Nation’s K-12 Youth to Take the Learn & Serve Challenge

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Year-Long Initiative Boost Lessons from the Classroom to Community Engagement

We support the Learn and Serve Challenge because it does the same and is powered by service.

This week the National Service-Learning Partnership kicked-off the 2009-2010 Learn and Serve Challenge, a national grassroots effort to promote youth civic engagement and service-learning. From October 5 through 12, community leaders, educators and students will join together to launch projects that blend content knowledge and skills learned in school with civic action to create high-quality, academic service-learning initiatives. The 9-month Challenge gives students an opportunity to use what they learn in school and community-based classrooms to implement innovative solutions to problems within five priority areas: community renewal, education, energy/environment, health, safety and security.

“At Usher’s New Look, we empower youth to be positive leaders in their communities. We do this by encouraging youth to think critically and act passionately about issues affecting their lives,” said Usher Raymond IV, Founder and Chairman of Usher’s New Look. “We support the Learn and Serve Challenge because it does the same and is powered by service.”

Just two days into the Challenge, more than 67,000 and 152 projects have been registered on the Learn & Serve Challenge registry (http://www.learnandservechallenge.org).

“Our country’s youth are a powerful, insightful and energetic group of new leaders. By creating opportunities for them to channel their knowledge, passion and commitment to change, together we can strengthen communities,” said Nelda Brown, Executive Director for the National Service-Learning Partnership. “We are asking school and community leaders to join our year-long campaign to bring learning to life and empowering students to use what they learn in school in service activities.”

Service-learning is an effective hands-on teaching method that has been proven to keep students in school, boost student engagement and builds their problem solving skills. 81 percent of students dropped out of schools revealed told researchers they would have stayed in school if real-world, service-learning opportunities were offered. Schools that do offer service-learning programs reported a 76 percent increase in the GPA for participating students.

In a video message to National Education Association members, President Dennis Van Roekel challenged students to “use what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems in their communities.” His complete message can be viewed online at: http://www.learnandservechallenge.org.

"Building strong schools and dynamic communities takes the hands of many," explained National Youth Leadership Council President and CEO Jim Kielsmeier. "For years we have worked in tandem with educators to increase service-learning opportunities for students, whether that means helping students identify local needs, supporting resource development for teachers, or hosting gatherings such as the National Service-Learning Conference."

High quality service-learning programs have been linked to improved problem-solving skills, a boost in overall school engagement and increases in mathematics. When connected to a service related projects students tend to be on time for class, ask more questions in class, and have higher completion rates for classroom tasks.

School and community-based partners can easily to launch service-learning program using the Learn and Serve Challenge tools and resources. Participating schools and communities will have access to an online service-learning starter kits to help jumpstart service-learning activities, free virtual learning or professional development opportunities via webinars, video clips, conference calls, online forum/chats, or webcasts and a step-by-step guide on how to launch a Challenge initiative.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL LEARN & SERVE CHALLENGE
The Learn & Serve Challenge is a signature event of the National Service-Learning Partnership, made possible with support from State Farm Companies Foundation. Lead Organizing Partners include: SEANet - the State Education Agency K-12 Service-Learning Network, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Association of Community Colleges, America's Promise Alliance, Camp Fire USA, Campus Compact, DECA, Learn and Serve America’s National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, National Alliance for Faith and Justice, National Education Association, National Youth Leadership Council, Usher’s New Look Foundation, and Youth Service America in collaboration with the Corporation for National and Community Service. For more information, visit http://www.learnandservechallenge.org

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SERVICE-LEARNING PARTNERSHIP
The National Service-Learning Partnership at the Academy for Educational Development is a grassroots network of more than 12,000 members from all 50 states and U.S. territories. The Partnership connects and mobilizes youth, teachers, parents, administrators, policymakers, education leaders, community partners, businesspeople, and researchers dedicated to advancing service-learning as a core part of every young person’s life and education. For more information, visit http://www.service-learningpartnership.org

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Jodie Pozo-Olano
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