innumerable ways and it will surely be one of the seminal pieces that we’ll all point to years from now.– Andrew Furco, Associate Vice President for Public Engagement, Professor, Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, University of Minnesota

Tags:  civic education  featured  service-learning  service-learning resources 

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Launching a New Service-Learning Class: A Teacher's Perspective

Posted By NYLC, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

(This article was originally posted on February 21st, 2018 on nylc.org.)


by Joy Mazur, guest blogger, English teacher, Morris Knolls High School, Rockaway, NJ


I’m trying something new. I’m a rebel, a renegade, outside the law. I’m going rogue.

I’m making service-learning its own class.

I know, I know — service-learning, by definition, must serve the curriculum: that is, it’s not about the service itself, but the service in service (get it?) of practicing skills and applying knowledge. You can’t make service-learning the content.

But what if you could?

Really, the content in my new full-year service-learning course next year (open to Seniors only) isn’t “service-learning.” It’s language arts skills: communication, research, writing; and college and career readiness skills, like collaboration, leadership, use of technology, practicing critical problem-solving skills, and acting as a responsible and contributing citizen. Students may take the course as an elective or as their Senior year English requirement, so they will be practicing and applying these skills regularly. The curriculum content is flexible, but will have a loose framework in our Character Education Core Virtues, and may cover the historical and philosophical roots of service.

There’s a bit of nagging doubt — because aren’t those skills corollaries to any service-learning project in a content-area course? Couldn’t I just incorporate service-learning in my current English classes?

While I have started to include service-learning as part of some units in English 11 Honors, and I have awesome colleagues in the building who incorporate some form of service-learning as well (although not everyone calls it that), this limits the experience to only our students. If we believe this is a valuable approach to teaching and learning, why should the chance be limited to those students who, through the luck of the draw, end up on our rosters? Requiring every teacher in a district to participate in service-learning may address that problem, but without mass buy-in, it may also result in watered-down, forced, and/or resentfully submitted unit plans.

Engagement is key. So, why not start with the most motivated staff and curious, engaged students? The energy from this cohort, hopefully, will inspire a ripple effect of more teachers getting on board. And I’m ready (or I will be, after next year) to turnkey my own research, seminars, and experiences into meaningful professional development in this area for my colleagues. By devoting a full-year course to service-learning, and allowing it to fulfill an English requirement, my district has demonstrated that we value and support service-learning as something essential to a student’s education, rather than something extra.

Nonetheless, I’m aware of some potential speed bumps:

Engaging the experts without stepping on toes. We have a very active community of service-oriented clubs in our school. How do I learn from this existing network while also establishing service-learning as distinct from community service, and not offending colleagues who have devoted a great deal of time and energy to running these organizations and building relationships in the community? I’ve already discussed with some advisors the possibility that their clubs could be community partners for students in the service-learning class, who may be able to investigate their needs and design projects to support the work that is already being done.

Making service-learning as accessible as possible. It has been my philosophy from the beginning of the course proposal process that a service-learning course should be open to any student who wants to take it. My administrators, mindful of the potential messiness of teaching this course, have placed a hard cap on enrollment. As a result, students must “apply” to take the course, and include recommendations from teachers and counselors. While grateful for the vote of confidence I have been given to run this new course, and the meaningfulness of a guaranteed smaller class size, I worry that this additional gatekeeper — the application — might dissuade the very type of student who could most benefit from the service-learning experience: the student who most needs to see herself as part of something bigger, as capable of making an impact, as a leader, might not want to bother with even the slightest chance of rejection. With this in mind, I have worked closely with the School Counseling office and our Gifted and Talented Coordinator (who also oversees an application process) to develop the application and encourage a diverse cohort of students to apply. I’ve also sought input from both the lead teacher and the Supervisor of our Special Education department, to try to anticipate how to make service-learning as inclusive as it can be.

