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Start Your Own Service Learning

Many national organizations can help school districts develop high-quality service learning activities, and most states have Learn and Serve programs in their state departments of education that districts can easily access.

Elson Nash, Learn and Serve’s associate director for program management, says interested school districts should also take advantage of administrative training offered by the Education Commission for the States. “The best way to get connected is to talk to peers about the challenges of doing service learning right and how to build and align it with state standards.”

Joseph Follman, director of Florida Learn and Serve, advises districts to first form a core group to be trained in concepts and pedagogy and to ensure that key policy and educational goals are understood. “It must be seen by all stakeholders as an effective means to ends that they have,” he says.

In the early planning stages, members should visit schools where well-designed projects are running and gain insight about what service learning entails.

Helpful resources include:

American Youth Policy Forum

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Corporation for National and Community Service

Education Commission of the States’ National Center for Learning and Citizenship

Generation Yes—Youth and Educators Succeeding

Learn and Serve—America’s National Service Learning Clearinghouse

National Service Learning Partnership

National Youth Leadership Council

State Education Agency K-12 Service Learning Network

Youth Serve America