Founded in 1986, YSA supports a global culture of engaged children and youth committed to a lifetime of meaningful service, learning, and leadership. With half the world’s population under age 25, our mission is to help all young people find their voice, take action, and make an impact on vital community issues. Starting in 2016, YSA will focus all our assets and outcomes on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The YSA program model:
YSA delivers all programs to youth, educators, community organizations, and families through our Global Youth Service Network (GYSN) partners. The GYSN is a coalition of local, state, national, and international organizations committed to engaging children and youth as leaders through volunteering, community service, service-learning, national service, and voting/civic engagement.
Through YSA’s programs, youth lead community change through:
YSA believes in the importance of impact and outcomes. The impact of YSA’s work is measured in terms of scale, diversity, visibility, impact on youth, and impact on community. As part of our 2015-2020 strategic plan, YSA has set ambitious goals to substantially increase the number of young people we engage in service, the number of partner organizations we work with, the number of youth-led projects we support that lead to measurable change in communities, the number of countries in which YSA is viewed as a resource center, and our annual revenue.
Want to make a difference? Take action? Solve a tough community problem? Whether you’re a child, teen, educator, or adult champion, YSA Grants can power your service and service-learning projects year-round.
Why grants? YSA believes in investing in youth as problem solvers to address the most important challenges facing our world. This bold strategy put children and youth in the driver’s seat and gives them the power to plan, implement, and witness the full impact of their service. YSA know that youth bring new strategies, skills and initiative to solve the world’s most challenging issues. YSA Grants can help.
1. BETWEEN 20% AND 55% OF ALL YOUNG PEOPLE VOLUNTEER (DEPENDING ON WHO AND HOW YOU ASK).
Depending on the specific age group asked as well as the specific the definition used, the average volunteer rate is usually reported between 25% and 50%. (The phrase “with/through an organization” leads to much different results since many young people volunteer on their own, with family or friends, through a religious group, etc. It also depends on whether the survey asks about volunteering regularly or volunteering within a certain period of time – eg, the last year.)
2. YOUNG PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY TO VOLUNTEER WHEN ENGAGED THROUGH SCHOOLS, YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS, OR RELIGIOUS GROUPS.
3. HAVING FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHO VOLUNTEER MAKES IT MUCH MORE LIKELY THAT A YOUNG PERSON WILL VOLUNTEER THEMSELVES.
4. YOUNG PEOPLE UNDER AGE 25 MAKE UP 1/3 OF THE POPULATION IN THE UNITED STATES AND 1/2 OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION.
There are more youth on the planet than ever before. Globally:
In the United States:
5. YOUNG PEOPLE ARE UNIQUELY SUITED TO SOLVE PROBLEMS THROUGH SERVICE.
The first full series of scans of the developing adolescent brain by the National Institutes of Health showed that our brains undergo a massive reorganization between our 12thand 25thyears to make the entire brain much faster and more sophisticated. Between the ages of 12 and 25, people are literally wired for excitement, novelty, risk, and peer authority. While these traits can be negative, they also make young people uniquely suited to solve problems, if given the opportunity.
6. HIGH QUALITY SERVICE-LEARNING LEADS TO INCREASED ACADEMIC ENGAGEMENT & SUCCESS.
Multiple studies reviewed and compiled by RMC Research show that students who participated in service-learning were found to have scored higher than nonparticipating students in several studies, particularly in social studies, writing, and English/language arts. They were found to be more cognitively engaged and more motivated to learn. Studies show great promise for service-learning as an avenue for increasing achievement among alternative school students and other students considered at risk of school failure
Engaged for Success: Service-Learning as a Tool for High School Dro... key findings include:
7. VOLUNTEERING IMPROVES CAREER AND WORKFORCE READINESS.
The Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment report from the Corporation for National & Community Service finds that volunteering is associated with increased likelihood of finding employment for all volunteers regardless of a person’s gender, age, ethnicity, geographical area, or the job market conditions. Specifically, the study found a 5% increase in employment among volunteers who are opportunity youth (ages 16 through 24, not in school and not working).
Several studies have affirmed the research that has consistently shown the value of service-learning in helping young people explore career options.
8. SERVICE IS A “GATEWAY ASSET” THAT CAN LEAD TO INCREASED POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES.
The Search Institute identifies service to others as a “gateway asset” and finds that service and service-learning can have positive effects on at least 20 of the 40 developmental assets. The report goes on to say that “service participation may both result from and contribute to young people’s connection to mutually reinforcing assets.”
