The Future of Service-Learning in the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse

The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse was a longstanding fixture for the service-learning field. With the best data, research, tools, and materials for service-learning, the Clearinghouse at servicelearning.org was a robust, federally-funded resource for anyone to use. Some of you may know where this is going.

That funding? It went away. And with it, so did nearly the whole of the Clearinghouse itself. NYLC knew what our friends in the field did, too: losing the Clearinghouse was unacceptable. So we set up a rescue mission.

The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse lives on. In the Generator School Network, a free website tool for service-learners, you can access thousands of Clearinghouse resources at gsn.nylc.org/clearinghouse. Not everything from the former Clearinghouse was able to be restored, a byproduct of those earlier funding cuts. But this iteration of the Clearinghouse has something special going for it: the future.

To keep the Clearinghouse strong, we’ve got to keep it current. That’s where you come in. As a friend in the field, you learn something new about service-learning every year just like we do. Many of you, like us, develop new toolkits, tip sheets – and let’s not forget the research! – year after year. By submitting your resources, you accomplish a few things.

  1. You reach a broad audience of service-learning professionals who visit the Clearinghouse.
  2. You help advance the field of service-learning by keeping the Clearinghouse on the cutting edge.
  3. You sustain momentum for the Clearinghouse library, which encourages more of our colleagues to submit their resources and, in turn, connects you with exactly the support you’ve been looking for from the service-learning field. This site is hosted by NYLC, but it’s owned by everyone.

Are you ready? Submit your resource here, or email gsn@nylc.org if you have additional questions. See you in the future.

Everybody’s Garden

At Edgewood Middle School in Mounds View, Minn., quality service-learning practice is alive and well. Launched today with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony was Everybody’s Garden Project, a district-wide organic gardening initiative that puts students at the center of operation. Everybody’s Garden Project is one of eleven sites across the Mounds View Public Schools District where students are using academic skills and knowledge to address genuine community needs. In this case, that need is hunger.

A large portion of the produce grown as part of Everybody’s Garden Project will go directly to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf to provide organic and healthy foods at a place where canned, pre-packaged, and high-sodium food is the norm. The project will foster in students a more intimate and active connection to hunger issues in their community, will provide an opportunity for all students (even as young as kindergartners) to volunteer and contribute to their communities, and will create a unified ground where students of all abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds may make a difference all in the same way.

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“With this program, students are bringing service, academic work, and community responsibility together,” said Greg Herder, the Service-Learning Coordinator at Edgewood. “The genesis of the project was a desire to have kids lead and dig into community issues.” In the future, the Service-Learning Department of Mounds View Public Schools Community Education, as partners with students all over the district, hope to expand West-Side school gardens to include available plots for community members usage and to establish a Edgewood Outdoor Education Complex – a place of gardens, forests, and outdoor classrooms – as a site for suburban Farmer’s Markets.

Meet the #YAC: Soua Thao

Soua Thao, a freshman at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, is the second of two returning members on the 2014-2016 #YAC cohort and a champion of service, service-learning, education equity, youth leadership, and community-building. “I am interested in serving another term on the YAC because I love working with youth and adults in my community. My career path is going in the same direction and I think that serving another term will help me in the long run, as I get closer to finding jobs in my career field. I am passionate about youth making these differences,” said Thao.

Soua is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Youth Studies, with a minor in Leadership, which perfectly reflects her history and projects her future. Soua served as a Group Assistant at Camp EMID (East Metro Integration District in St. Paul, Minn.) Youth Institute, where she facilitated workshops and activities for nearly 60 students throughout the duration of the event. For the past two years at the National Service-Learning Conference® Soua has represented NYLC in workshops, on the plenary stage, and on Capitol Hill in D.C., advocating for service-learning and the power of youth voice. “I love facilitating workshops and seeing how much people are excited or interested in the topics that we focus on,” said Soua. With Students Today Leaders Forever, a student-driven group whose mission is to reveal leadership abilities through service, relationships, and action, Soua planned service projects, mentored nearly 40 high school students throughout multiple-day service trips, and facilitated discussions and reflections around the entire experience.

Soua’s accolades include a 2014 Red Wagon Award from the Minnesota Alliance with Youth and the 2014 Violet Richardson Award from Soroptimist International – Twin Cities. “I really have a passion for youth leadership development and just doing the little things and seeing how the perspectives of both youth and adults change after such experiences really give me hope,” said Soua.

Learn more about the Youth Advisory Council.

More Powerful Together: A Photo Retrospective

Last month, youth and adults from around the world convened in Washington D.C. for More Powerful Together, the 26th Annual National Service-Learning Conference®. The event was packed full of professional development sessions, networking opportunities, service, and much more!

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The Service-Learning World Forum: Beyond Borders, Beyond Boundaries was a day-long session focused on tackling global issues through service-learning.

