It’s been a long time coming, but I finally did it. I am starting a nonprofit. You could say that Shia LaBeouf's motivational video helped out a little bit (it’s just so empowering). It just sort of fell into place one morning while I was sitting at my desk; everything I ever wanted in a non-profit organization was there. So I got to brainstorming, and with the help of some friends and family and mentors, the Youth Service Alliance was born. I have a passion for volunteerism. My high school volunteer experiences are some of the main reasons that I chose to pursue my degree in Social Work. Organizations like Rotary International and Salvation Army are two of the first organizations I ever volunteered with. As a high school sophomore in 2009, I attended Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY ILCS) and that experience and many others were a catalyst to a lifetime commitment of serving others. My volunteer experience in high school was formative and impactful. I love volunteering with organizations that mirror my passions, and I believe youth should have the same opportunities.
Huffington Post published an article calling the Millennial generation more passionate than our parents. Forbes says that we “geek out too much” over everyday things. NPR says that we are way more focused on civic and community action instead of national politics, and while our work ethic may be much lower than anticipated, our individual skills and priorities are different from generations before us. Where our parents and employers may feel incredibly discouraged by those statements, I am encouraged. I see passion in our generation that is just unchannelled -- imagine what Millennials could accomplish with passion directed towards organizations that are already creating change in their communities. I see a generation of people more impacted by local stories and creating local change than concerning themselves with the politics at a national and international level. Millennials, more than generations before us, are taking an interest in social change at an incredibly personal level. The trend does not seem to go away in the unnamed generation after us, either. It’s these students that can be change agents in their community, solving problems and saving the world before they even graduate from high school.
My experiences working with volunteers in college helped me notice a need: we need to equip passionate students with resources to be better volunteers. I am incredibly passionate about that, because I have seen how volunteering with churches, schools, soup kitchens, and nonprofits like Rotary and HOBY can change a student's perspective on the world around them and motivate them to make meaningful change on a regular basis.
So now what? That's where Youth Service Alliance comes in.
Youth Service Alliance
Youth Service Alliance is a program for youth that introduces them to volunteerism in a new way. By partnering with organizations and nonprofits in the community, youth will get the opportunity to create a lasting, committed connection serving in their community. The connection will go beyond volunteer hours completed on a regular basis. This connection is meant to be personal and meaningful, showing students the importance of connecting and serving in the community.
The Youth Service Alliance is a dual partnership between students and organizations, to train students to be more effective volunteers and to give organizations the tools and training to create an environment that utilizes the skills of volunteers well.
Students in 7-12th grade would be eligible to participate in the program. Nonprofit organizations, community organizations, or churches who use volunteers on a regular basis are eligible to sign up to be an Ally. From there, we will develop volunteer and leadership skills in the students, partner each student with an organization that reflects their passions. The goal is to create a partnership that will last for years, to encourage students to volunteer, and to develop leadership skills and life skills in these students.
Interested in becoming an Ally? Go here.
Interested in becoming an Ally? Go here.
Why not? What 7-12th grader couldn’t benefit from volunteer experience, life skills training, and leadership development? What organization or nonprofit couldn’t benefit from volunteer coordination and training to make their organization more volunteer friendly? The idea is to create a partnership that is meaningful and beneficial to both students and the organizations they serve.
It takes a lot of work to start a nonprofit. But I have been lucky to have the makings of a very dedicated and passionate team. Before we can fully get things into motion, we are taking time to plan, read, and develop our strategies. We are also filing for 501(c)3 status. This process all together will cost us around $800. It is our goal to raise $1,500 with GoFundMe.
I’m really passionate about this, and so we are reaching out to family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and anyone else willing to donate. I believe in the power of social media, and I believe it can do a lot of good.