9. PEOPLE WHO VOLUNTEER WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG DONATE MORE TO PHILANTHROPIC CAUSES WHEN THEY ARE OLDER. (THEY ARE ALSO MORE LIKELY TO VOLUNTEER AND TO VOTE AS ADULTS.)
Independent Sector’s Engaging Youth in Lifelong Service report shows that youth volunteers are slightly, but consistently, more likely to be contributors than others in the same income level. The impact of youth volunteering is much more dramatic when examined in terms of how much adults give. In every income category, those who volunteered as youth give more than those who did not, and this impact increases with income. As the financial resources of a household increase, those involved in youth volunteering give considerably more.
10. VOLUNTEERING CAN HELP IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH.
In the 2013 Health and Volunteering Study, of people who volunteered in the last twelve months across all age groups:
Everyday Young Hero Awards
Everyday Young Heroes are young people, ages 5-25, who are improving their communities through service to others and making significant progress in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each week, the YSA Team selects one young person to receive this honor. The chosen youth can have a project that is developed in or outside of the classroom, in conjunction with an organization or religious institution, or can be an initiative or organization they started on his or her own or with their friends. Projects can provide a direct service, be philanthropic, or raise awareness or advocacy around a particular community need.
The young person and their nominator are notified via email upon being selected as an Everyday Young Hero. The Hero receives a congratulatory letter, a certificate of recognition, and is highlighted in YSA’s newsletter and on social media, raising the profile of his or her good work.
This year, thanks to generous support from Newman’s Own Foundation, YSA will also select 12 winners- one per month- to receive $250 grants to continue and expand their project. If you know an Everyday Young Hero, submit your nomination here
Morgan Patterson (17, Kerrville, Texas) is passionate about helping other people in need. She tackles poverty in her community by making handmade products, designing t-shirts, selling these items, and then purchasing tangible items to donate. Not only does she raise funds to provide people from low-income families with basic items, but she also volunteers at every possible project in her community to maximize her positive impact on people around her. She mentors elementary students, helps with Special Olympics, assists in food drives, and volunteers during VBS at her church.
Morgan discovered her passion for community service at the age of 4 when she learned about The Salvation Army. She started helping other people in her community by having a lemonade stand, and then moved to producing personally designed t-shirts. By selling those items, she purchased food, clothing, bedding, small and large appliances, medical supplies, baby equipment, and many other items. Items are usually donated directly to those who need them most or to the Salvation Army or other non-profit organizations in the area.
Morgan has a great heart and is eager to help anyone in a difficult and hopeless situation. When Morgan’s friend’s family lost everything they had, Morgan took action and raised funds to provide these people with basic items they needed at the time. This had a great impact on both the family that received Morgan’s generous support. Morgan believes that everyone has something to offer to another person in need, and if we all contribute a little, this can make a great impact on other people’s lives. At the moment, Morgan is dreaming about creating her own non-profit to be able to manage and provide donations more effectively. Each year, Morgan strives to make more money so she can provide more goods to The Salvation Army to help those in need.
Morgan is a role model who inspires others to create change in their communities!
Sarvesh Sadana (16, Fremont, California) is an anti-poverty advocate who provides California homeless residents with
shoes. He co-founded a non-profit organization called Shoecyclist that donates gently used footwear to individuals without homes. Sarvesh is planning to donate 10,000 used shoes to those individuals and engage youth in his ambitious project. Through his work, Sarvesh hopes to help others develop empathy towards the homeless population, which is often misjudged.
California has approximately 116,000 residents experiencing homelessness. Lack of proper footwear is a serious problem faced by the homeless community. Given the time spent on foot in inclement weather, shoes wear out in a few months. Lack of access to good shoes leads to a lot of foot-related medical issues. Many of these individuals battle diabetes, which may cause numerous medical complexities. So far, Shoecyclist has provided 2,000 pairs of gently used shoes to the Bay Area homeless.
The project has gained public support throughout the state. Although Sarvesh never asks for monetary help from donors, he has been able to raise $4,000 to support his organization. He markets the mission of Shoecyclist and encourages companies to hold shoe drives. Sarvesh has approached numerous footwear companies to make donations of new or slightly irregular footwear, to help the homeless community. The plan is to expand the organization to different areas within the state and nationwide.
With Shoecyclist, Sarvesh helps the environment by finding a better purpose for shoes that would be otherwise be thrown in landfills every year. He inspires young people in his community to think big and serve with compassion.