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Introducing the Service Year Alliance

As educators we sometimes struggle to find new and innovative methods to engage students in ways that will develop them as active citizens during their collegiate experiences and after graduation. With the introduction of Service Year Alliance, higher education institutions have an opportunity to offer students a new type of experiential education and build on the tradition of service-learning, internships, and community engagement.

service-year-alliance-logoAt Service Year Alliance, we believe that the incorporation of a service year into the post-secondary experience will better prepare students to complete their degrees, secure meaningful employment, and become lifelong engaged citizens. Service years in higher education have the power to attract students, enliven education, and put graduates on pathways to careers.

There are countless ways for your college or university to get involved and embrace a service year on campus and play a leadership role in these efforts, including recognizing the service year experience and integrating service years before, during, or after college. You can explore detailed opportunities to get involved with help from the Service Year + Higher Ed Engagement Toolkit.

Several higher education institutions have already taken significant steps as leaders in this movement.

The College of William and Mary (Va.) and James Madison University (Va.) created service year fellowships for recent graduates to address unmet community needs on and off campus. Each fellow serves full time for 10 months for a modest stipend and housing at the institution.

-As a 2015 Service Year + Higher Ed innovation challenge winner, Miami Dade College (Fla.) implemented a 9 month/20 hours per week peer to peer mentoring program for foster care youth. Mentors receive three credits and leadership during their service year.

Drexel University (Pa.) and the University of Pittsburgh (Pa.) were the 2016 winners of the Service Year + Higher Ed innovation challenge for private institutions and public institutions respectively. Through UConnect at Drexel University, students will act as community navigators to connect Philadelphia residents to social services. Students will serve for 9 months, receive course credit, and fulfill the Co-op requirement for graduation. Social Entrepreneurs, Esq. (‘SEE’) will give University of Pittsburgh students the opportunity to complete a unique 3+1+3 program resulting in an undergraduate business degree, a social entrepreneurship ‘gap’ Service Year, and a law degree in 7 years.  Students will work 32 hours per week and receive course credits towards a BS in Business Administration; an option for a CBA Certificate in Leadership and Ethics, and up to 14 law school credits related to social entrepreneurship, innovation and intellectual property.

-In addition to creating a post-graduate fellowship, Elon University’s Student Professional Development Center (N.C.) promotes service year opportunities through virtual alumni panels, service year expos, and advising.

We look forward to working with NASPA Lead Initiative institutions and American Democracy Project (ADP) and The Democracy Commitment (TDC) members to explore ways for your college or university to get involved with Service Year Alliance and make a service year a common expectation and opportunity on your campus.

Service Year Alliance’s higher education work is made possible by the Lumina Foundation and in partnership with Campus Compact.

To learn more, please contact Jenna Dell, Ed.D., Associate Director for Higher Ed Partnerships at Service Year Alliance (jdell@serviceyr.org).

Announcing the Service Year + Higher Ed Challenge ($100,000 in prizes; applications due March 11th)

From our friends at The Service Year Alliance (an initiative of Be The Change and The Aspen Institute):

The Service Year Alliance, the Lumina Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Campus Compact, announced the second year of the Service Year + Higher Ed Challenge on January 13th. The effort challenges higher education institutions to create innovative new service year opportunities connected to academic credit for their students. All post-secondary education institutions are welcome to apply by March 11th and compete for $100,000 in prizes.

The top three finalists in each category (public universities, private universities and community colleges) will receive a stipend to travel to the Aspen Institute’s headquarters in Washington, DC, on April 12th to pitch their ideas in-person to a distinguished panel of judges, higher education and national service experts and potential donors.

Generous support from the Lumina Foundation has made the prize possible. For more information, including how to apply, please visit SYchallenge.org. Three Q&A conference calls will also be held on January 28th, February 16th and March 1st. To participate, please register here.

Partner Spotlight: 9 Finalists Announced for NCoC’s Service Year + Higher Ed Innovation Challenge

Congratulations to San Jose State University (Calif.) and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, two AASCU/ADP institutions. And also, congratulations to Miami Dade College (Fla.) and the Alamo Colleges (Texas), members of The Democracy Commitment!

NCoC and the Franklin Project launched the Service Year + Higher Ed: Innovation Challenge in January. Over 30 public, private, and community colleges from across the country submitted applications, nine were chosen as finalists.The Challenge calls on higher ed institutions to creatively integrate learning with national service into the college experience. It is supported by Lumina Foundation and in partnership with the Corporation for National & Community Service.

Applicants are competing for one of three $30,000 prizes and an additional $10,000 Audience Choice Award, all of which is supported by Lumina Foundation. On April 15, all finalists will be invited to present their ideas to a high-profile panel of judges in Washington, DC.

To learn more, please visit SYChallenge.org.

Community Colleges

Alamo Colleges is proposing to extend their partnership with Public Allies by creating opportunities for currently enrolled first-generation students with at least 12 credit hours to integrate a 10-month, full-time, service year into their college experience. The students would receive 6 credits for their service.

Miami Dade College is proposing a Changemaker Corps, a peer to peer mentoring and support program that helps youth who have aged out of foster care mentor other foster care system students, with the goal of helping them stay in school, graduate, and develop employability skills. The mentors’ service year would be 20 hours per week for 9 months, for which they would receive 3 credits and professional development.

Salt Lake Community College is proposing a Civically Engaged Scholar program where participating students would serve 20 hours per week for an academic year with community partners in the Salt Lake area. They would receive 3 credits for their service and related coursework, and would receive a distinction on their transcript.

Public Universities

San Jose State is proposing a Restore Coyote Creek service year program to enlist students across disciplines in the restoration, beautification, and recreational development of Coyote Creek. Participating students would participate in direct service and support efforts to mobilize the community. The 10-month, 20-hour per week service year would be connected to 8 academic credits plus linked to additional related courses.

The University of Kentucky is proposing a Kentucky Scholar Intern program where participating juniors or seniors would be placed in state or local government agencies, or with nonprofits, in the most under-resources areas of the state. The 11-month, full-time service year would be connected to 30 academic credits.

UMass Dartmouth is proposing a Community Health Worker: Advocate! Navigate! Educate!service year. The service year builds upon the Universities College Now Program, a five year alternative admissions option for students from culturally diverse backgrounds and economically challenged families. The 12 month service year will provide a total of 12 academic credits and position participants to complete a minor in leadership and civic engagement.

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