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Announcing 2018 Service-Learning Award Winners

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on January 29th, 2018 on

NYLC staff have been pouring over heartfelt stories of service-learning greatness in a quest to name the 2018 Service-Learning Award recipients. The stories of insight, persistence, listening closely to community members, and pulling together to address local and global needs make us feel that all the nominees are worthy of these awards — and more.

So, (drumroll) here are the 2018 award-winners. For her long-term commitment to pre-service teachers at Concordia College and her ability to involve all ages in addressing critical needs while integrating a plethora of academic skills, the Alec Dickson Servant Leader award goes to education professor Barb Witteman. Though Witteman says, “Change can begin with one person,” she clearly believes in involving far more.

Katrina Weimholt, Assistant Director of the Center for Civic Engagement, has had a similar long-term dedication to helping service-learning grow through civic engagement at Northwestern University, after founding the Civic Education Project more than 20 years ago. Colleague Simeon Bodsky of Johns Hopkins University says that her work illustrates that “intellectual rigor can and should underpin service as mutually reinforcing activities,” for which she will receive the Service-Learning Practitioner Award.

And, for their innovation and persistence in launching not only a new STEM curriculum, but also a training for teachers and teens with limited engineering experience, the Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award goes to a group of students led by Cassandra Ivie and Hala Louvier from Entheos Academy in Kearns, Utah. Their curriculum features chemical, mechanical, civil, electrical and software engineering approaches and culminates in a project that uses these approaches to build an “incredible” Rube Goldberg-like machine.

NYLC would like to thank UPS for their support of the National Service-Learning Awards. Join us to hear more about their stories at Justice in Action, the 2018 National Service-Learning Conference March 11-13 in St. Paul, Minn.

Tags:  awards  Center for Civic Engagement  Concordia College  Entheos Academy  service-learning  UPS 

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Reflecting on 2017

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on January 16th, 2018 on

2017 was a year filled with contention in our government, communities, streets, and schools. We saw mass destruction when three monster hurricanes ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands within a four-week span and when a lone shooter rained gunfire down upon concert-goers in Las Vegas, Nevada.

2017 was also a year that inspired action and global change. The #MeToo movement encouraged people everywhere to stand up against harassment and injustice, while students across the nation protested everything from race to the President’s decision on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. It was a year when many young people found their voices and the courage to stand up for something they believed in. It was a year when people, both young and old, worked side-by-side to make positive contributions to the world.

At NYLC in 2017, we strove to meet our mission by growing our programs and services that develop young people as civically informed and engaged global citizens. Over the course of the year, we provided support to 15,600 people directly, impacting an estimated 550,000 youth indirectly, reaching an audience of more than three million people across the country and around the world.

Over the course of the year, we worked to instill the skills and knowledge needed so that all young people can make positive contributions to their communities and to the world. We trained teachers and out-of-school time practitioners on how to engage differently with young people, and we trained young people to be active change-makers in their communities. Our Youth Advisory Council directly engaged more than 71,000 young people through Youth4Education, a program that inspires young people to take action on issues of education equity.

We know that doing what is right is not always easy, but it is what is needed. Service-learning is not easy, but when implemented with quality it provides students with the opportunity to develop their moral character and a life-long commitment to serve. It connects communities to classrooms, and challenges students to act on issues that matter to them. It meets academic content standards and it develops civically informed and engaged global citizens. Service-learning helps students do what is right, step out of their comfort zones, and make deep-rooted changes in themselves. It also allows them to change the world.

We hope that 2017 ignited your passion to make positive change and to support young people in becoming active life-long citizens. We are excited to work with you in 2018 to Serve. Learn. Change the world.™

Tags:  civic education  National Youth Leadership Council  service-learning  youth development 

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Service-Learning January Digest 2018

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on January 5th, 2018 on

Happy New Year! While the cold may be settling in all over the country, the service-learning community is keeping warm with all of their projects. Here are some great programs that we’ve heard about over the past month:

• Since 2011, Weaver and Concerned Citizens of Aiken/Atlanta Now (WeCCAAN) has organized intergenerational service-learning trips for 34 youths and 20 adults. Participants are given the opportunity to visit new cities in the U.S. where they volunteer and learn about culture, community, and each other. >>Full Article
• Dr. Edina Haslauer, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, is teaching an Ethnic and Gender Equity in Education course which aims to promote a better understanding of cultural diversity in the next generation of teachers. Students learn about how cultural differences create the biases seen in society today, and apply this newfound knowledge to their volunteer work with local after-school programs or new immigrants in the community. >>Full Article
• The Builders Club at Roland-Story Middle School in Roland, Iowa collected toys for their “Blessings for Blank” community service project. The toys were given to children who had to celebrate the holidays at Blank Hospital. Students at Roland-Story Middle School develop leadership skills by running the Builders Club and organizing and participating in service projects in the community. >>Full Article

Did we miss something? Have you or someone you know embarked on a service-learning/civic engagement project that warrants exposure? Drop us a line at

Tags:  monthly digest  service-learning 

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Service-Learning November Digest

Posted By NYLC, Friday, April 5, 2019

(This article was originally posted on November 27th, 2018 on

Service-learning is happening in classrooms and Afterschool programs across the country and around the world. Check out some of the great happenings from the past month.

  • A service learning class at Greenwood Community High School and a student group that helps elementary and middle school students have fanned out to the homes of senior citizens in their community and done large yard and upkeep projects to help them prepare their homes for the winter.  Read more
  • The RFH Inside Out Project is part of a global project created by JR, a French graffiti artist, and based on his large-scale street photos. According to the Inside Out website, the project, started in 2011, encourages the sharing of stories and messages through portraits, transforming personal identity into public works of art. Read more
  • Earlier this week, King School’s grade 3 classes visited the Prospector Theater, a non-profit providing meaningful employment to adults with disabilities through the operation of a movie theater in Ridgefield, CT.   “As educators, we are always helping our students understand how we all have strengths that may be different from one another and you need to embrace you! No person is alike. Visiting the Prospector helped to further solidify those ideas for our students,” remarked third grade teacher, Rebecca Pambianchi. Read more
  • The Old Rochester Regional High School Community Service Learning Club would like to extend a huge thank you for all of the support shown for its kick-off project of SOCKTOBER!  With all of the generosity the group was not only able to reach its goal of 200 pairs, but more than doubled its goal. The group collected 450 pairs of socks – all to benefit the Women’s Center of New Bedford. Read more

Got a program or project you want to share? Send us an email at!

Tags:  service-learning 

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Join the Youth Advisory Council

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on December 27, 2019 on

For 35 years, the National Youth Leadership Council has tapped into the passion, creativity, and ingenuity of all young people to make meaningful change happen. Our Youth Advisory Council is a team of servant-leaders dedicated to promoting youth leadership, service-learning, and education equity. By providing valuable perspectives to inform NYLC programming, including Teen Driver Safety, Education Equity, and Youth Leadership, YAC members contribute to the success of NYLC in reaching our mission to create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world with young people, their schools, and their communities through service-learning.

YAC work alongside NYLC staff at the National Service-Learning Conference® and present various youth leadership workshops and trainings across the country. As a Youth Advisory Council member, YAC have an opportunity to use their talents and strengths to help NYLC develop young leaders. Together, we are leading the way to address real world issues with all young people, inspiring them to Serve. Learn. Change the world.®

Join the next generation of youth leaders by submitting your application by January 26, 2019!

Learn more and apply today!

Tags:  education equity  teen driver safety  Youth Advisory Council  youth leadership  youth leadership development  youth voice 

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Youth Voice Reigns in 2018

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019
Updated: Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on December 28th, 2018 on

The end of the year is a wonderful time to look back—to reflect on all that has happened.

In 2018, young people across our nation stood together to address an issue that adults have swept under the rug for years — gun control. They found their voice, their passion, and took action. In February, the students of Parkland, Florida inspired young people across the nation to stand up and take action on gun violence. On March 24, for 17 minutes, at 10 a.m. across every time zone, students protested Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.  Young people found their voice and together, they told the world that change is needed.