Keeping the dreams big and the goals small. When I first floated the idea of a service- learning course to my very supportive supervisor, her advice was, “Decide if you are proposing a course… or a program.” I had to admit that in my mind’s eye, this would naturally blossom into a sort of service-oriented Work-Study program (or Cooperative Education program). In some ways, I have already become an ambassador for service-learning in the district, as my proposal presentation introduced the concept to both building principals, the Assistant Superintendent, the Curriculum and Instruction committee, the School Counseling departments, and the Board of Education. Since the course was approved, I’ve reached out to and answered questions from colleagues, students, the Home and School Association, and the community. But in reality, I proposed one course, and the course hasn’t actually run yet. There are practical questions that I haven’t yet answered, like: If the course is entirely skill-based, with the content and focus being decided by the particular cohort of students taking it that year, how do I plan? How do you write a unit plan when the content of the unit is completely student-driven?

Keeping it authentic. Already I am fielding legitimate, but sometimes difficult-to- answer, questions: Will I be able to use this course to complete my Girl Scout Gold Award? We could really use some help with (x, y, z) in the building. Maybe your students could help with that! Isn’t this just a community service class? Will this be, like, way easier than a regular English class? Do you go on a lot of field trips? The answer is inevitably some version of “Yes and no” or “It depends.” Introducing this as a new course gives me a lot of creative freedom, but also a great deal of responsibility to keep our focus on the essential qualities that make service-learning unique, and valuable.

Living up to the hype. I did a lot of promoting in the process of proposing this course, and got a tremendous amount of support at all levels. Service-learning is really an easy sell, after all: it’s student-driven, problem-based, authentic, civically-minded, collaborative… all while addressing concrete academic skills! Who wouldn’t vote for that?

I gained most of my resources for this proposal at the NYLC Educator Institute in Philadelphia last fall, and that weekend, one of our mantras about service-learning became: “It’s messy.” I now wonder, since service-learning is new to our district, and relatively new to me, and certainly new in this format, do any of us really understand how messy? In every meeting I had to pitch this course, I reiterated that some failure will likely be a part of the learning process for students as they grow to understand the realities of project management, grant-writing, and working with community partners. My administrators said they understood this. And hopefully they do!

I’ve also tried to emphasize that while I will be a liaison and point person, I won’t be managing multiple student projects myself. Working toward the higher steps of Hart’s Ladder of Youth-Adult Partnerships should transfer ownership to these near-adults, who have elected to take on this unique level of responsibility during the school day. In fact, students are already moving to the center of the class: as part of a service-learning unit in my classroom this year, inspired by our district summer reading book (Front of the Class by Brad Cohen), a handful of students designed what they thought of as a “wishful thinking” course centered around empathy. They ended up working closely with me to refine the proposal I had already begun, and to promote service-learning both before and after its official approval.

I’ve been a public school teacher for 15 years, and have been wanting to start “Community Service Co-op” for almost as long. I thought of it as my own “wishful thinking” class. It wasn’t until recently that I began doing the research and discovered that it was a real thing, called service-learning, for which curricular support and pedagogical resources abound! I am so grateful to NYLC for their quality professional development and ongoing support through the Generator School Network, which gave me both the confidence and the vocabulary to bring this concept to fruition in my school. I’m also quite lucky to work in a district that will support this endeavor that is unique among public high schools in our area.

I feel invigorated and inspired, even though the course hasn’t started yet, and the response from students has been truly uplifting. They are ready to do something different, something meaningful, something real.

What seemed like a crazy idea is a natural fit with the reasons I got into teaching in the first place, and the things I’ve found to be most important in education. For me, it’s not a rebellion — it’s a revolution.

Tags:  featured  service-learning  youth engagement  youth voice 

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Service-Learning August/September Digest 2018

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, March 24, 2019

(This article was originally posted on August 14th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

Happy end of summer, everyone!

As the new school year approaches, it’s time to start thinking about service-learning. Check out this month’s digest for great examples for your own classrooms and after school programs.

