Opportunities to Help Others

Through service to others and community, young Americans develop the character and competence they need to be helpful, hopeful and civically engaged all their lives, regardless of their own life circumstances.  The chance to give back teaches young people the value of service to others, the meaning of community, and the self-respect that comes from knowing that one has a contribution to make in the world. 

When paired with learning, serving creates a stronger commitment to school and contributes to academic achievement. Service as a form of experiential education connects the classroom to the real world and engages students in understanding contexts in which they live, learn, worship and play.

Helping to address community needs also aids in the development of cognitive skills that continue in young people through early adulthood, by improving on their critical thinking and creative problem solving abilities.

As brain skills are built, so is character. Serving builds empathy, hope for the future and a sense of personal responsibility to help others all their lives.  Serving, volunteering and leadership engage young people in more developmental relationships with adults and peers.

Related Resources

2016 Building a Grad Nation Report

May 9, 2016Written annually by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and released in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education, this report examines the progress and challenges the nation faces in reaching the GradNation goal of a national on-time graduation rate of 90 percent by the Class of 2020.

Comprehensive Community Initiatives - Case Studies

Nov 19, 2015Collective impact – a collaborative approach to solving social problems - is a popular tool used by the government and community-based organizations. Communities across the country are embracing this approach to help children and young people access the fundamental resources - what we call the Five Promises – that they need to succeed. Decades of community change efforts demonstrate, however, that this strategy is far from a silver bullet. America’s Promise Alliance and its research center, the Center for Promise, presents a series of in-depth case studies highlighting collaborative efforts in the cities of Atlanta, Orlando, and New Orleans that distill important lessons about how organizations can work together effectively - and, ultimately, put young people on positive pathways.

Dispelling Stereotypes of Young People Who Leave School Before Graduation

Aug 17, 2015Part of the Don't Call Them Dropouts series of research, Dispelling Stereotypes of Young People Who Leave School Before Graduation explores the social and emotional competencies of young people who have left school before graduating from high school. Though often labeled "dropouts," by society, stereotypes assume that these young people are deficient and simply disengaged - lacking the competencies of those that do graduate. Our analyses show that young people who left school expressed the same competencies as those that have been found for young people who are academically successful. And, while not always legal or socially acceptable, the competencies of young people who left school before graduating enabled them to pursue and successfully reach their goals. Often, these goals were focused on circumstances that were dissonant with attending school, such as caring for a family member, surviving violent and/or abusive situations or financially providing for themselves or their families.

Every Child Every Promise: Turning Failure into Action

Jan 14, 2014This report presents the first national research that comprehensively measures the presence of the essential resources -- the Five Promises -- that correlate with success in both youth and adulthood. The report clearly shows that we have much work to do as a nation. But it also shows how we can turn failure into action and improve the lives of young people at risk.

Youth Engagement Webinar Recording: Change through Student to Student Experiences

Jan 14, 2014This America's Promise Alliance webinar recording explores the power of student-to-student experiences as effective youth engagement. It was conducted on May 24, 2011. Hear from local, regional and national models that are all fostering leadership development and promoting positive attitudes towards education through positive peer pressure.