It is young people’s passion and commitment to making the world a better place that has inspired the work of NYLC for the past 35 years. When students engage in service-learning they gain academic knowledge, interpersonal skills, self-confidence, and civic knowledge and skills. They learn they have the power to make a positive change in the world by working with people with diverse perspectives. Young people gain a better understanding of themselves as they explore and develop ways to contribute to their communities. They develop self-confidence and an enhanced commitment to public service.

In 2018, young people showed the courage and tenacity to demand respect from our leaders and from each of us. They showed us all that they are ready and willing to Serve. Learn. Change the World.®

Tags:  civic action  civic engagement  civics  learning  service  service-learning  student engagement  youth leadership  youth voice 

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“National Service should become the common expectation and common experience of all Americans.” Senator Harris Wofford (1926-2019)

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on March 1, 2019 on

By:  James C. Kielsmeier, Ph.D., NYLC Founder/ CEO (Ret), and Senior Scholar

On Saturday, March 2, Harris Wofford will be honored at a Memorial Service at Howard University in Washington, D.C., his law school alma mater.  Harris died January 21, the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Harris Wofford will be remembered for his pivotal leadership in the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s and for the past 60 years, as America’s most important champion of nonmilitary national service and volunteerism. We have Harris to thank for key leadership of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy presidential campaign and Administration. Then without wavering, Wofford continued to build the intellectual, political and organizational leadership foundations for the modern nonmilitary national and community service movement we know today.

In 1979 Harris acknowledged an earlier proposal for the Peace Corps by US Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) in his 1986 biography (Of Kennedys and Kings, 1980) well before JFK embraced the concept. This generosity of sharing credit to advance a greater good distinguishes Harris as a rarity among modern political leaders and helps explain the success of the service movement.

I met Harris in 1989 at the National Governor’s Association annual meeting in Chicago when I was part of Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich’s delegation charged with exploring how Minnesota could grow volunteer service and service-learning. Harris represented Pennsylvania at the Chicago meetings and shared with me his national vision for civic service.  His buoyant personality and shared insights borne of decades of public policy debate and scholarship captured my attention and began three decades of friendship and collaboration.

Harris was both consistent and persistent. In his brief tenure in the US Senate from Pennsylvania (1991-94) he created legislation identifying the Martin Luther King Holiday as a  Day of Service. After being defeated for reelection, Harris was appointed by President Clinton to become CEO of the embattled Corporation for National and Community Service / AmeriCorps. Harris quickly built bridges to sympathetic Republican lawmakers including Dave Durenberger (R-MN), a key Republican national service proponent.

Harris Wofford believed that service should be introduced in schools as an effective “on ramp” to full time National Service/AmeriCorps. Service-learning was already well established in many state K-12 and higher education systems across the country in 1995. That year, National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) worked closely with Harris and the Corporation for National and Community Service and Department of Education Secretary Richard Riley to convene over 500 delegates from 30 states to create a set of core principles linking service-learning with school reform.  Again, it was Harris Wofford who was able to build the base of political leadership that allowed National Service to extend beyond its usual boundaries, in this case into K-12 education.

In 2006 Harris was the first recipient of the William James National Service Lifetime Achievement Award collectively presented by a group of twelve national service organizations and President Clinton. Harris barely took a breath before challenging the crowd in Philadelphia to do more – much more to take service further! That’s our charge today. Thank you, Harris, for charting the course and leading!

In Minnesota we continue to feel the impact of Harris Wofford’s vision through the efforts of many allied service groups. Below is a partial list of supportive organizations which collectively along with donors have made Minnesota among the top three volunteer participation states in the nation. Of special encouragement this year has been the interest of Minnesota Governor Tim Walz in volunteer service and service-learning. Like Harris Wofford, Governor knows service and service-learning as a practitioner. He’s been the top non commissioned officer in the Minnesota National Guard and used service-learning practices as a classroom teacher prior to becoming Governor.