  • In schools around the United States a teacher came from Ecuador to teach students about what he learned while in Ecuador. He started in education as a peace corps volunteer in southeastern Ecuador. Part of bringing what he learned to the United States, was making the learning relevant and purposeful. He goal was to make schools more about purpose than test scores and letter grades.

https://thelensnola.org/2018/08/13/how-about-creating-schools-with-more-purpose-than-test-scores-and-letter-grades/

  • Students and staff from Ngee Ann Polytechnic are raising funds for villagers hit by the recent series of earthquakes in Lombok, Indonesia. Almost $20,000 has been collected from campus donation drives which started 8/6/18. They plan to use the money to rebuild damaged infrastructure using quake resistant material, and to develop programs to help the affected communities. For NP students and staff, the cause is especially close to their hearts because some have been traveling regularly to villages in northern and eastern Lombok, to work with the local communities.

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/polytechnic-raising-funds-to-help-rebuild-villages

  • This article is about a woman, Emily Fitzgerald who visits a school in Silver City. Year 9 MLC school students going to Brooklyn Hill stay in cabins, shop, cook, clean, and do everything themselves. It’s a very different kind of school environment and Emily Fitzgerald is there to experience life through a different lens. She spent two weeks at a school far away from a traditional school. Instead she was at a school with no bells, no assessments, and no homework.

https://www.smh.com.au/education/no-bells-assessments-or-homework–broken-hill-beckons-20180801-h13fuv.html

  • In Camden, a hot sauce is helping young urban entrepreneurs fight poverty. Last fall, a half dozen teenagers from southern New Jersey city of Camden brought hot peppers they that they had grown in an urban garden to a rental industrial kitchen. Putting on latex gloves, they deseeded and chopped the chilies before adding them to salt and vinegar. A Few days later they processed and bottled the product into their own brand of hot sauce. The group is part of a teen focused entrepreneurial program called eco interns, offered by the Camden-area center for environmental transformation (CFET).

https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-07-30/camden-hot-sauce-helping-young-urban-entrepreneurs-fight-poverty

  • Waukegan High School adds service learning requirement for graduation. This year’s new freshman will be the first class to have to meet a new service learning requirement in order to graduate. Unlike most service learning requirements centered on a certain number of hours, Waukegan High School students will have to complete four projects over the course of their school years, said Waukegan co-principal Terry Ehiorobo. Terry Ehiorobo says that service learning is to be designed differently than community service. The students will be able to pretty much choose any service project that they want to do.
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/news/ct-lns-waukegan-high-school-service-learning-st-0728-story.html

Tags:  civic engagement  international service  service-learning  youth voice 

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Celebrate Earth Day with Service-Learning

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 22nd, 2015 on nylc.org.)

Today is Earth Day: a celebration of the beauty of our planet and a day to promote awareness and demonstrate support for environmental protection. #EarthDay can be a great opportunity to incorporate environmental curriculum and topics into service-learning projects in your community. It can also provide a chance for mentors and participants to get closer to the environment they live in – and to learn more about how they can not only preserve their environment, but help it to thrive. Getting out into your surroundings, caring for your planet, and making a measurable difference for the quality of the environment goes hand-in-hand with service-learning, which is founded on linking academically-rigorous content with addressing genuine community needs.



In the Generator School Network there are many resources to help facilitate and bolster your Earth Day service-learning projects. “A Kids’ Guide to Climate Change & Global Warming: How To Take Action!” deftly combines educational statistics and intellectual exercises with service-learning best practices and methodologies – like the IPARD (Investigation and Inquiry, Planning and Preparation, Action, Reflection, Demonstration) method – to build a framework for creating a high-quality service-learning project based on Earth Day’s goals. Be sure to join the GSN for access to hundreds of service-learning resources, discussion spaces for peer review and project improvement, and a user-driven project planning tool designed to ensure high-quality practice.

