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A Teen’s Look at Litter

August 10th, 2016

by Jonathan Stapleton

For my latest service trashproject I partnered up with my cousin Emily to pick up all the trash on our streets. Littering has always bothered me because I don’t like seeing our environment messy and dirty. This is why I have chosen this as my project. Emily and I walked down our street in Goodlettsville, TN and collected tons of bottles, cans, bags, wrappers, etc. Something that I never realized is how much trash there really is. After only picking up trash for about one and a half hours Emily and I filled 4 large trash bags.

This has really affected me and I plan on picking up trash on a weekly basis. I’ve never understood why you would liter. Can you not just wait until you get home to throw away your trash ? Is it really necessary to throw your garbage out the window ? I don’t think so. To help you understand how big of a problem this is I’m gonna give you some facts. Over 1.8 billion tons of trash ends up in the ocean. Up to $11.5 billion is spent to clean up liter each year. 50% of liter is cigarette butts. Most people think these will dissolve quickly but it can actually take up too 10 years for them to completely dissolve. Here’s another fact, one mile of highway contains approximately 16,000 pieces of liter. This number is unnecessary and can very easily be fixed. Wanna know how ? Just don’t throw it on the ground. A cigarette butt isn’t a large item and may seem like nothing but it adds up. My point is, just wait until you get home or find a public trash can.

This is a problem that needs to be fixed really soon or else it could get out of hand. After doing this project its really impacted me and it definitely met a big community need. It may not seem like the best time or the most fun thing you could be doing but if you go with a friend it can actually turn into a fun time. If you can go out for just 30 minutes you can make a difference. I hope you give this a try and can help out our environment. Thank you for listening.

Using Tech Talents to Make the World a Better Place

June 29th, 2016

Submitted by Riley Anderson

I came up with the idea for theDesktop 2016-05-02 14-17-20.png “Grammar mistakes we all make | How not to look stupid” video idea when I made a spelling mistake. I had prior experience from playing Minecraft with lazy people who don’t take the time to spell. But when I got a chance to do a video about it, I saw it as a huge opportunity to make the world a better place by correcting common mistakes people make with their grammar. In the video I cover five mistakes people make. Those including there, their and they’re, its & it’s, proper apostrophe usage, proper capitalization and comma placement. These are some errors I have noticed are plentiful.

I wasn’t able to get into detail because the video wouldn’t get as many views as it did because people don’t want to watch a long video about mistakes. I could have made a video with long explanations and a really boring video but as I stated before nobody would have watched it. I got an amazing three views in the first twenty four hours. I was able to do this service project because I built a gaming computer back in the summer of 2015. I wouldn’t have been able to do it as well or easily if I haven’t built my own computer with the proper hardware and capabilities.

Here is the video


Design for Change Global Conference – a Youth Perspective

March 7th, 2016

DESIGN FOR CHANGE (USA) is a global movement of young people who are changing the world!

This video shares a perspective from some of the students who attended in 2013.  Take a quick peek into what could be a life-changing experience for you and your team!

Learn more about how YOU can be the change here.


The Power of Empathy . . . for Social Change

March 4th, 2016

When we work with youth, one area of focus that pops up is the need to help  create a sense of empathy – both one on one (mirroring emotions) and with a group of people (understanding what it’s like to walk in their shoes and to be in their lives).  We want youth to understand they are connected with others and that human bonds are important.

In this RAS Animate: the Power of Outrospection, philosopher and author Roman Krznaric. shares ideas on how we can learn to step outside ourselves to drive social change.

Consider using this video with your youth group as you think about the kind of change you want to make in the world and approaches for doing it.  How can the service project you select have that much more depth?


Service-Learning Grant Application Available from State Farm

March 3rd, 2016
State Farm® Youth Advisory Board (YAB) service-learning grant applications are available from February 29 th until April 29th.  The grants range from $25,000 – $100,000 and are designed to create sustainable change in local communities across the United States.
Public K-12, charter, higher education institutions, and non-profit organizations are eligible if they are able to demonstrate how they plan to impact student achievement within the public K-12 curriculum.  All applicants must have a youth contact and adult administrator, as the programs must be youth-driven and youth-led.
Each grant request must fall under one of these issue areas, chosen by the board itself:


  • Community Safety and Justice
  • Environmental Responsibility
  • Economic Inclusion and Financial Literacy
  • Access to Higher Education
  • Health and Wellness
  • Arts and Culture


As of August 2015, nine years after the initial launch of the YAB, the board has awarded more than $36 million in grants to organizations in the U.S. and Canada and impacted approximately 21 million lives.
Find out more at You can also check out the YAB on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
With a passion for education and service, our youth can make a difference! Thank you for helping us spread the word.


Design for Change USA Challenge Winning Project: Students Take on School Dropouts

February 29th, 2016

DESIGN FOR CHANGE (USA) is a global movement of young people who are changing the world!


We are pleased to share with you one of the Design for Change USA projects from young people across the nation.

What will you tackle to BE the CHANGE?

Find out what you need to do and how to enter here.

