Impact Grant Profile: Youth Service America (YSA)
With half the world’s population now under age 25, Youth Service America (YSA) partners with thousands of organizations to engage children and youth in a lifetime of meaningful service, learning, and leadership. YSA offers youth and adult mentors a variety of training resources to help students “seize the opportunity to improve the world around you through service.”
YSA was recently awarded an Impact Grant from the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation to strengthen and expand its capacity to train youth leaders, educators, and nonprofit staff. Steve Culbertson is YSA’s President and CEO. We sat down with him to learn more about YSA’s youth service programs, Global Youth Service Day, and their plans to use the Cornerstone platform to reach a global audience.
Tell us about the mission of YSA and the beneficiaries of the specific program that will benefit from the Impact Grant.
YSA’s mission is to help young people find their voice, take action, and make an impact on vital community issues. Founded in 1986, YSA activates, funds, trains, and recognizes youth and their adult champions to create a global culture that values the power of all children and youth to strengthen their communities through service.
The Impact Grant will benefit students, teachers, administrators, and parents in creating a culture of service in schools through YSA’s Education Impact programs. They’ll learn how to make education more meaningful, authentic, and relevant… to make schools places that are connected to the community, where learning is used for more than passing standardized tests, and where meeting volunteer or service-learning requirements becomes about more than counting hours.
The Impact Grant will also benefit youth leaders and NGO staff in over 100 countries around the world as they use Global Youth Service Day to challenge youth volunteers to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)- 17 global goals that could transform the world by 2030. Youth organizations will be challenged to align their youth volunteer programs with the SDGs and issue-based organizations will be challenged to engage youth in their work; YSA wants to connect them all to the knowledge they need to be successful.
How does the Impact Grant change your work moving forward?
YSA is best known for our Global Youth Service Day campaign and our YSA Grants programs that invest hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in youth-led projects. Through this Impact Grant, we hope that being trained by YSA will become just as valued and will be just as beneficial as receiving a grant from YSA. To make that happen, we’ll be investing even more of our staff capacity in our training programs.
The Impact Grant provides the opportunity to exponentially increase our goal of the number of schools we’re able to work with by supporting implementation of a new train-the-trainer strategy. We’ll begin training student leaders, teachers, and administrators who will in turn train others in their schools. With a technology platform to support this new network of trainers, we’ll be able to scale our work with schools faster than our existing training staff would have been able to alone.
By 2020, YSA wants to be viewed as the go-to resource center for youth service in 150 countries; the Impact Grant will help us better define what being a “resource center” means and help us track the reach and the impact of the training and tools we provide in multiple languages around the world.