In the Generator School Network there are many resources to help facilitate and bolster your Earth Day service-learning projects. “A Kids’ Guide to Climate Change & Global Warming: How To Take Action!” deftly combines educational statistics and intellectual exercises with service-learning best practices and methodologies – like the IPARD (Investigation and Inquiry, Planning and Preparation, Action, Reflection, Demonstration) method – to build a framework for creating a high-quality service-learning project based on Earth Day’s goals. Be sure to join the GSN for access to hundreds of service-learning resources, discussion spaces for peer review and project improvement, and a user-driven project planning tool designed to ensure high-quality practice.

We are proud to support Earth Day. Share your projects, ideas, and thoughts on social media with #EarthDay to protect our planet.

Tags:  environment  Generator School Network  service-learning 

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Meet the #YAC: Danasia Eubanks

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 16th, 2015 on nylc.org.)

Danasia Eubanks, an incoming freshman at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina, is a young person dedicated to service, service-learning, and community-building. As one of two members returning from the 2013-2014 #YAC cohort, Danasia has valuable insights to bring to the new group and radiates a strong commitment to service.

Danasia has served as President of the Guilford County Schools’ Service-Learning Youth Council, a body of students whose mission is to lead service-learning projects in their schools and communities, to provide an education on how to conduct high-quality service-learning, and to collaborate with service-learning ambassadors from other schools around the GCS network. “I am determined to contribute to changing lives and making a positive impact on others,” said Danasia. In this spirit, Danasia currently sits on the National Board of Directors of the National Youth Leadership Council and will serve in this capacity for three years. Other positions of service Danasia has held include Secretary of her school’s Project Ignition teen driver safety program and a volunteer at Liberty Hospice.

At More Powerful Together, the 26th Annual National Service-Learning Conference, Danasia co-presented Let’s Get Smart. Youth Solutions to the Achievement Gap® Through Service-Learning: Part I, a workshop to educate about and inspire youth to address the Achievement Gap and Educational Inequity in their own communities. Her willingness to take a position of leadership is something she attributes to her experience with the #YAC, “My goal last year was to get out of my shell and I honestly feel like I accomplished that but my goal over the next two years is to become as involved as possible to help NYLC make a bigger impact in the world. I want to focus on using my voice as much as possible,” said Danasia.

Becoming a strong, confident leader is a hallmark of experience on the #YAC – and Danasia is no exception.

Learn more about the Youth Advisory Council.

Tags:  blog 

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A Week in Service-Learning

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 16th, 2015 on nylc.org.)

The 26th Annual National Service-Learning Conference, More Powerful Together, wrapped up Saturday, April 11, with a day of service around the Washington D.C. area. Groups spread across the district (and in neighboring Maryland) to give back to their host community and pay the spirit of service forward.

Whether maintaining the district’s beautiful green spaces by picking up trash and pulling weeds, or helping neighbors by collecting food, gifts, and letters for those who need them most, hundreds of conference attendees performed an estimated 1600 hours of community service Saturday afternoon. It was a powerful end to a conference that highlighted all that we can do together.

For a recap of the entire conference, visit the blog entries for Thursday, and Friday.

The conference also attracted some special attention. Jane Goodall sent a message along to her good friend, McClellan Hall, who was honored at Friday’s awards luncheon with the Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award.

On Thursday, attendees were greeted by Kevin Bacon, whose organization, SixDegrees.org, has partnered with Youth4Education, a campaign to end education inequity. Learn more about Youth4Education here.

Hear directly from attendees by searching the hashtag, #Youth4Ed, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’ll see you at next year’s conference!

Tags:  blog 

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More Powerful Together

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 11th, 2015 on nylc.org.)

On the third day of #MPT15, attendees filled the conference space with expertise, ideas, and opportunities through a series of concurrent workshops. These learning sessions have always been the heart of the conference — when participants come together to hear from one another and discover a place where we are all More Powerful Together.



