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

News Update Thursday – Investigation Decision

Video of Freddie Gray’s Death:

About the Culture of Police Brutality in Baltimore:

Images of Protests:

Article from before it got violent, about the protests:

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.


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.


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!

More Powerful Together

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.

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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.

Mac Never Gives Up

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.

#MPT15 Forges Ahead

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.

The man. The myth. The Bacon.

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.

NYLC Launches International Youth4Education Campaign

#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 Youth4Education.org. 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 www.nylc.org to learn more about NYLC and service-learning.