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The UPS Foundation and NYLC: Using Community Service to Improve Education

What if school districts believed that students could use what they’re learning in the classroom to solve real-world problems? And they made space for students and teachers to do that?

That’s the question that underlies the National Youth Leadership Council’s (NYLC) partnership with the UPS Foundation and three pilot districts across the United States. At NYLC, we work to mobilize young people in service to their communities and schools – not just as an after-school volunteer activity, but as a strategic, engaging part of their classroom experience. This process is called service-learning, and it can have powerful effects on learning, social development, and civic involvement throughout adulthood.

Taking on School Districts

Although many individual teachers and schools have used service-learning to transform their classrooms, few school districts have used it strategically across the entire district, despite 30 years of outcomes that demonstrate significant impact on student performance and persistence in education.

NYLC is working to change that.

Last September, NYLC highlighted the success of service-learning as a district-wide school reform initiative in a briefing on Capitol Hill with Guilford County Schools (GCS) in Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as partners from Communities in Schools and the U.S. Department of Education.

GCS is one of the largest districts nationwide to embrace service-learning as a means of improving education, and the district has seen phenomenal results. Three years after the initiative began, the number of low-performing schools reduced from ten to one, and they’ve achieved a 100% graduation rate in six schools, and over 90% in an additional nine.

NYLC has begun working with Mounds View Public Schools in Minnesota and New Castle Areas Schools in Pennsylvania to replicate that success. We’re helping administrators and educators understand how service-learning can help keep students engaged in academics throughout the school year, and we’re tracking their success to learn how this strategy can be scaled and improved.

Now students are exploring community problems that are meaningful to them—keeping local watersheds healthy, increasing access to fresh foods through community gardens, mentoring younger students, and putting their knowledge to use for the good of others.

Has community service impacted your life?  Tell us how in the comments.

In 2012, The UPS Foundation gave more than $97.5 million in cumulative donations around the world.  NYLC was just one of the many recipients of these grant dollars.  Check out the infographic below for more information.

The UPS Foundation 2012 Total Giving Infographic

Click in image to view

Category: Caring for Communities, Community
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    Comments [1]

  1. Great job UPS and NYLC helping build a brighter future.

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