Also yesterday was the awards luncheon, an event where the conference honored exemplary service-learning leaders. Awards winners included: Shira Woolf Cohen, G. Bernard Gill Urban Leadership Award; Joe Follman, Service-Learning Practitioner Leadership Award; McClellan Hall, Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award, who was recognized with a message from his good friend Dr. Jane Goodall; Cathryn Berger Kaye, Stellar Service-Learning Award; and Pima County Teen Court, Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award.

Project Ignition students were recognized by Mike Brown of NHTSA for their leadership in teen driver safety.

The evening events fed on the energy of the day and captured great opportunities for networking and fun. The Service-Learning Young Professionals Network Gathering welcomed a variety of service-learning professionals eager to build connections with others who are leading similar projects in their communities and to learn unique and compelling ways to improve their own work.

A District Wide Model Reception brought together innovative teachers and administrators who have partnered with NYLC to introduce service-learning across entire school districts. The Youth Room was buzzing with energy during an 80s Dance Party — ending a long day on a high note.

Stay tuned for a wrap-up of our Saturday Day of Service.

Tags:  blog 

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Mac Never Gives Up

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 10th, 2015 on nylc.org.)

Honoring a lifetime of service and a special message from Dr. Jane Goodall

Today the service-learning field honored the work of McClellan (Mac) Hall, the Founder and Executive Director of the National Indian Youth Leadership Project, with the Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award. Mac’s contribution to youth development and service-learning reaches back over three decades. As he stood on stage and received the award from his long-time friend, NYLC Founder Dr. James Kielsmeier, Mac shared stories of his work, his spiritual journey, his mentors (including Alec Dickson himself), and his family. Mac has transformed the lives of thousands of young people throughout his journey and in the process has made some wonderful friends including Dr. Jane Goodall. Dr. Goodall was unable to attend the award presentation but sent this message to share:



Congratulations Mac for all that you have done and continue to do for young people.

Tags:  blog 

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#MPT15 Forges Ahead

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 10th, 2015 on nylc.org.)

Day Two of More Powerful Together kicked off with impactful all-day Leadership Sessions that allowed for a deep dive into the topics important to service-learners. For the first time ever, the conference offered an “unconference” opportunity with Open Spaces — a session where attendees set the agenda to take charge of their learning experience.



The opening plenary session welcomed a variety of service leaders: Bill Basl, Director of AmeriCorps, Youth Leaders Jessie Oliveira and Allie Gould from Special Olympics, Jamienne Studley, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Under Secretary, and Stacey D. Stewart, U.S. President of #MPT15 co-host United World Way, all shared inspiring messages of hope, service, promise, and change.



At the plenary, the Youth Advisory Council launched an international campaign, Youth4Education, focused on promoting educational equity, challenging both youth and adults to take the #Youth4Ed pledge. The youth pledge emphasizes a commitment to the belief that all young people have the right to an equitable education and a promise to share their voice, their solutions, and their passions for positive change in the world. The adult pledge calls for all adults to commit to supporting their youth allies, to value youth of all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, physical abilities, sexual orientations, religions, and socioeconomic statuses, and to encourage youth to take an active role in the world today.



Youth4Education is a youth-driven mission to inspire the leader in every young person to take charge of their own education, using service-learning as the means to bring change to their communities and beyond. Youth4Education taps into the ingenuity of young people, much the same as the National Service-Learning Conference does, but with a singular focus to end education inequity around the world.

Not too bad for one day. Stay tuned for tomorrow.

Tags:  blog 

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The man. The myth. The Bacon.

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 9th, 2015 on nylc.org.)


NYLC is proud to announce Youth4Education, a youth-led, international campaign to end education inequity. SixDegrees.org has become a partner of #Youth4Ed to help make meaningful change in the educations — and lives — of young people around the world.

If you haven’t already, check out the video above from the one and only Kevin Bacon. SixDegrees.org is social networking with a social conscience, and we’re thrilled to call them a partner in ending education inequity.

Visit Youth4Education.org to learn more and take the #Youth4Ed pledge.

Mmm… Bacon.

Tags:  blog 

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