Introducing the Service Year Alliance

Jenna Dell, Ed.D., Associate Director for Higher Ed Partnerships, Service Year Alliance

September 16, 2016

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.

At 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 ([email protected]).

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