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Attendees filled the Washington Marriott Wardman Park with expertise, ideas, and opportunities through a series of concurrent workshops. These learning sessions have always been the heart of the National Service-Learning Conference — when passionate young leaders come together with their adult allies to learn from one another, a place is discovered where all are More Powerful Together.

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Attendees had the opportunity to hear from several outstanding speakers on the plenary stage. Allie Gould and Jessie Oliveira, members of the Special Olympics Youth Activation Committee, inspired the audience with a passionate message about promoting acceptance through friendship.

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The #MPTExpo gave attendees the opportunity to visit with exhibitors to learn about their organizations, and to enjoy food, entertainment, and all of the on-site service-learning projects.

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Youth attendees spent their evenings networking in the Youth Room. This year’s Youth Room featured an ’80s Dance Party, engaging icebreakers, and a pretty intense game of Rock, Paper, Scissors: Grand Champion.

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#MPT15 concluded with a Day of Service in the D.C. Community. Attendees volunteered their time at seven different sites, including the Capital Area Food Bank and Urban Garden.

Thank you to all of our attendees, speakers, sponsors, committee members, volunteers, exhibitors, and presenters for making More Powerful Together a success! Check out our Flickr page for a complete collection of #MPT15 photos.

Youth4Education Offers Life-Changing Week of Self-Discovery

Apply for a Youth4Education Lead Activist Grant!

Two of NYLC’s Youth Advisory Council members attended the National Youth Leadership Training in San Francisco, Calif. in the Summer of 2013. Throughout the eight days of NYLT they engaged in a variety of experiential learning activities that related to real-world experiences, like the Achievement Gap and issues of social justice. Now all have the opportunity to experience this life-changing leadership training through the Youth4Education Lead Activist Grant. This grant provides recipients with the training, tools, and resources to implement a service-learning action plan addressing issues of education inequity. Apply today and tackle tough issues like homelessness, hunger, gender disparity, bullying, or any of the other factors that lead to inequity in your community, and receive training that lasts a life-time. Still not convinced? Read on as Danasia Eubanks and Soua Thao share their NYLT experience.

danasiaNYLT is an experience that I will never forget and always cherish. I met so many amazing young leaders that I know will do great things in the lives of those around them. I believe that NYLT has truly helped me become a better person and leader in my community through all of the valuable leadership skills that I learned during camp, such as the importance of empathy and putting myself in other peoples’ shoes before I cast judgment. It taught me to value my own uniqueness and never be ashamed of who I am and what I have experienced in my past. I think that this camp was very impactful because a lot of youth who attended the camp never expected to leave with the knowledge and experiences that they gained over the course of that one week. I still reminisce on the feelings that I felt with my Morals and Ethics group as we completed our activities with so many barriers in the way and even when we hugged each other and cried when things got extremely overwhelming. I believe that other youth should attend NYLT because it is truly a life-changing event that will show and teach so much about life, relationships, and the world we all live in.

souaNYLT was one of the most life-changing camps I have ever experienced. It definitely helped me become a better leader in my everyday life because it helped me learn to be more aware of the things around me. I learned to think critically about the lives of others before making a judgment and to be more open-minded about where people come from. NYLT helped me see the world through an equity lens throughout the whole experience, but mostly during the Morals and Ethics simulation. We were put into real world situations that happen to people every day that we don’t think about, and my group experienced the worst. Within the simulation my group even experienced some negative outside world interaction. That was when I knew that I had to go back into my own community and continue to act on these social justice issues and challenges pertaining to the Achievement Gap. I think that other youth should experience NYLT, no matter where they are coming from. I think it is important to be aware about these issues in the community that you may not know about. NYLT will definitely change your life and help you become a better leader in your community and a champion of education equity.

We both highly recommend all youth apply for the Youth4Education Lead Activist Grant and attend this year’s National Youth Leadership Training! You will walk away with the ability to communicate and partner with people of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc., as well as the proper tools to create equitable change in your community. You’ll gain more insight about educational equity and become a Lead Activist for the Youth4Education Campaign to bring more awareness to the issues underlying educational inequity in your home communities! We hope to see you in July in Minnesota!

To learn more about Youth4Education and to apply for this life-changing opportunity, visit Youth4Education.org.

Update from Baltimore

A perspective from YAC member Shaun Verma.
Johns Hopkins 2017

BALTIMORE, MD – The stark images of the Baltimore Riots being released nationally on most news media show shootings, arrests, looting. Baltimore is shown literally up in flames and on campus we are told to stay off the streets. Battles of Baltimore, Baltimore Burning; the headlines on CNN and other national media paint a very different narrative from what is happening on the ground. What is said to be “massive protests taking over Baltimore as curfew approaches” is actually people uniting from many different communities, providing solidarity, cooperating, to create a better Baltimore city without police brutality and the unequal treatment of any race.

