A service year is a transformational experience, offering young people the chance to develop valuable 21st century skills through hands-on professional experiences. Service years can also provide a ‘road to liberation,’ offering a pathway out of circumstances that can perpetuate inequality, marginalization, and discrimination. In the work we do to support, strengthen, and scale the service year field, we've prioritized improving access and equitable outcomes for service year corps members and the communities they serve.
To that end, we invited service year program representatives, employers, policymakers, and young people to our summit on Service Years + Opportunity Youth in December 2018 focused on elevating practices that make service years more accessible to young people disconnected from school and work, who could benefit exponentially from doing a year of service. We've hired a full-time Director of Equity and Community Strategy and developed a strategy to make equity a priority for all service year programs — in the work that they do both in communities and with their service year corps members. This work is particularly important as we are working to make national service a part of the next election. If national service is to scale, we want to ensure it is done in an equitable manner.
We also understand that most service year programs are working locally to address the needs of communities, and that many service year programs could benefit from increasing their knowledge of ways to align their missions with local priorities. Through our equity work, Service Year Alliance can help service year programs more effectively connect to the needs of communities they serve and leverage service years as a strategy to build bridges across societal divides.
Interested in learning more about our commitment to equity and opportunity youth?