Here at the Jefferson Awards, we love the power of a big idea, and we especially love it when young people take that idea and run with it. At the core of our Students In Action youth leadership program is the idea that leadership skills are best developed through “learning by doing”. In a nutshell, the program is designed to be a framework and toolkit that empowers kids to thing big, get started and make things happen.
As part of the program, we teach students the power of the press, and show them how to write press releases and organize press events. Just in the last week, we’ve had a couple of examples of students taking this idea and running with it.
Last weekend in Wilmington, Delaware, the Tower Hill Students in Action Leadership Team organized their 2nd Annual ‘Leadership & The Press Event’, with a panel that included U.S. Senator Chris Coons, U.S. Congressman John Carney and Delaware State Senator Mike Katz. Now this wasn’t something that the school organized. It was the Student Leaders themselves who came up with the idea, developed a plan and made it happen.
Earlier this week in Jackson, Tennessee, South Side High School students hosted Fox News Chief Political Correspondent Ellen Ratner, who was there to present Jefferson Awards to four students who had demonstrated outstanding effort and commitment to service in the community. The event attracted the local media and was attended by local elected officials. Again, it wasn’t the school that organized this event. It was the Jefferson Awards Student Leaders who came up with the idea, developed a plan and made it happen.
If you follow the link to the local media coverage from the Jackson Sun (which is one of 150 TV stations, radio station and newspapers that work with us to find outstanding unsung grassroots heroes in communities across America), you see that they refer to a press release on the event. That wasn’t from Fox News – it was the Student Leaders that put that together, and made sure that their event got covered.
Powerful stuff, huh? If people ever ask me if I think this generation of young leaders can help get us back on the right track, my emphatic answer is:
YES, THEY CAN!!
Youth Service Challenge Checklist
- Get recognized for your existing service projects
- Opportunity to win cash prizes
- Opportunity to win celebrity visits
- Be part of a youth service movement
- Do lots of extra work!!>
The Youth Service Challenge was designed to shine a light on students in service and to engage one million youth over the next three years in student-led service projects.
What we’ve tried to do is to provide a library of service project templates to help you get started, but if you’re already working on a service project (or recently completed one), we’ve thought of that, too. We have a Bring Your Own Service Project (BYOSP) option that you can use to tell us about your project, and be eligible for all the goodies above. It only takes 10-15 minutes, and here is how you get started:
Register for the Youth Service Challenge.
Note: If you’re under 13, your teacher or youth organizer will have to register.
- Tell us about your project Once you’ve registered, you’ll be able to research project ideas. create a new service project or tell us about an existing or recently completed project. You’ll also be able to upload images, and embed Youtube videos.
Think about that number. Each and every Jefferson Awards recipient has been recognized for making a difference in their community or in the world around them. Collectively, they have changed the world in significant ways. Gandhi once said that we should be the change that we wish to see in the world, and Jefferson Awards recipients are that change, inspiring others to stop saying “someone should do something about that” to “I’m going to do something”.
As we look forward to our 40th anniversary next year, we’re posing ourself a question. Given all of the technological advances that lets us all connect, stay in touch, share ideas, rally around important causes and drive positive change, how do we connect our Jefferson Awards recipients, our nominees, our nominators and everyone else who cares passionately about helping others and making the world a better place? How do connect people who might have the answers to each others questions? How do we learn from each other’s successes and challenges that have been overcome?
We’re working on this right now, but we’d love your help. Please share your ideas as a comment.
www.YouthServiceChallenge.org Kicks Off Campaign on President’s Day to Enlist One Million Student Volunteers
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.
Since last year’s Jefferson Awards National Ceremonies, I’ve remained in touch with one of our JKO winners, Heather Wilder and her mom, Tammy. It’s been an honor and a privilege to see Heather blossom into an inspirational young woman, so it gives me great pleasure to share one of her recent speaking engagements with you.
Here is Heather, presenting at TEDxYSE on November 13th, 2010 in Washington, DC.
Here at the Jefferson Awards, life can be a bit of a blur sometimes. March is always a busy month, as we prepare for the Spring Competitions in each of our Students In Action youth leadership communities, and work with our Jefferson Awards Champions and Media Partners in selecting their local recipients, whowill go on to represent them at our 2011 Jefferson Awards National Ceremonies in Washington D.C.
Right now, we’re very busy planning the National Ceremonies. Having outgrown East Hall in 2009, we’re again having the main Gala Dinner at the National Building Museum. For those of you who have never had the chance to visit it, you are missing a rare treat, so do follow the link and check it out!
Last but not least, April 1st – April 3rd sees us heading to Cincinnati for the 2nd National Youth Service Summit, which is a weekend-long event focused on youth and the impact they are having in their communities and the world around them.