National initiative by Jefferson Awards and Ways To Help encourages youth-led service projects addressing community needs in hunger, health and the environment
PROJECTS ELIGIBLE FOR PRIZES EXCEEDING $100,000 IN VALUE
Wilmington, Del., Feb. 21, 2011 – Two organizations whose work helps promote a range of positive actions among America’s youth throughout the United States have launched a nationwide effort to shine a light on students in service and to engage one million youth in the next three years in student-led service projects.
The Youth Service Challenge is led by The Jefferson Awards and WaysToHelp and is supported by the Jefferson Awards National Partners – All Stars Helping Kids, Communities in Schools, HealthCorps and UGIVE. The program seeks to promote youth leadership and volunteerism in the areas of hunger, health and the environment, or through projects of the students’ own choosing.
“The Youth Service Challenge is poised to harness the awesome power of America’s youth in public service to their country,” said Robert M. Ford, Executive Director of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service. “Young people throughout the United States have been serving and volunteering within their communities since the earliest days of the republic. This initiative, which, appropriately enough, is being launched on President’s Day, seeks to organize and amplify that spirit of giving back and direct it into areas where these students can make a significant and lasting impact.”
The inaugural year of the Challenge will focus on challenging high school students to undertake service projects that will, in turn, serve as repeatable models for youth of all ages in subsequent years. Students interested in leading or participating in a service project can find “How To” kits on the Youth Service Challenge website (www.YouthServiceChallenge.org). The online kits have been designed to train students to lead a project in each of the following areas: Ending Hunger, Saving the Environment and Improving Health and Wellness. Students also can register a project of their own through the Bring Your Own Service Project (BYOSP) section of the site, thus broadening the breadth of projects from which other students can choose.
“We designed the Youth Service Challenge to engage the Millennials,” said David Boyer, founder of WaysToHelp. “Given their connection to all forms of media, this generation is more socially aware than any before, and although they are young, they can make a substantial contribution toward raising awareness, raising funds and taking action to address the issues that are important to them, especially if they leverage their networks through social media. Not only are we challenging them to get involved in the issues they care about most, but we are helping supercharge their efforts by giving them access to great project templates, media toolkits and social networking tools. We can’t wait to see – and highlight – all the great things they’re doing to make the world a better place.”
Projects registered at www.YouthServiceChallenge.org by April 17, 2011, will be eligible for prizes exceeding $100,000 in value. This includes $15,000 in cash, celebrity visits and other prizes. One group will win a trip to be honored as the “Youth Service Challenge Project of the Year” at the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Academy Award winners Richard Dreyfuss and Ellen Burstyn, HealthCorps founder Dr. Mehmet Oz, M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell, former astronaut Col. Buzz Aldrin, sports legends Ronnie Lott and Cris Collinsworth, former Lt. Governor of Maryland Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and FOX broadcaster Chris Wallace will support the Youth Service Challenge by visiting participating schools.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is participating as a National Outreach Partner as are Feeding America, Share Our Strength, Goodwill Industries and Earth Echo. Through the U.S. Conference of Mayors, more than 60 mayors have agreed to participate in the Challenge by encouraging and highlighting service excellence in their cities.
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ABOUT THE PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS
Jefferson Awards (www.jeffersonawards.org)
In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard founded the Jefferson Awards as the ‘Nobel Prize’ for Public Service. Today, the mission of the Jefferson Awards is to ‘recognize, inspire and activate volunteerism and public service in communities, workplaces and schools across America’. The Jefferson Awards works with over 150 television stations, radio stations and newspapers across the country to recognize and encourage grassroots ‘Unsung Heroes.’ With Deloitte, the Jefferson Awards has created Students In Action (SIA) to multiply youth service driven by student leaders. As of June 2010, SIA was in more than 300 schools in nine communities.
WaystoHelp was founded by David Boyer, previously of McKinsey & Company and eBay. Its mission is to engage, inspire and enable youth to make a positive difference in the world. The organization’s model is to mobilize youth by using in-school and on-line programming. Since its founding in late 2009, it has helped thousands of teens to get involved in service projects across the country. Follow WaysToHelp at www.facebook.eom/WaysToHelp and www.Twitter.com/WaysToHelp.
All Stars Helping Kids (www.allstarshelpingkids.org)
All Stars Helping Kids was founded by NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott in 1989 with the goal of promoting a safe, healthy and rigorous learning environment for disadvantaged kids in low-income communities. All Stars has been a galvanizing force and vehicle for individuals, professional athletes and corporate partners to invest in the future of children in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Over the last two decades, All Stars has raised more than $20 million to fulfill its mission and has expanded to Los Angeles, Dallas and New York City.
Communities In Schools (www.communitiesinschools.org)
Communities In Schools (CIS), founded by Bill Milliken in 1977, operates in over 3,000 schools in over 250 communities. Its goal is to work with potential high school drop-outs to offer them the necessary services and tools to stay in school, become college bound and/or attain meaningful employment. One of the founding principles of CIS is for participating students to give back.
HealthCorps was founded by heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz in 2003 to bring America to a tipping point of health. The organization works to help stop teen obesity and get American students to take charge of their own health. HealthCorps empowers citizens and organizations to bring about health reform through community-based projects, and it advocates for policy shifts that put health and physical education back in the core curriculum. HealthCorps is currently in 50 schools.
UGIVE.org was founded in 2007 by Cris Collinsworth, NBC sports analyst and All-Pro wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Deanna Castellini, a community volunteer of the Cincinnati Reds ownership family. UGIVE is on a mission to catalyze, excite and empower the next generation of volunteers. Via online volunteer opportunity postings and a proprietary student service tracking system, UGIVE makes volunteering relevant to students, guiding them to give their time and talents to build communities. The UGIVE goal is to create lifelong givers. UGIVE currently operates in over 400 high schools in 15 states. By 2015, the goal is for UGIVE to be in 15,000 to 20,000 schools.