Learn and Serve America supports service-learning programs that
address local needs in education, public safety, human services, and the
environment. Service-learning involves students in service to
communities as part of their academic experience.
Service-learning programs engage young people in community activities
that show them how academic skills can be used to solve real-life
problems. While doing so, service-learning programs help
students understand the meaning of citizenship and their ability to
determine and affect the quality of life in their communities.
To address needs of homeless people for example, elementary school
students might plan, prepare and serve lunch in a shelter on a weekly
basis as part of health education class. By creating
and serving balanced meals, students not only learn nutrition basics,
they also establish relationships with people different from themselves
and gain an understanding of the conditions that lead to
homelessness. In higher education, nursing students might help operate
a community health center serving low-income people. While the students
acquire practical experience in their field of study, they also help
meet health needs that local budgets cannot afford.
Learn and Serve America: Getting Youth Started in
America's Tradition of Service
More than 780,000 students currently provide vitally needed
services to their communities through Learn and Serve America. For
many, this is their first exposure to evaluating and addressing
community needs. Statistics show that a meaningful service experience
instills a lifelong desire to contribute to society. This desire, along
with the skills and knowledge participants gain through
service, builds a strong future generation of citizens and community leaders.
Last year, over 190,000 young people provided nearly 3 million hours
of service to their communities through Learn and Serve America. The
service ranged from tutoring disadvantaged youth to rehabilitating
public housing to helping single mothers strengthen job skills. In
addition, 45,000 volunteers from the communities served assisted in the
operation of those programs, contributing over 605,000 hours of service.
Students who participate in service-learning programs show increased
interest in school and improved academic performance. For example,
following a service-learning program that combined
science lessons with meeting local environmental needs, students placed
in the 97th percentile in science knowledge and were the first group of
Indiana students ever to unanimously choose science
as their favorite subject; this school is in a county that previously
had ranked lowest on the state's educaton attainment scale.
Learn and Serve America programs encourage youth to pursue
service-oriented careers. Said one pre-med student involved in
service-learning at a free health clinic, "I had always planned to be an
academic after I got my degree, a professor focused on research. But
now I know I want to become a doctor who works with underserved people.
It would be the ultimate contribution I could make to society."
Local support for service-learning programs is strong: Institutions
and organizations that receive Learn and Serve America grants for higher
education programs find local matching funds in cash or in-kind,
dollar for dollar. Organizations and schools that receive Learn and
Serve America grants for K-12 initiatives also match funds, 10% the
first year, 20% the second, and 30% the third.
If you would like more information, call: 202-606-5000