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.
Although most social science research on adolescence emphasizes risks and challenges, an emergent field of study focuses on adolescent thriving.
Those who study youth development look to both external factors that affect youth (environment) and internal factors within the youth (personal attributes) that contribute to their positive growth.
Great progress has been made over the last decade to reach an 80 percent graduation rate, but for the one in five students still not graduating on time, more hard work is required to achieve the GradNation goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020. For that reason, America’s…