The Case for Service Years
Utilizing service years has the power to expand your organization’s capacity for achieving its mission and addressing critical community needs. Our communities face significant challenges and deep societal divides that threaten the health and wellbeing of our entire country.
Service years provide the critical human capital we need to make progress in these areas. Thousands of young Americans are eager to make a difference in communities like yours. By hosting a service year, your organization will have the opportunity to engage these individuals to increase your impact over the course of a year. These young people learn new skills and gain real-world experience, while your organization retains committed, full-time service year corps members whose service will support your mission.
By utilizing service years, you can serve more clients, extend your reach into the community, or build your organization’s capacity to achieve its goals. Sound good? Our country needs organizations like yours to join us in this movement to create inspiring, empowering service year opportunities.
What is a service year?
Program Placement & Structure
Service year programs are remarkably flexible; there is no one typical service year program design. In some cases, organizations recruit dozens of service year corps members and organize them in teams to take on projects across multiple locations. In others, one or two individuals serve at an organization working under staff supervision. Regardless of size, host organizations enable service year corps members to be part of a team and understand their larger role in solving society’s problems, while providing a meaningful service experience.
Corps Member Placement
- Teams: Many corps members find their experience to be more rewarding when they are organized in teams to work on a common project. Depending on the skills and experience of the corps members, one leader can lead a group of four to ten corps members.
- Individual Placements: It is also possible to host just a small number of members, or even a single position at an organization, particularly if the organization is small or the function is highly specialized. In the case of individual placements, it will be important to incorporate opportunities for the corps member to connect with other corps members in the community and be mentored within the organization.
- Coordinated Placement: Consider partnering with an organization that works on a similar issue or within the same community to split the costs and responsibilities of a service member positions. Think of using service years as part of your collective strategy for change, and how multiple organizations might benefit from integrating service corps members into their programming.
- Direct Host Organization: A host organization manages and administers all aspects of a service year programming. This includes recruitment, screening, placement, benefits administration, management, and oversight. The corps members then provide service directly for that organization. If your organization has the capacity to fulfill all of these duties successfully for an individual or team of corps members, consider being a host organization for an entire service program.
- Umbrella: In some cases, a large organization can act as a host and placement coordinator for several organizations. These umbrella orgs act as the main recruiter and administrator of the service program, but do not oversee a corps members’ daily work. Organizations that fall under an umbrella request a service member to be placed on their site and maintain daily supervision. These organizations may support the umbrella organization through financial contributions in exchange for managing the logistics of corps member recruitment and administration.
Ready to Get Started?
Create a Service Year Program
Organizations can create their own service year program to address local needs. The “Creating a Service Year Program” Handbook provides a guideline for starting a service year program.
Collaborate with existing Service Year Programs
Are you interested in working together with an existing host organization to address a problem in your community? Find and connect with host organizations in your community.