Youth Volunteer Corps is a service-learning program that is team-based, diverse, structured and flexible.
Research has shown that if their first experience with volunteering is not positive, youth may be turned off from service forever. Since 1987, Youth Volunteer Corps projects have been designed to support transformation in youth volunteers while keeping them engaged and excited. Nearly 30 years later, the impact is clear with experts backing up our model of youth service. Even more important, 96% of youth who served with YVC indicated that they will continue to volunteer in the future. YVC conducted an independent study in 2018 on our youth to see the impact that YVC had on them.
- Team-Based: YVC gives youth the opportunity to serve their community in teams of anywhere from three to 300 youth. Projects bring together youth from public schools, private schools, homeschool groups and others who may not normally cross paths. YVC youth are offered leadership opportunities and the chance to share ideas and have a say in how their YVC operates.
- Diverse: Projects are open to youth ages 11 to 18, regardless of experience, race, socioeconomic status, gender, ability or geographic location. Our goal is for teams of YVC youth volunteers to represent the diversity of the community being served, and by the end of the experience, friendships are formed, stereotypes are invalidated, and the group becomes a team working together for something greater than themselves.
- Structured: Projects are well-planned with in advance by trained, screened program staff with activities designed to help youth connect with peers and leaders and understand the relevance and significance of their project experience. YVC staff supervise every project to ensure that each volunteer is safe, welcomed, prepared for their role and valued.
- Flexible: YVC offers today’s busy youth the freedom to decide when, how often and which projects they volunteer for. YVC is also adaptable for the host organization. Affiliates can offer projects only while school is in session (after school, in school, weekends), only over the summer in a “day camp” format, or year-round.
These eight YVC Program Standards reflect the attributes we have identified over the years as being essential to a strong YVC program. Each local affiliate looks a little different as they reflect the communities they serve, but all adhere to these standards. YVC Headquarters provides comprehensive recommendations and best practices for implementing each of these standards to local YVC leadership.
- 1. Conduct frequent, supervised, team-based service projects that address a variety of important community needs.
- 2. Recruit youth ages 11-18 who represent the diversity of the program’s community.
- 3. Assign a Program Director responsible for managing the program.
- 4. Establish an integrated education and reflection process for participants.
- 5. Provide leadership opportunities for youth volunteers.
- 6. Use the trademark Youth Volunteer Corps name and logo prominently in close coordination with the name and logo of the YVC host.
- 7. Provide no financial inducement for youth volunteer participation.
- 8. Participate in the YVC program evaluation process.
Every YVC project includes an opportunity for social engagement (an icebreaker or team building activity), meaningful service, an educational component (service-learning), and reflection activities. In this way, YVC programs bring to life the research-backed model and eight program standards.