Design for Change USA Challenge: 5th Graders Tackle a Trap House

February 22nd, 2016

DESIGN FOR CHANGE (USA) is a global movement of young people who are changing the world!

Here is one of the Design for Change USA winning projects from young people across the nation. Check out what they did to make a real difference in their neighborhood!

DFC USA Winners 2014

Charles Rice Public School, Dallas

We hope you will join them in BEING THE CHANGE! Find out what you need to do and how to enter here.

Design for Change USA Challenge Winning Project: Cleaning Up the City

February 15th, 2016

DESIGN FOR CHANGE (USA) is a global movement of young people who are changing the world!

We are pleased to share with you one of the Design for Change USA projects from young people across the nation. We hope you will join them in BEING THE CHANGE!

Find out more about how to enter the contest here.

Check out the 2014 winners for DFC USA, the YELL Team from Boston

Design for Change USA Challenge: the 2015 Winners Take on Recycling

February 10th, 2016

DESIGN FOR CHANGE (USA) is a global movement of young people who are changing the world! One of the opportunities that DFC offers youth groups is outlined below:

  • Who: Any group of young people (K-8) with an adult mentor e.g., teacher, parent, youth leader, coach.
  • How: Teams dream up and lead social change projects in their own schools/communities using DFC curriculum and training, along with the web portal and other resources.
  • What: Teams are expected to fully implement, present and submit their social change project to DFC USA by the deadline: May 15, 2016.
  • Winners will be announced May 30, 2016.  (Learn more about contest rules here.)

We are pleased to share with you one of the Design for Change USA projects from young people across the nation. We hope you will join them in BEING THE CHANGE!

DFC USA Winners 2015

John Winthorp Elementary School, Boston

Design for Change

February 8th, 2016

We like to highlight resources of agencies that work with youth to develop leadership skills and provide opportunities for youth to give back. In this post, we want to introduce Design for Change:


DESIGN FOR CHANGE (USA) is a global initiative empowering young people to be agents of change in their own schools and communities. Through hands on training, a design thinking curriculum and robust technology platform, DFC engages young people in social change, helping them build their character, capacity and confidence. Once complete, students are required to submit a short video detailing the evolution of their project. These videos are scored and a team of young people from the USA are selected to participate in the annual DFC global conference involving students from 35+ countries.

For more information, please visit:

Check out their web for resources, lesson plans and activities to engage youth in service-learning!


Middle School Girls Tackle Disconnect

February 1st, 2016

Guest post by Christi Terefenko

When we asked a group of sixth and seventh grade girls what was important to them, their answer was, not surprisingly, their family and friends. When asked what got in the way of good relationships with their family and friends, their answer was, however, somewhat surprising: technology.

This simple question started a great conversation and initiated a very creative project with an inner-city middle school service-learning club. The girls in the club, who call themselves G-POP (short for Girls Project of Peace), attend Southwest Middle School in Reading, PA. The club is part of the Junior League of Reading’s Youth Empowered initiative designed to raise the self-esteem of youth and empower them to lead through service-learning.

This small – but mighty – group of 12 girls decided to address, in a very interesting way, the issue of societal disconnect resulting from overuse of technology. Seeing that “disconnect” was a very important issue to them, they created a day called “LOOK UP Day” along with a pledge for peers, family and friends to sign. The pledge was simple enough:

On this LOOK UP Day, I pledge to say,

I shall use technology less today

And talk to the people I do adore

And listen to people just a little bit more!

“Heads up, phones down” was the G-POP mantra and their goal was have their family and friends pledge to use technology less on LOOK UP Day so as to connect more with the people around them. In an effort explain their project and get people to sign the pledge to take part in LOOK UP Day, the girls spoke to their principal, set up informational tables for their peers in the cafeteria during lunch time, spoke on morning announcements, and even took the pledge home to their families to sign.

Look up day t-shirt back-page

After two weeks of campaigning, the middle school celebrated LOOK UP Day together with great success. In the end, this small group of girls raised awareness in a whole community about a very relevant issue and got over 350 individuals to sign their pledge. LOOK UP Day was a huge success and made a lasting impact on all those involved…especially the girls who created it. They leaned that they have the power to impact others and create change around them, perhaps the most valuable lesson of all.

2016 Tennessee Conference on Volunteerism & Service-Learning Dates Announced

December 4th, 2015

a courtesy post:

Volunteer Tennessee is pleased to announce the dates for the 2016 Tennessee Conference on Volunteerism and Service-Learning, which will take place Feb. 28 – Mar. 1, 2016 at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs in Franklin, TN.


Proposals for workshop sessions and showcase exhibits are now being accepted.  Workshop sessions last 1 hour and 15 minutes and include a directed focus on selected topics with interaction and reflection among participants.  Showcase exhibits will be displayed in our conference exhibit hall to demonstrate successful service-learning and volunteerism programs and projects across Tennessee.

Proposal and showcase submissions are due by Monday, January 4, 2016. 

More information can be found on our conference website and Facebook page.  Have questions?  Contact for further information.

Reuniting in Service and Leadership at Cameron Middle School

October 23rd, 2015

By Angel D.

