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#MPT15 Forges Ahead

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 10th, 2015 on

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.

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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 is proud to announce Youth4Education, a youth-led, international campaign to end education inequity. 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. is social networking with a social conscience, and we’re thrilled to call them a partner in ending education inequity.

Visit to learn more and take the #Youth4Ed pledge.

Mmm… Bacon.

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NYLC Launches International Youth4Education Campaign

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 9th, 2015 on

#Youth4Ed Campaign Works to End Educational Inequity

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Youth Leadership Council®, a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minn., is pleased to announce Youth4Education, a youth-driven, international campaign to end educational inequity. #Youth4Ed works to raise awareness about the Achievement Gap – a disparity of educational access between groups separated by ethnicity, race, gender, and socioeconomic status – and to advocate for young people to take an active role in their education, utilizing service-learning as the means to deliver change in their community and beyond.

“Educational equity is important because when students do not have equal access to top-quality education it is like asking all students to finish a race at the same time though some begin a mile behind others,” said Sarah Gunderson, a member of the National Youth Leadership Council’s Youth Advisory Council.

In the United States alone, 1.2 million youth will drop out of school this year. That is one dropout every twenty-six seconds. Their chances of living a life in poverty will more than double when they make the decision to drop out. With generous support from State Farm®, Youth4Education provides a platform for every young person to share their ideas, their passion, and their commitment to educational equity. As the primary stakeholders in the quality of their own education, it is time to give students a voice in it.

“Youth voice can inspire our generation to become active players in their own lives,” said Youth Advisory Council Member Isaiah Lewis. “It transforms inaction into action, and inspires our generation to be active in their communities and schools when they feel they are capable of affecting change.”

Learn more and take the pledge at Support the right for all young people to have access to an equitable education.

Share your stories and your inspiration on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the #Youth4Ed hashtag.


At the National Youth Leadership Council, we strive for a world where all young people are valued and called on to lead. With passion, creativity, and ingenuity, young people can address world issues while strengthening academic and learning outcomes through service-learning. To that end, we provide programs and services that develop young leaders, support educators, and advance the field of service-learning. Visit our site to learn more about NYLC and service-learning.

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Service-Learning Global

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 9th, 2015 on

Day one of More Powerful Together, the 26th Annual National Service-Learning Conference, welcomed attendees yesterday from across the nation and around the world, on stages national and international at Capitol Hill and the Service-Learning World Forum.

Intrepid service-learners embarked on Capitol Hill to meet with staff from both the House of Representatives and Senate. Telling of their success stories, youth reported on the impact service-learning has made in their own education, as well as among their peers, schools, and communities. Adult allies let the young people take the lead, as students provided congresspersons and senators with lists of legislation to support service-learning, and future opportunities for members to connect back with the youth.

The Service-Learning World Forum welcomed international leaders to Washington, D.C. to share about the work they do in their home countries. Shaun Verma, a member of the Youth Advisory Council, presented on how to expand projects to an international level and how to build fruitful partnerships by sharing his own experiences running his own nonprofit, MDJunior.

A host of nations were represented, including Jordan, Russia, Singapore, and Qatar. The World Forum emphasized a rapidly globalizing planet. The ideas talked about in this space reflect an increasingly interconnected global community, and demonstrate the transcendental qualities of service-learning and community building at-large. Service-learning has an innate ability to cross cultures, and NYLC keeps on the cutting-edge of that front.

In the evening, Shinnyo-En sponsored an International Welcome Reception, which offered the opportunity for networking and for attendees of all types to launch #MPT15 with an inspired and global spirit, and a feeling of camaraderie founded on the common goal to Serve. Learn. Change the world.®

Follow us here as well as on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all that #MPT15 has in store.

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Load That Truck!

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 2nd, 2015 on

Today was a beautiful sunny day in Minnesota. Perfect for loading the truck with all our supplies for More Powerful Together, the 26th Annual National Service-Learning Conference. Check out what it takes to put this event together!

Elizabeth, Jason, and Alyssa make last minute preparations.

Luke, Arway, Ah, and Mohammed do some heavy lifting.

Everyone gets in on the action.

The smiling faces mean the truck is loaded and headed to D.C. We can’t wait to see you all there!

Tags:  National Service-Learning Conference 

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NYLC Honors Young Leader with Evan Dalgaard Leadership Award

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 1st, 2015 on

At More Powerful Together, the 26th Annual National Service-Learning Conference®, the National Youth Leadership Council will be awarding the inaugural Evan Dalgaard Leadership Award, a recognition forged in the memory of former Youth Advisory Council Member Evan Dalgaard, who was tragically lost in a car crash in April of 2008. This award is given to young, passionate leaders committed to social justice and equality, endeavors Evan strove to address with spirit and integrity.

“Change the world one step at a time, but leave big footprints behind” is an idea that Evan devoted himself to. The Evan Dalgaard Leadership Award honors that devotion.