The following is a representative sampling of Minnesota organizations engaged in volunteer service:

  • ServeMinnesota  is the state coordinator for full time AmeriCorps positions and is currently hiring.
  • The Minnesota Senior Corps is part of AmeriCorps and offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities for older people statewide.
  • Lead advocate for Minnesota Higher Education Service-learning is Minnesota Campus Compact
  • National Youth Leadership Council www.nylca non profit organization started at the University of Minnesota in 1983 and continues to primarily support research and technical assistance for K-12 service-learning.
  • The Center for School Change is an advocacy, policy and training hub for service-learning and positive youth development with a significant track record.
  • Youthprise, a nonprofit takes on issues of equity and justice head on often using a service-learning approach.
  • Of course, the number of faith-based and civic organizations with opportunities for service is extensive. is a good place to start looking.

At this writing we have learned that the Federal funding base for National Service in Minnesota and nationally is threatened with extinction by the Trump Administration.

More information to follow next week on how proponents can respond.

Tags:  community service  featured  national service  service  service-learning  volunteerism 

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February Service-Learning Digest 2019

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on March 13th, 2019 on

What happens when service-learning is part of classroom instruction? Check out a few shining examples of excellence in this month’s digest.


UTD is joining the nationally growing trend of service learning in the classroom. This semester, the university is offering 10 classes centered around service.

In 2017, UTD received $1 million through the University of Texas System to incorporate community engagement into the curriculum. Since then, the school has offered a variety of classes, from helping the homeless youth population to supporting students who identify as parents, to reach this goal.

Read more

SPHS Juniors Connect With Community For Service Learning Projects

Throughout February, the 400-person junior class at Severna Park High School traveled to three elementary schools to complete their service learning project.

The project was to connect with students at Park, Brooklyn Park and Hebron Harman elementary schools and write books for their buddies.

“It is probably one of the most meaningful things that I get to be part of at Severna Park,” said Valerie Earhart, an English teacher at SPHS.

Read more

Learn 2 Love group makes sandwiches for 363 Sandwich Project

The Somerset Elementary Learn 2 Love service learning group recently made 610 sandwiches for the 363 Sandwich Project.

Read more

Fort Service Learning Academy honors Columbus community members in celebration of Black History Month

On the last day of Black History Month, 10 community members were honored by Fort Service Learning Magnet Academy in Columbus.

News Leader 9 Barbara Gauthier was among the honorees.

“Everybody should be celebrated, not just this one month, but all months,” said Crystal Simonton, theater arts director. “Everybody should be celebrated in general.”

Read more

Service Learning earns state award

Only ten schools in state recognized for their service

Staying busy is nothing new for the dedicated Jefferson County High School Service Learning teacher Lani O’Connor, who matches the energy and passion of her students as they work together.

Read more

New Service Learning Classes Build Community Connections

In one of the newest University of Texas at Dallas classes, students are helping immigrant high schoolers with English. Another class is talking to fifth- and sixth-grade girls about social media and bullying. And still another is working with homeless teens in Dallas.

These classes are part of the University’s growing community-based service learning program, which gives students the opportunity to explore new topics while serving as teachers and mentors in the community.

Read more


Got a story you want to share? Send it to

Tags:  civic action  civic engagement  community engagement  featured  service-learning  volunteerism  youth leadership 

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Beyond the Walls of the Classroom

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on January 21st, 2019 on

By: Joy Mazur 

A senior year English class is usually filled with college essay writing, novel reading, and research practice. However, students in the Morris Hills Regional District’s new Service-Learning course are developing their college readiness in a different way–through investigating genuine community needs and applying their academic knowledge and skills to meet those needs.

Service-Learning teams at Morris Knolls are currently planning projects based on student-chosen topics, focused on raising awareness of veterans’ issues, the benefits of training your pet to be a therapy animal, advocacy and support for people experiencing homelessness, and fighting stigma associated with mental health issues. They have developed community partnerships within the school as well as with local organizations such as Creature Comfort Pet Therapy and Family Promise of Morris County. Morris Hills Service-Learning teams are designing and implementing a new way for students to choose tutors through a website they created, running after-school seminars and meetings at retirement homes to lessen the communication divide between generations, and organizing a clubs/sports fair for to help 8th grade students feel excited and more comfortable coming into their freshman year.  In addition to these ongoing projects, students will develop individual or small group projects during the second half of the school year.