Hi, my name is Angel, and I am an alumni of goLEAD. We are a community who gathers together to change the world around us to make it a safer and better environment. I started this program in the 8th grade at Cameron Middle School teachers chose me and 19 others as leaders to represent the school.  This Saturday, October 24, is a special day for my peers and me. We will reunite on Make A Difference Day. All across the country, volunteers will work on projects to benefit their communities.  We will volunteer with other alumni from AmeriCorps, Teach For America, and Hands On Nashville to revisit the project we designed at Cameron.

This spring, we worked together for two months going through the goLEAD curriculum to select and design a courtyard legacy project. We were able to speak out ideas to the group and team up on a plan for action. We invited the community to join us in making it come together on April 24 for Global Youth Service Day. The highlight for me was seeing my peers’ faces once the project was completed. Standing back and looking at what we all had made as one brought joy and excitement about the future. I thought, “If we can do what we just did together, we can do something even bigger and better.”

One challenge during our planning was not knowing what to do with a specific part of the courtyard, which was of course in the middle—the pond. We had to come to a tough agreement about what we wanted to do specifically. We did not want to lose it as a pond, but it would be difficult to take care of, as we saw because it was filled with everything (filthiness) and surrounded by bugs. We were not allowed to be outside playing in the area at that time. We ended up convincing our goLEAD coach, Ms. Hansom, to join us on the Saturday before our community project to muck out the pond so we could convert it into a rain garden on project day.

That Friday, more than 100 volunteers—including our fellow students, parents, and teachers plus community helpers from Hands On Nashville, Cumberland River Compact, SoundForest, Nashville Tools For Schools, HCA, Teach For America, and LEAD alumni—helped us turn our courtyard into a beautiful place full of rain gardens, new benches, and a mulch instead of mud pathway.

My friends and I spent the last month of school enjoying the courtyard, eating lunch outside, and spending time there for clubs after school. While we prepared for summer and to move on to high school, we worked with Ms. Parker to continue pulling in others from Cameron to help keep up the courtyard. We are thrilled to return to the courtyard on Make A Difference Day even now that we are spread out across the city and beyond at different high schools.

As a LEAD High School freshman now, I still get to visit the courtyard every day, but my friends who attend schools like Glencliff High School and even Dickson County High School have only heard about it through photos and updates. I can’t wait to lead volunteers with them again.

I wish kids my age could all have the opportunity to stretch out their voices through taking part in a community worldwide program like we did in goLEAD. I want older kids to take it to the next level and teach those younger than them how to do the same.

Angel  is a ninth grade student at LEAD Academy High School. She was among the group of 20 student leaders in the Cameron eighth grade class who planned and executed an extensive volunteer project with fellow students, Hands On Nashville, HCA, Teach For America and other community partners to revive the Cameron courtyard during the 2014-2015 school year.

Youth Heroes: Glories Happy Hats

July 10th, 2015

The Urban Passage serves youth held in custody at the Northern VA Juvenile Detention Home. They partner with community volunteers to teach, inspire and mentor youth in custody.  Their goal is to be a partner with them in rebuilding their lives, helping youth get access to educational and social support, economic counseling and spiritual mentoring that will help be successful and contribute to their community.  The Urban Passage wants to see youth move from the life they have always known to the life God intended for them


Since 2005, they have partnered with Glories Happy Hats to sew hats for terminally ill children in a local hospital. The youth responsibilities include designing and creating the hats, as well as checking for quality assurance. Volunteers work alongside them, encouraging them to persevere when they are overwhelmed by the task or discouraged by setbacks. When the hats are completed, the youth deliver the hats to families in the hospitals. The children get to choose a hat, and if they wish, a hat for a friend or sibling.


Kimberly Moore, the Urban Passage founder, says, “I love this program because young people get an opportunity to contribute to the happiness of others. The teen’s lives are difficult, but when they meet the sick children, they begin to realize that they have a lot to be grateful for.” The program makes a lasting impact on the teens because they realize that they have a positive contribution to make to society, and the community values their efforts. The teens love it too. After they are released from the detention program, they often ask to come back to b e a part of the Happy Hats program.


Find out more at

Reprinted with permission from our book Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. Find more ways to help youth engage their skills, talents and passions in serving the community by picking up your own book at your favorite online bookseller OR bring us to your school, church or community organization to lead service-learning workshop!

111 Trees Planted for Every Girl Born Here

July 8th, 2015

we often talk about the 6 degrees of separation between issues, but it was cool to see how this story connects saving girls’ lives and planting trees which leads to education and economic growth!

“A village in southern Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district is quietly practicing its own, homegrown brand of Eco-feminism and achieving spectacular results. For the last several years, Piplantri village panchayat has been saving girl children and increasing the green cover in and around it at the same time. Here, villagers plant 111 trees every time a girl is born and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up. Over the last six years, people here have managed to plant over a quarter million trees on the village’s grazing commons. The village’s former leader, Shyam Sundar Paliwal was instrumental in starting this initiative in the memory of his daughter Kiran.” This article shares photos and more details about this remarkable hidden corner of the world, { read more }