An Opportunity for Innovative Service Year Programs

Americans from all sectors are uniting behind a big idea -- that a "service year" becomes a common expectation and opportunity for 18-28 year olds as a path to completing college and finding employment. Programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps, as well as nonprofit organizations, provide several thousand service opportunities annually. The Service Year Alliance is working to exponentially increase the number of service year positions and young people serving in America. In 2016, we will launch a new technology platform called the Service Year Exchange (SYx). On the platform, young people can find service year opportunities, nonprofits and colleges can post service year opportunities, and institutions can fund the small living stipend to make such service possible.  For more information on this initiative, please visit ServiceYr.org.

Higher education has a long tradition of preparing students for careers and citizenship through education and service. Some examples include service-learning, federal work study, semesters and summers of service, deferrals or gap years to do a year of national service, and more. Higher education is innovating around this big idea of creating more opportunities for students to do a service year before, during, or after college. Together, with generous grant support from the Lumina Foundation, the Service Year Alliance seeks to spark innovation across the higher ed sector. Now in its second year, the Service Year + Higher Education: Innovation Challenge will explore the best ideas for linking service years to learning. We will build on the ideas presented in the 2015 Challenge to develop new designs for translating service years into course credit, helping students identify their passions, and increasing college completion rates. 

Service Year + Higher Education

The Service Year Alliance believes that the incorporation of service years into the post-secondary experience will better prepare students to complete their degree, attain employment, and become lifelong engaged citizens. 

While promising models for higher education-sponsored service years before beginning college or after graduation are being piloted in schools across the country, we are looking for models that make a service year a part of the undergraduate or graduate experience. Such an experience could occur during a “junior year away” (or on campus), a capstone final year experience, or programs that incorporate both summer and school year elements. Ideally, programs would be connected to academic learning. For example, communications students might serve in local nonprofit organizations; child development students might serve in local child care centers; language majors or students in ethnic studies fields might serve in immigrant communities; or others preparing for health-related careers would serve in local health clinics.

Challenge Hosts and Prize Partners

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina's outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. In 2013, Lumina Foundation made 96 grants for a total commitment of nearly $63 million.

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina's outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025.

In 2013, Lumina Foundation made 96 grants for a total commitment of nearly $63 million.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the  President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. CNCS also administers the Presidents Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.  

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the  President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. CNCS also administers the Presidents Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.

 

Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,100 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. We are a network comprising a national office and 34 state and regional Campus Compacts. As the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, Campus Compact enables campuses to develop students' citizenship skills and forge effective community partnerships. Our resources support faculty and staff as they pursue community-based teaching and scholarship in the service of postive change.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,100 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. We are a network comprising a national office and 34 state and regional Campus Compacts. As the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, Campus Compact enables campuses to develop students' citizenship skills and forge effective community partnerships. Our resources support faculty and staff as they pursue community-based teaching and scholarship in the service of postive change.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has an office in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has an office in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.