In fall 2015, the National Service Alliance will launch a national campaign to make a service year a common expectation and opportunity in America. Service years are typically performed by young adults over the course of a year.
The nation’s experience with AmeriCorps, as well as post-secondary service-learning, shows that service tied to education outcomes is a powerful way to motivate students, help them apply what they have learned, and gain the experience, skills, and connections they need to find employment after graduation. Such opportunities help prepare students for active citizenship.
The service year field is welcoming all education institutions to participate in a challenge running from January to March 2015. Each university or college entrant will compete for a prize to support the planning and creation of education-affiliated service year positions. Building on the promise of before college or after graduation structures from early adopters, the challenge seeks to gain further innovation on integrating learning and service during the college experience itself. Thanks to a generous grant from the Lumina Foundation, prize money totaling $100,000 is available. This prize pool will be spread across three categories—community colleges, public institutions, and private institutions—for $30,000 each category, plus a $10,000 Audience Choice prize.
To be eligible, institutions must design a service year program that will result in academic credit, meet Service Year exchange certification criteria, be sustainable, have the support of the institution’s leadership, and provide a model for other similar postsecondary institutions. Extra points would be awarded for programs that address outcomes in the Lumina Degree Qualifications Profile (degreeprofile.org), involve a significant number of positions, and could be launched in the 2015-16 school year.
For challenge details and online application to participate, visit SYChallenge.org