On Friday, April 10, at the Awards Luncheon and Plenary, Carolina Sosa will be presented the Evan Dalgaard Leadership Award. Carolina hails from Centreville, Virginia, and is a senior at Westfield High School. In an effort to address the educational inequity Carolina recognized within her community, she started her own Scholar Society, a mentoring program for low-income and minority students that supported their short- and long-term goals for college and beyond.

“Challenging myself to be a leader has not only blessed me with so many opportunities, but has changed myself for the better. I have committed myself to helping others find the joys of leadership. I am a servant-leader,” said Sosa.

NYLC is thrilled to present the Evan Dalgaard Leadership award to Carolina Sosa, along with all the other National Service-Learning Award Winners at #MPT15.

Tags:  awards  events  National Service-Learning Conference  National Youth Leadership Council  youth leadership 

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Meet the #YAC: Sarah Gunderson

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on March 24th, 2015 on

Sarah Gunderson, a high school sophomore at Breck School in Golden Valley, MN, has a heart filled with the passion to serve, “spreading service-learning and helping others are the first activities that I’ve done that have truly meant something to me. Nothing has lit such a bright and sustaining spark inside of me like serving others.” She also has a deep-seated belief in the power of youth, “I know that together, the youth of today can do great things, and I’m honored to be doing great things with the YAC.”

Sarah’s volunteer and service experiences are broad. She serves on the Breck School Service Council, which advocates for and enacts initiatives centered on service-learning and works to better the Breck community at-large. She volunteered at PICA Headstart in Minneapolis, MN, working with young Spanish-speaking children to improve their English language skills as well as supporting the professional instructors in-house. In 2013, she spoke in front of thousands of youth at the 2013 We Day Minnesota about a Halloween food drive that provided for the hungry in her local community. These varied experiences have taught Sarah unique skills that she can bring to the YAC.

“I am not afraid to speak my opinion, but am able to do so in a respectful manner that conveys what I believe without putting down the ideas of others. I am also very comfortable speaking in front of people, be it a one-on-one conversation or one in front of 18,000 people.”

As a part of the YAC, Sarah desires “to take the forgotten and unheard opinions of youth and help find a way to turn them into something concrete.” She also is driven to continue the tradition of the YAC to study, examine, and address the Achievement Gap, to bolster opportunities for true educational equity. These opportunities, though they may begin on a local scale, Sarah sees a grander vision for.

“I think that the solutions that the YAC implement are not only important to local communities; a goal of mine is to help improve the lives of other locally and nationally.” Nuanced, thoughtful understandings of social challenges – both subtle and otherwise – are a hallmark of the passionate youth on the YAC; and Sarah is no exception.

Said Gunderson, “I am a passionate, dedicated, and persistent person. If a solution to a problem doesn’t seem apparent, I won’t rest until I have come up with something.”

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Minnesota Continues Its Support of Innovative Educational Strategy

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 22, 2019

(This article was originally posted on March 24th, 2015 on

The Minnesota service-learning bill SF597 has passed the Minnesota Senate State and Local Government Committee with author’s amendment and has been sent to the Education Finance Committee. This bill would integrate service-learning into Minnesota’s education system and establish an evidence-based service-learning grant program including the formation of a service-learning specialist at the Department of Education.

This action is another example of Minnesota’s commitment to service-learning as an innovative education strategy. The Minnesota Legislature first introduced service-learning in 1987 when it authorized school districts to levy an extra 50 cents per capita for community education-based youth development/youth service programs, including service-learning. Then in 1989, the first National Service-Learning Conference was convened by the National Youth Leadership Council with support from then Governor Rudy Perpich.

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s Minnesota sought to deepen service-learning practice at the school level through a Tri-State Initiative with Iowa and Wisconsin, the establishment of the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, and through a partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Learning In Deed, a national service-learning demonstration program to strengthen practice and policy at the district level. In 2008 the National Youth Leadership Council released the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice, which provides evidence-based standards and accompanying indicators.

Over the past three decades, service-learning has been a proven strategy to engage students in their learning. In 2006, a national representative survey was conducted by Harris Research, drawing from a sample of 3,123 young adults ages 18-28. These young adults were asked questions about their current level of educational achievement and investment in the community through volunteering, voting, donations to nonprofits, and other indicators of positive engagement in the community. Not only school volunteering but also high quality service-learning was shown to have a statistically significant impact on engagement in the community later in life. In the 2008 Engaged for Success, Civic Enterprises reported key findings that revealed that 83 percent of all students said they would enroll in service-learning if their school offered it and 65 percent of all students found the idea of service-learning appealing.

Just last year at the 25th Annual National Service-Learning Conference, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan showed his support for service-learning stating, “I am passionate about service. I am passionate about service-learning. I started working for the Chicago Public Schools back about 15 years ago; literally my first job was to put in place the service-learning requirement for the district. I worry a lot about our dropout rate. I think so many of our young people today drop out not because school is so hard, but because one, it’s too easy, and two, they don’t see the relevance. If you can tie geometry to building something in the community, if you can tie an academic subject to helping to end homeless, to helping to challenge the AIDS crisis, to figuring out how to feed more people in the community, young people know why they are coming to school every single day. So it’s not either-or, it’s always both, and we have these false debates. So when real civic engagement, real civic learning, real academic content, when those things come together it is magical. Both for teachers and for students. They know why they’re in school, they know why they’re learning, and they know why they’re a leader at a very young age.”