Last week, a black man was killed. Freddie Gray was chased down by police and his spine was broken at some point between the arrest and his police transport. The police department had been unbelievably opaque and has been pushing off further investigation and trial. The police were unresponsive in the first week of protests other than hardlining them with riot control. On Monday night, protests escalated into riots across Baltimore, the National Guard rolled in, and the last few days the rest of the nation has tuned in.

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Protests have been going on for the last week and a half, most of them peaceful. Protestors want justice for Freddie Gray, and most protestors are demanding that the policemen associated with the incident be charged for murder. Officials have already stated that the officers involved in Gray’s arrest did not give him timely medical care and did not put him in a seat belt when he was being transported in a police van, a violation of department policy. After the preliminary investigation, 6 policemen were suspended due to the incident. State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby will ultimately determine whether charges will be brought against any of the six suspended officers.

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Freddie Gray’s death is one in a long line of cases of police brutality in the city of Baltimore. However, many of these don’t make the news. The video taken, showing almost definitively that Freddie had been hurt, is what has spurred the movement taking place. New York, Boston, Detroit, and other cities across the world are uniting with Baltimore for justice for Freddie Gray.

The systematic killing of black lives across the country due to police brutality is unacceptable. However, in every thousand people there are the twenty or so that resort to violence, who take advantage of vulnerable situations. For those creating violence, I plead to tell them that this is not the answer. It truly does hurt to see people lash out and create violence, for it only recreates the violence that we wish to rid ourselves of. All lives matter, and that’s why we must provide solidarity, not resort to violence.

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I did manage to make it on front page of CNN the other day (my friends and I in the bottom of the frame)! As part of the Campus Connection Peaceful Protest, students from college campuses across Baltimore came together on Wednesday, April 29 to demand justice for Freddie Gray. We all play a part, and that’s why we all must step up.

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Please everyone stay safe, but also stay informed! Always check your sources. The news on Baltimore can be more fictional than The Wire sometimes.

This is an issue that affects all of us. Youth are in a unique position where they can have their voices heard, and that’s why we all have the responsibility to step up for Freddie Gray.

Shaun Verma, JHU ’17
#Bmorestrong

News Update Thursday – Investigation Decision
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-gray-investigation-completed-20150430-story.html

Video of Freddie Gray’s Death:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi_vjr25WYk

About the Culture of Police Brutality in Baltimore:
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-brutality-of-police-culture-in-baltimore/391158/

Images of Protests:
http://fusion.net/story/126291/these-are-the-most-striking-pictures-of-the-freddie-gray-protests-in-baltimore/

Article from before it got violent, about the protests:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/hogan-state-police-to-help-deal-with-protests-at-request-of-baltimore-mayor/2015/04/23/f58a0d20-e9d2-11e4-9a6a-c1ab95a0600b_story.html

A Personal Journey

The National Youth Leadership Council has been a home to me for the past four years of my life. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Laura Bolling. I am currently a senior at Hamline University, finishing off my final days. I will be graduating with a BA in Communication Studies. I was brought into the NYLC family 4 years ago when I applied for a work-study position, and I got placed to be the Conference Assistant. I was kind of thrown in, not knowing anything about anyone, and not knowing much about the organization either. Being an 18 year old in a new city, meeting new people, I was naïve and very unsure of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be.

I slowly got to know the staff my first year, and was taking on anything and everything that the conference team needed me to do. This included: data entry, reaching out to affiliates and exhibitors, marketing the conference, organizing things in the office, being the volunteer coordinator at the conference – the list goes on. I don’t think I was able to fully appreciate everything that I was doing or the purpose of the organization until I was able to see everyone working together in action at the National Service-Learning Conference® that year. It was amazing to see everything that I’d been helping work toward all come together, and hearing what others had to say about what we had pulled together. At that moment it clicked for me: this small organization with only about 20 members was kind and helped rekindle my hope and faith in this world. The conference helps change people’s lives, inspires people to go out and complete service and promote service-learning, and most importantly advocates that the youth in today’s society are the key to everything. The youth of today are the ones who will change the world and are the ones who will continue to make a difference.

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This organization is here to recognize that and to give youth resources to network, learn about service-learning, and to spread the word and help change the world. I knew right then and there that I did not want to leave this organization. I remember when I told my supervisor that I wanted to come back, a look of shock crossed her face and she asked: “Wait, you want to come back?” I said yes, and that I’d be back near the end of August and would start as soon as I could, and have been back every year since then.

A lot has changed within this organization in the past four years: the people on the staff, the office space, the hours that I worked, but there’s one thing that has stayed the same and that is the meaning and purpose of NYLC. I’ve learned to “create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world with young people, their school, and their communities through service-learning”. I will always remember this organization and intend to come back. I will Serve. Learn. Change the World® through my next steps in life, starting off by working for AmeriCorps in a Minneapolis high school this next year.

Celebrate Earth Day with Service-Learning

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.

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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.

Meet the #YAC: Danasia Eubanks

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.

A Week in Service-Learning

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 Wednesday, 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!