“I have learned many things that I would’ve missed out on if I hadn’t taken Service-Learning. Unlike our other classes, it throws us into the world. I’m thankful that this course was added to Morris Knolls and that I am able to be a part of it.” – Senior Iara Vellaro 

The Service-Learning course is based on a framework developed by the National Youth Leadership Council, which follows the IPARD cycle: Investigation and Research, Planning and Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Demonstration. Students are expected to research and become experts in their field of concern, and determine community needs through interviewing stakeholders before beginning their planning phase in collaboration with a community partner. The Action phase may take place through direct service, indirect service, or advocacy. They must also create a sustainability plan, outlining how their project can be replicated or carried on in the future.

The students are the Project Managers, and hold leadership roles in Outreach, Budget, and Research. In order to be successful, they must collaborate, communicate, and problem-solve when things don’t go according to plan. I have seen them make great leaps in their confidence through taking on this responsibility.

In order to enroll in the course, which can fulfill the MHRD 12th grade English requirement due to its focus on research, writing, and communication skills, students apply during the winter of their Junior year. The application process includes a personal statement, recommendations from a school counselor and a teacher, and a group interview. Thirty-two students at Knolls and twenty-one students at Hills were accepted for Service Learning’s pilot year.

Morris Knolls Principal Ryan MacNaughton is happy with the new course so far. He has been interviewed as a stakeholder by several student teams during the Investigation phase of their projects, and says the students “have been a pleasure to work with. Ms. Mazur is doing some amazing work with our students and I am so pleased with the success of the program.” Morris Hills principal Todd Toriello agrees, adding that students “are learning first-hand the importance of giving back to one’s community. Through authentic learning experiences, students are exploring local community-identified needs as well as the historical and philosophical roots of service.”

Dominique Tornabe, Director of Development and Community Relations for Family Promise of Morris County, describes her time working with a team of Morris Knolls Service-Learning students as “incredibly impactful” and commented about the course, “In addition to teaching empathy and compassion, it develops the critical thinking and problem solving skills required for leadership in the 21st Century and beyond.” As Service-Learning student Luke Nienstadt observed, “The goals we are trying to achieve go way beyond the walls of the classroom.”

Tags:  college readiness  community engagement  english  featured  IPARD  research  service-learning 

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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Posted By NYLC, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

(This article was originally posted on March 27, 2018 on

“Love. Not hate. We want to graduate!”

We are students. We want change!”

“Tell me what democracy looks like? THIS is what democracy looks like!”

 Among those chanting these demands in St. Paul, Minn. this past Saturday, during the March for Our Lives, was eighth-grader Lindsey, along with two friends and approximately 20,000 others. She had just participated in “Justice in Action” — the National Service-Learning Conference — in St. Paul 10 days earlier. Below, she reflects on the march with questions her mother posed.

 Q: Tell us about the event you attended. 

A: It was a march against gun violence. . . Students and parents got together to protest gun violence and then heard some people talk about the how we can fix the gun violence in this country.

Q: What did you notice? What stood out for you?

A: There was a vibe there of kindness. We were all there to support the same cause.

How did it feel to be there?

Just being there made me feel like I was part of something amazing that I can tell my grandkids that I took part in and be proud of. I knew I was helping make a difference in our history.

Why did you go? Why was this important to you?

I went to this march because I don’t want to worry everyday if I’m going to be shot or if I come home and find out that my best friend is dead. I shouldn’t have to worry about that. No parent should have to worry about that, or lose their kid due to something that could be so simply fixed.

What did you learn? How are you changed by taking part in this event?

It was truly amazing seeing all those people there. I learned that together people can really make a difference. Going to this [march] has made me want to participate more to make sure that every other kid feels safe in school including me.

What will you do now? What are your next steps?

I would for sure go to another one in the future. I also plan to do the school walkout in April. I am ready for something to change.

As Lindsey’s mother said in her reflection on the event:Amongst so many memorable moments and displays of authentic youth leadership, something that stood out for me was one of the student speakers who closed with a quote from Angela Davis: ‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.’ While the fight for stronger gun laws will likely be a marathon rather than a sprint, I have no doubt that young people have the focus and persistence to see this through.”

Tags:  civic engagement  march for our lives  protest  reflection  service-learning  youth leadership  youth voice 

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