Last month, America’s Promise Alliance released a report on “The Role of National Service in Closing the Graduation Gap.” This report coincided with the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, which since 1994 has connected volunteers to community needs, including educational attainment and access to quality education.
Much of the report focuses on how outside volunteers have helped students succeed in US schools and increased the national graduation rate. However, the report also pointed out that community service and volunteering can help older students stay motivated and connected to their school through a renewed sense of self and purpose. The report highlighted YouthBuild USA and YouthBuild Philly in particular, incorporating quotes from Simran Sidhu and Dorothy Stoneman on why service is a cornerstone of the YouthBuild model:
“Providing service in communities, making a difference, producing something of value has a profound influence on self-respect, identity and the career choices young people make — especially when they are in a group that has been considered worthless. For young men of color, it has a huge impact to be visible on the street doing something positive and tangible for their community — building affordable housing for their own neighborhoods.”
– Dorothy Stoneman, Founder and CEO, YouthBuild USA
“This kind of tangible service changes our students’ relationship with the community so that they go from being the problem to being the problem-solvers. Our students wear their hard hats and tool belts because they want to be seen in them. they’re so proud. ”
– Simran Sidhu, Executive Director, YouthBuild Philly
The report also noted that youth who volunteer are more likely to find employment and less likely to disconnect. Studies of YouthBuild programs, also summarized in the report, found that members who completed a year of AmeriCorps service were twice as likely to go to college as those who did not complete the year, and five times more likely to attend college than non-AmeriCorps members. There’s a lot to gain by giving back.