Now the legislation has the opportunity to once again invest in service-learning as a proven strategy of academic engagement. Learn more about the Minnesota Service-Learning bill here.

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NYLC Offers New Youth Leadership Training at 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Forum Minneapolis

Posted By NYLC, Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Updated: Saturday, August 4, 2018

As many know, NYLC’s deepest roots are in camp experiences. Always challenging, often mosquito-ridden, and unfailingly life-changing, the National Youth Leadership Training has traveled from St. Louis, to the Cherokee Nation, to San Francisco.

This year, NYLC’s new Youth Leadership Training is coming to Minneapolis’ Augsburg University, Sept. 14-15  and is embedded with an exciting partner: the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. Now, not only do participants get to explore their own identities and leadership skills, but they also get to hear from world leaders recognized for peace-building.

NYLC’s training is designed for young people entering grades 7-12 in the fall, both existing and potential youth leaders are invited to attend in partnership with an adult ally. It’s a great way to kick off a year of civic engagement, student leadership, and/or youth voice — as youths with similar interests learn from one another in the context of a much larger event — the only of its sort outside of the Nobel Peace Prize’s home base in Oslo, Norway.

In this new training, young people will function as a cohort, spending 75% of their time together in hands-on learning through simulations on the intersectionality of race, class, ethnicity, and geography, explorations of personal leadership styles and cultural backgrounds, and action-planning for assessments leading to addressing community needs.

They’ll share in the daily general sessions with the larger audience, hearing from inspiring leaders ranging from those who have worked to bring peace to Colombia after the world’s longest civil war, to those who are working for nuclear disarmament (I-CAN, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize laureate).

Meanwhile, their adult allies will attend other sessions offered through the Forum, learning community- and peace-building strategies through workshop offerings, and rejoining their students at the end of each day for reflection and planning.

It’s a new take on a proven strategy. Register today to join us this fall for an inspiring time in the Twin Cities!


Two-day leadership training including access to Nobel Peace Prize laureates and selected world leaders.

Two-day access to Nobel Peace Prize Forum (discount of more than $30 off general admission), plus two training sessions with youth teams, and the opportunity to apply for a service-learning grant. All youths must be accompanied by an adult.

Tags:  civic engagement  community action  featured  National Youth Leadership Training  peace building  service-learning  youth development  youth leadership  youth voice 

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The Future of Democracy and the Role of Young People

Posted By NYLC, Thursday, June 28, 2018
Updated: Saturday, August 4, 2018

By Amy Meuers, CEO

At NYLC, we envision a world where all young people become civically informed and engaged global citizens. We work with youths and educators, both in and out of school, to integrate service-learning as a strategy to meet learning objectives, including citizenship and 21stcentury skills, in order to inspire all young people to change the world.

As we celebrate America’s independence this 4th of July, it is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the state of civic engagement in our country. Young people have taken center stage this past year as engaged citizens through demonstration on issues such as gun control, education equity, mental health, and more. They have shown both courage and tenaciousness that demands respect from our leaders and from each of us.

Despite current civic actions by young people, as a nation our democracy is weakening. A new report released by the Democracy Project does not shed a positive light on the state of our Union. According to the report released on June 26, 2018:

Democracy is facing its most significant challenge of recent years. Worldwide, the uneven distribution of economic progress and unrelenting pace of change have tested the capacity of democratic institutions and their leaders to deliver. At the same time, authoritarian regimes and populist national movements have seized the opportunity to undermine democracy and the example of freedom it represents.

The phenomenon has not spared the United States, where confidence in our governing institutions has been weakening over many years and key pillars of our democracy, including the rule of law and freedom of the press, are under strain. These trends have raised questions about whether the public has begun to lose faith in basic democratic concepts and what can be done to strengthen popular support.

The report finds that 55 percent of respondents believe our democracy is weak and 68 percent believe it is getting weaker. This lack of faith in our government and the continuous attacks on media – historically the watchdogs of government – does not bode well for future generations.

Leaders from across the world have often heralded young people as the instigators of positive change in government. In a 2012 address at the National Service-Learning Conference in Minneapolis, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “Young people – it was them exclusively organizing youth for change. They helped bring about change on the viciousness of apartheid.”

I recently had the opportunity to hear from the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize winner and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. One of his quotes continues to inspire me and the work of NYLC: “No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline.”

As we celebrate the birth of our nation, perhaps we can also celebrate that young people are engaging as active, informed citizens. Whether you agree with their platform or not, we should all be inspired by their commitment to participate in the democratic process and follow suit.

This commitment to civic engagement by young people gives me hope that the state of democracy in our country will improve. We must all commit to support and strengthen the state of civic learning for all our children. Our freedom, our democracy, depends on it.

Happy Independence Day, America.

Read the full report from the Democracy Project

Tags:  civic engagement  civics  democracy  featured  youth voice 

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